Best Italian Restaurants in Brooklyn, NY
The words Brooklyn and Italian just seem to go together. Brooklyn has one of the largest and oldest Italian-American communities in the city as well as some of the best Italian restaurants in New York. The borough's myriad Italian restaurants reflect this more relaxed attitude towards living one's life.
Every region's cooking, from the Northern cities of Milan and Turin to Rome through Naples and Palermo is represented in Brooklyn. And each section of the Italian peninsula has something different and tasty to offer. Taking a stroll through many parts of Brooklyn is like taking a walk through Italy. Enjoy!
Bella Gioia - Park Slope
Nestled amidst the vintage brownstones and vibrant shops of Park Slope, Bella Gioia celebrates all things Sicilian.
Specializing in Sicilian comfort food, the restaurant is helmed by a young chef on the rise, by the name of Nico Daniele. Having the utmost respect for Sicily's traditions, chef Nico infuses centuries-old family recipes with a distinct contemporary flair.
More than anything else, however, Nico and his team bring passion and commitment to their kitchen, each and every day.
Bella Gioia's motto is "Cibo Dal Cuore", which means food from the heart. Unlike many chefs who never leave their outpost in the kitchen, Nico enjoys interacting with his customers. You will frequently see the chef out and about in the dining room, making sure that everyone is happy with their food. Nico is, in so many ways, the quintessential Sicilian host.
During the time that you spend within the charming, rustic walls of Bella Gioia, you are his honored guest.
The restaurant's décor resembles that of a rather chic wine cellar. The dining area is very atmospheric, to say the least. One section of the room has a wall made up of old-time wine casks. The lighting is low and intimate. Guaranteed, the next day, your date will be raving to his or her friends about this place.
Located just a handful of streets from the Barclays Center, Bella Gioia is ideal for a pre-concert dinner or a drink and a couple of appetizers before a Brooklyn Nets or an Islanders' game.
Chef Nico, who received his culinary education at the Scuola Internazionale di Cucina in Parma, Italy as well as the French Culinary Institute right here in New York, is not interested in trying to impress big shot food critics. Food is very personal to this young chef and the satisfaction of his customers means everything to Nico.
Nico's mother and Nonna were not only great cooks but perfect hostesses, as well. They set the hospitality bar high for Nico.
In Sicily, most homes start their family meal with antipasti of cured meats and cheese. At Bella Gioia, they encourage you to follow suit and kick off your evening with a glass of wine and one of their celebrated meat or cheese boards.
The chef's superb Sicilian Arancini, (rice balls) are served with four dipping sauces: garlic puree, a Balsamic reduction, chili-infused oil and Spicy Marinara.
Vegetarians love the Fritto Misto platter, which is comprised of tempura battered cauliflower, zucchini and eggplant, accompanied by a really, really tasty roasted pepper dipping sauce.
Macaroni dishes include pasta with imported sardines, a beloved Sicilian staple, Rigatoni and eggplant, Saffron infused ravioli and Gnocchi Rustica.
Chef Nico does his Gnocchi in the style of a baked ziti. The gnocchi is baked to perfection in a skillet with mounds of fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce and it is topped with breadcrumbs and Parmigiano cheese. This is one delicious dish, but, be forewarned, though; it is very cheesy.
Another traditional dish that you will enjoy is the Tumminia, an ancient Sicilian grain pasta that is served in a pesto sauce with almonds and caciocavallo cheese.
Pizzette, Sicilian-style, of course, is also on the menu. The pan-seared chicken piccata in a white wine and butter sauce is to die for. the tender chicken just melts in your mouth.
A very popular item on the menu is chef's surf and turf. A bevy of scallops and NY strip are accompanied by celery root puree, roasted potatoes and an outrageous red wine sauce.
One thing is abundantly clear. Between Nico's delicious food and the staff's friendly and welcoming attitude, you will not hesitate to make yourself feel at home here. In fact, you may never want to leave and re-enter the hectic and harried streets of New York.
They do know how to live in Sicily.
Location and Hours
209 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Tuesday to Thursday 5:30 PM to 10 PM
Friday 5:30 PM to 11 PM
Saturday 5 PM to 11 PM
Sunday and Monday Closed
Rucola - Boerum Hill
The words rustic and farm-to-table have been used so often by foodies and critics to describe the offerings at various restaurants throughout the city, that they have lost their intended meaning.
That, however, is not the case when describing the food at Rucola, a vegetable-forward restaurant in Boerum Hill, that showcases the delicious cuisine of the Piedmontese region in Northern Italy.
Brought to you by cousins Julian Brizzi and Henry Rich, Rucola is the Italian name for arugula. Defying convention, Julian and Henry opened their restaurant back in 2011 at a time when Boerum Hill was not the fashionable neighborhood that it is today.
But the enterprising duo took a chance, gambling on the premise that the young professionals and families that were moving into the neighborhood's renovated brownstones, would respond to the cuisine that Rucola was offering. The locals did not disappoint. On the night that the restaurant opened, over 150 hungry people came through the doors.
The menu changes, not only with the seasons but also depending upon what ingredients are available that day from Rucola's trusted purveyors.
Executive chef Patrick Miller's menu is inspired by the slow food movement that started in the Piedmont region.
As you would expect, salads are more than just an appetizer or culinary sideshow here. Their escarole offering, with toasted almonds and smoked feta, is dressed in an exquisitely preserved lemon-wildflower honey vinaigrette.
Mushrooms play a large role in Piedmontese country cooking. These delectable jewels of the forest, together with marinated greens and freshly baked sourdough bread, help to make chef Patrick's chickpea puree' an appetizer that you won't soon forget.
In North-Western Italy, Polenta is a traditional dish that cuts across all economic and class lines. Everybody adores this creamy dish, from farm families and blue-collar workers to executives at the Fiat offices outside of Turin.
At Rucola, the Polenta is generously dressed with roasted mushrooms, porcini crema and a dusting of Grana Padano cheese.
There are several house-made plates of pasta to choose from, such as the Fusilli in a tomato-almond pesto and Rigatoncini which is lovingly enveloped in a corn crema with shrimp, scallions and fermented chili.
The Moulard Duck is accompanied by roasted peppers, peaches and, what else, but freshly made corn Polenta! Chef Patrick's chicken will convert even those people who aren't huge fans of poultry. The heirloom tomato panzanella, blistered peppers and sherry vinaigrette does it every time.
When deciding on what to order, you, thankfully, will not have to go through reams of menu pages, as though you were reading a culinary version of War and Peace. Chef Patrick's menu is short and sweet but it is far from being "limited" in any sense of the word.
Sit back and savor the moment. The decor is first-date, dress to impress romantic but in a farmhouse or country Inn sort of way. All of the reclaimed wood that you see is from an actual barn in Pennsylvania.
If the ambiance was any more Italian rustic, you would be on a farm, somewhere within sight of the Alps, tending sheep.
Wines by the glass, Quartino or by the bottle are available including sparkling delights like Prosecco and Lambrusco.
Craft beer selections include Peroni and St. Peter's English Ale. The bar's cocktails are handcrafted using local herbs and house-made syrups. The refreshing and perky Collins features gin, lime juice, Tarragon and Thyme.
Not in the adult beverage mode? Then wash your dinner down with a ginger beer or San Pellegrino's thirst- quenching Limonata.
Location and Hours
190 Dean Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Monday to Friday 8 AM to 12 AM
Saturday and Sunday 9 AM to 12 AM
Broccolino - Boerum Hill
The street that Broccolino is located on is rather non-descript but the restaurant itself is anything but. There's a lot going on here in terms of food and ambiance.
By all means, take the family out to dinner here and leave the cooking to Broccolino's talented chefs. You deserve a night away from slaving over that hot stove in your kitchen or, God forbid, reheating leftovers from two, or was it, three days ago.
The owners conceived the restaurant as a culinary tribute to the first wave of Italian immigrants who came to Brooklyn at the turn of the century. These hard-working men and women helped to build much of Brooklyn and contributed greatly to the city's culture.
Broccolino is an affectionate take on the way in which many of the newcomers from Italy pronounced the name of their adopted home, Brooklyn. When you get the accent down just right, Brooklyn turns into Broccolino.
The atmosphere is chic cafe casual. The only drawback, though, is that space isn't that big. But the inside of the place serves its' purpose and, there is an inviting sidewalk seating area waiting for you during the Spring, Summer and early weeks of Fall. So, it's all good.
Hot antipasti include Nonna's veal meatballs, fried calamari and the Zuppa di Pesce, which is a hearty bowl of mixed seafood in a tomato and white wine broth. This magnificent soup eats like a meal and is one of the better soups that you'll find anywhere in Brooklyn.
Tempting entrees include lamb with pasta and peas, Lasagna, filet of Branzino with sauteed zucchini and capers and cavatelli Broccolino, which blends a nicely sized portion of short pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe'.
End the night with one of their tantalizing desserts. Most regulars swear by the Nutella and ricotta calzone as well as the addicting profiteroles, which are puff pastries filled with chocolate and vanilla cream.
A fantastically appropriate finish to your meal on date night is the Vin Santo and Cantucci; almond cookies that are served with a mildly sweet but very tasty Italian dessert wine.
Location and Hours
446 Dean Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Sunday to Thursday 12 PM to 11 PM
Friday and Saturday 12 PM to 12 AM
Sunday 12 PM to 11 PM
Frost Restaurant - Williamsburg
When you walk into Frost restaurant, you'll feel as though you've stepped back in the eighties, but in a very good way.
Frost is exactly what an old-school Italian restaurant should be.
The food is well-prepared and tasty, the portions are humongous and the service is always courteous and professional. Your every need is attended to. When you dine at Frost, you're going to get spoiled a little bit and that's not a bad thing at all. Many of the servers and cooks have been working at Frost for fifteen or twenty years. That's why everything is so consistent.
If Guy Fieri visited Frost, he would describe the restaurant as being "real deal Italian". And he would be right on the mark. It's nothing fancy but you'll go home happy and content.
And those huge portions we talked about earlier? Let's just say that your lunch at the office or dinner the next evening will be taken care of.
There are many Williamsburg hipsters who remember coming here with their mom and dad when they were kids. Even with all of the options available to foodies in Brooklyn and throughout the city, Frost is still the favorite, go-to Italian restaurant for several generations of Williamsburg residents. That's the best kind of review you can get.
When you sit down at your table, your waiter will bring you complimentary warm Italian bread with butter and a small dish of hot Italian peppers. The bread is delicious, but don't eat too much of it. You'll want to leave plenty of room in your tummy for the feast that awaits you.
On a light note, kick off your meal with a dish of fresh, creamy Mozzarella and tomatoes with basil seasoning or luscious, ripe Melon with prosciutto.
Their stuffed mushrooms and clams on the half shell are also a divine delight.
Pasta are all Nonna-approved. In fact, if you take your grandma here, she might even become slightly jealous when she tastes the wonderful dishes that come out of the kitchen.
The Manicotti has a scrumptious layer of mozzarella on top of the pasta that is filled with ricotta and parsley. Their stuffed shells and traditional spaghetti and meatballs are stupendous.
The Italian community in Williamsburg swears by the chefs' chicken cacciatore and veal rollatini with mushroom sauce.
However, the red awning that covers the entrance to Frost states that the kitchen's specialty is seafood. How very true! They have one of the most extensive seafood menus in Brooklyn. Filet of sole, fresh shrimp, lobster; they's got it all. Whatever floats your boat!
You can get their moist and flaky sole done either Parmigiana style or with a touch of lemon and butter. You've probably had shrimp oreganata many times in your life, but you have never tasted this dish like they make it here. It's all in the seasonings. You can even enjoy your shrimp, Marsala style if you prefer.
Calamari is a staple of most Italian restaurants that are worthy of the name. But sometimes this dish can be overcooked and the calamari is not as tender as they should be. Well, the chefs here have discovered the secret to turning out a great plate of calamari. Cooked just right, Frost's calamari is buttery tender on the inside with a perfect "crunch" on the outside.
When you select a live Maine lobster from their fish tank, the chef will prepare it according to your instructions. Some like their lobster simply broiled with drawn butter. Others go for Marinara sauce on their lobster meat. But most customers opt for the house's signature hot and spicy Fra Diavolo style.
Frost restaurant has a decidedly un-Italian name. The family that opened the place, though, wanted to name their new restaurant after the street where it was located; to make it easy for people to find and also because they had a lot of affection for the street and surrounding neighborhood, where the original owners grew up.
Location and Hours
193 Frost Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Tuesday to Thursday 12 PM to 9:30 PM
Friday 12 PM to 12 AM
Saturday 12 PM to 10:30 PM
Sunday 12 PM to 9:30 PM
Fabbrica - Williamsburg
Chelsea cool and Soho trendy meets Williamsburg's innovative take on nightlife at Fabbrica, a restaurant and lounge, which is located in the state of the art Edge Condo complex.
Situated in the up and coming neighborhood near East River State Park, Fabbrica has become go-to after-work hangout and weekend "getaway" brunch and party hearty destination for Williamsburg's hipsters and families.
Fabbrica, which is the Italian word for factory, pays homage to the neighborhood's industrial past.
Blending a chic warehouse-like ambiance with European styling and profiling, Fabbrica features a comfy lounge area with couches and you have to see it believe it wall mural created by the noted Brooklyn artist Olalekan Jeyifous.
This fantastic mural depicts the Brooklyn skyline, including the iconic Williamsburg bridge and the old Domino Sugar factory, which was, at one time, the largest refinery in the United States. Exposed plumbing, theatrically-staged lighting, huge, floor to ceiling windows and an outdoor patio, complete your experience.
The music program is directed by none other than Andy Rourke of The Smiths. You will be entertained by a diverse array of musicians, many of whom call Williamsburg home.
Singer Natalie Oliveri, guitarist Beth Cullen, and the Antonio Feula Jazz Duo are just some of the talented artists who perform here.
Fabbrica's menu features handcrafted pasta, homemade desserts as well as the finest imported Italian meats and cheeses. Veggies and fruits are sourced locally, from area farms. Most of their wines are biodynamic and organic.
The owners and chefs put as much care and effort into the food that's being served as they do in creating an unforgettable atmosphere.
The food at Fabbrica can best be described as contemporary Italian. In fact, this restaurant slash lounge and music venue would not be out of place in one of Milan's more fashionable neighborhoods.
Thyme and white wine contribute to the seductive powers of the Mussels Guazzetto. And, don't worry; they give you plenty of freshly baked garlic bread to sop up the savory broth.
The fried artichokes with sage and lemon are another delectable choice for an appetizer.
The kitchen does an excellent Bucatini pasta alla carbonara with egg yolks, Guanciale black pepper and pecorino cheese. They sprinkle just enough cheese, but not so much that it doesn't overpower the other flavors.
If you want to try something that you won't find on the menu of even the best Italian restaurants in Brooklyn, then order the Pici Al Limone, which is hand-rolled spaghetti with lemon zest, nutmeg, a touch of cream and Sicilian pistachio nuts. A very different, but welcome taste, to be sure.
One of their signature dishes is the Risotto AL Duo Colori. Literally meaning two colored rice, this out of this world risotto dish is made with red beets, ricotta cream and green peas.
Now, the following dish isn't really Italian, but it is so good, that it's worth mentioning. The Fabbrica burger is comprised of an all beef, hand-formed patty, Fontina cheese, arugula, a lightly fried onion ring and house-made spicy mayo sauce.
The menu also has a taste-tempting line-up of pizza, made in a wood-fired oven. Pizza offerings range from the basic (Margarita) to the adventurous like the Tartufo with fresh mozzarella, Truffle cream and Speck.
A nice, hot personal pizza is the perfect food to accompany your wine while you listen to live music in the beautiful lounge.
A perfect evening doesn't just happen by accident at Fabbrica. Make the most of your night and celebrate life as the Italians do.
Location and Hours
40 North 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Monday to Friday 12 PM to 11 PM
Saturday and Sunday 11 AM to 11 PM
Positano - Bay Ridge
Bay Ridge is just now being discovered as a destination neighborhood by foodies and young professionals who are seeking a more affordable alternative to Brooklyn's trendier communities.
But local residents have known for years that Bay Ridge is home to some of the best Italian restaurants in town. Although the food scene here is becoming increasingly diverse, this old-school neighborhood will forever be celebrated for its' fine Italian cuisine.
While Positano is relatively new on the Bay Ridge dining scene, this charming restaurant has already amassed quite a loyal following.
For those readers who have been to the beautiful Southern Campania region of Italy, you'll know that Positano is a cliffside village on the Amalfi coast. This village, many of whose buildings date back to the 15th century, is considered to be one of Italy's crown jewels.
While this Bay Ridge restaurant may not be quite as visually captivating as the town it is named after, in terms of decor and atmosphere, Positano still has a lot going for it.
The design is very cool and chic. A sexy bistro ambiance. One of the restaurant's walls is all exposed brick, decorated with modern art style caricatures and drawings of Italian American celebrities like Frank Sinatra. The opposite wall has some very trend-setting wallpaper as well as shelves adorned with knick-knacks and flowers.
The bar area looks like something out of a Fellini movie with splashes of red, yellow and ocean blue all around the space.
Positano is located just down the street from the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, so you can enjoy the cool outdoor ocean breeze while dining on their outdoor patio.
After dinner, you and your love can take a nice, romantic walk along the esplanade, hold hands and delight in the spectacular view, when the bridge is lit up at night.
The food is a little on the pricey side, but most people agree that it's worth the money. Everything is delicious and you can't complain about the portions. there's no skimping here.
One of the specialties of the house is the Spiedini Romano, a traditional dish that consists of fried cheese and bread with lemon juice and anchovy sauce.
The Barbabietole salad, with red and yellow beets, baby arugula and Vermont goat cheese is just perfect on a warm Summer's evening.
The menu has several soups on offer including escarole and beans, which is very healthy. Stracciatella, with tortellini, egg yolk and pasta in a chicken broth, is a hearty and quite flavorful soup.
The chef loves using chicken in a variety of tasty ways. Their signature chicken dish is a tender chicken breast over asparagus and prosciutto with melted mozzarella cheese in a light brown sauce.
You can also get chicken with organic mushrooms, cherry peppers, fresh basil and garlic.
The kitchen turns out quite a few inventive pasta dishes. The spaghetti ala Frank Sinatra comes with a generous portion of shrimp, black olives, capers and tomatoes. Gemelli twist pasta is tossed with cauliflower, raisins, Pignoli nuts and toasted breadcrumbs.
The linguine Nero features squid ink pasta as well as a bountiful catch of the sea; clams, mussels, calamari and chunks of fork-tender octopus.
Meat lovers will rejoice when they taste the sausage and eggplant dish with shaved ricotta in a delectable tomato sauce.
Make a reservation at Positano, today. In addition to friendly service and fantastic food, you'll be introduced to an intriguing neighborhood that is one of Brooklyn's hidden gems.
Location and Hours
10018 4th Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Sunday to Thursday 12 PM to 10:30 PM
Friday and Saturday 12 PM to 11:30 PM
Armando's - Brooklyn Heights
There's a great deal of intriguing history attached to this beloved Brooklyn Heights restaurant, which first opened its' doors in 1936.
A favorite hangout for stars like Marilyn Monroe. Arthur Miller and Norman Mailer, Armando's was also the watering hole of choice for the Brooklyn Dodgers, who celebrated their victories in high style here.
Armando's had quite a run until 2008 when it closed for renovations. Early the next year, the restaurant was re-launched with a brand new sexy and stylish contemporary look and renewed energy. This romantic Italian eatery has been going from strength to strength every day, since that time.
The decor is fresh and vibrant with white stone walls, low lighting and candle-lit tables. It's ideal for exchanging sweet glances with the one you love, a business lunch or for a family affair.
You can, of course, do a delicious lunch or dinner here. but, since its' re-opening, Armando's has been celebrated by, locals for having a can't miss brunch. And, best of all, Armando's brunch has a distinctly Italian ambiance about it.
Their Prix-fixe brunch offers you the choice of one brunch cocktail, an entree from the brunch menu as well as coffee or tea. All for the very reasonable price of only $20.
The talented bartenders here can make just about any drink that tickles your fancy. But their brunch delights are something special, indeed.
The Sardinian Tea, with vodka, limoncello, lemon juice, fresh mint and iced tea is a sip that you'll long remember.
Sauna Tequila, Cointreau, orange and lime juice and rosemary are ingredients that elevate Rosemary's baby to cocktail stardom.
Prosecco and freshly squeezed Pomegranate juice make up the Pomegranate Bellini.
If you adore a good pasta dish, you'll be happy to know that Armando's brunch menu includes several of their more notable dinner selections including Spaghetti with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh herbs andPapardelle with lamb.
The kitchen's breakfast and brunch dishes are something truly out of the ordinary. The funghi arrosto consists of poached eggs on top of polenta with roasted mushrooms. Another lovely and delicious dish is the eggs in tomato sauce, served with an olive tapenade on focaccia bread. This dish is pretty as a picture and tastes even better!
Egg's Benedict alla Armando's is the only way to go when you are craving a brunch Benedict. Their version of this classic dish is comprised of two poached eggs with Prosciutto, oven roasted tomatoes and a basil-pesto hollandaise sauce.
Isn't this way better than eating the same brunch food over and over again? Come on, people, freshen your brunch day up a little. You'll savor every moment when you brunch at Armandos. Bring a little sexy back into your life.
Location and Hours
143 Montague Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Monday to Sunday 11:30 AM to 11 PM
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