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a plate of spaghetti and meatballs with a fork twirled inside the noodles
What’s better than spaghetti and meatballs? Nothing.
Joy Zhang

Where to Relish in Houston’s Finest Italian Cuisine

Indulge in wood-fired pizzas, creative salads and other Italian favorites like bolognese rigatoni, and cacio e pepe at one of these 16 restaurants.

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What’s better than spaghetti and meatballs? Nothing.
| Joy Zhang

When in need of a little comfort, Italian food almost always offers an easy solution: a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs in a soppable, savory red sauce or a plate full of rich carbonara with a side of warm, herb-crusted foccacia can settle a restless stomach or broken heart. Thankfully, when it comes to Italian, Houston’s got range.

Cozy hangout spots reminiscent of trattorias, like La Griglia, Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, and Trattoria Sofia, are nestled throughout the city’s neighborhoods, serving up everything from flavorful Mediterranean-style bites and bruschettas to vibrant pizzas and al dente pasta combinations that harken back to Naples and Milan. On the other end of things, glitzier establishments like Potente and Tony’s offer refined takes on classics like cacio e pepe.

And many local Italian restaurants are simply creating spaces where locals are happy to convene, with welcoming bars and back patios, disarming lighting, homey decor, complimentary appetizers, and table-side service. Now, that’s amore.

Here are 16 Italian restaurants in Houston that should be on your radar.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Trattoria Sofia

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Start your meal with an appetizer like the crispy shrimp bruschetta or roasted octopus, and opt for scene-stealers like lamb ragù, pesto bucatini with whipped ricotta, or the pizza verde, made with spinach and kale. Sweeten the experience with an amaro colada made with rum, amaro, coconut cream, and pineapple, or a bergamot margarita. Reservations are encouraged.

The amaro colada at Trattoria Sofia.
The amaro colada is mixed with rum, Amaro Montenegro, coconut creme, pineapple juice, and lime.
Kirsten Gilliam

Postino Heights

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Heights hangout Postino offers a variety of casual fare that will keep the conversation going, with paninis, charcuterie boards, and around a dozen different types of bruschetta to choose from. Get there before 5 p.m. to enjoy happy hour specials, which include $6 glasses of wine.

bruschetta and red wine from Postino Wine Cafe
Postino offers 11 types of brushetta and $5 glasses of wine during happy hour.
Postino WineCafé

Coltivare

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Using ingredients from its vegetable garden, Coltivare’s Italian fare is refreshingly inspired by the seasons and the Gulf Coast, with dishes like the shrimp and crab ravioli made with chives from its patio garden. For a burst of flavor, try the Brussels sprouts pizza, topped with golden beets, pickled shallots, chiles, coriander, and smoked gouda, or opt for the slow-cooked venison osso buco with root vegetables.

Potente

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Need a retreat from Downtown? Just steps away from Minute Maid Park, Chef Danny Trace creates an Italian dining escape. Under elegant chandeliers on white-clothed tables, Potente serves up homemade pastas, top-notch steaks, and wild-caught seafood dishes using produce chosen by Trace and his team at the Houston Farmers Market. Try the spaghetti al tartufo nero; this fancy spin on cacio e pepe includes black truffles shaved tableside and was named one of the best pastas in the country by Food Network.

Spaghetti with shaved black truffles and dusted with shredded parmesan.
Potente’s spaghetti al tartufo nero, which includes black truffles saved tableside, was named one of the best pastas in the country by Food Network.
Potente/Facebook

La Griglia

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La Griglia’s home-y ambiance, complimentary pizza and bread appetizer, raw bar, and an assortment of Italian faves have made a fan out of many diners. Enjoy a bottle of wine and an appetizer for $32 at the seafood grill’s bar or patio area during happy hour.

North Italia

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An import from Arizona, North Italia’s Houston location is undeniably good, with a welcoming ambiance, wood-fired pizzas, craft cocktails made with fresh juices and herbs, and plenty of pasta. Access its engaging bartenders indoors and from the outdoor patio seating, with fun glimpses of pasta noodles being made in its kitchen. The Tuscan kale salad serves as a refreshing appetizer or entree, and the crispy chicken parmesan, plated with a side of rigatoni drenched in alfredo, is a classic. (Insider tip: You can ask for spicy alfredo if you’re looking for a little kick.)

Bacon and Egg Pizza with gooey yolk in the middle.
North Italia presents a difficult choice between fresh pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas, like this bacon and egg pizza.
Ellie Sharp

This neighborhood spot has staples, like cacio e pepe and carbonara, down pat — they don’t even list them on the menu. Order from memory, or if craving one of chef-owner Travis McShane’s creations, browse the ever-changing menu, which includes Mediterranean fare and favorites like the crispy roasted half-lemon chicken that’s perfect sharing. Don’t forget the fresh-baked focaccia bread, served warm and drizzled with olive oil and herbs.

a greenhouse-like dining rooms with windows and hanging plants on the left side, exposed metal beamed ceilings, an open kitchen on the right, slate grey walls, wooden floors, and furniture.
Ostia serves as a comfy spot to indulge in Italian.
Jenn Duncan/Ostia

Damian's Cucina Italiana

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A Houston institution for more than 35 years, Damian’s offers specialties like spaghetti with “Mama Mandola” meatballs, Grilled Chilean sea bass drizzled with white wine butter sauce, and veal marsala. Enjoy a six-course meal at the limited seating Chef’s Table for $95. Catching a show after dinner? For $5 per person, Damian’s offers a shuttle to and from the Wortham Center, Alley Theatre, Hobby Center, and Jones Hall.

Da Marco

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This gourmet Tuscan restaurant’s inventive dishes pair well with its timeless charm and curated wine list. Wild boar pappardelle, the butternut squash cappellacci, and the sea urchin spaghetti with chilies can cure any pasta craving, while the chianti braised short ribs with polenta cacio e pepe is sure to please. There’s a dress code, so be sure to dress up for the occasion.

Paulie's

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Slinging hearty portions of homemade pasta, salads, soups, sandwiches, and more since 1998, this Montrose mom-and-pop restaurant is known for its comforting Italian eats. Stop in for a classic hoagie, or stay awhile with a dish like rigatoni bolognese, the canestri alla funghi — a creamy mushroom pasta, or the dinner special offered Monday through Saturday.

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

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Seat yourself on Giacomo’s laid-back patio, and choose from dozens of affordable and flavorful dishes, like ratatouille, carbonara (sans cream), pasta e fagioli, and the pappardelle al telefono, made with garlic, oil, and tomatoes. The wine selections are even more plentiful, with a variety of white, red, and orange selections and champagne options by the glass or the bottle. Reservations are recommended for indoor dining, but leave your cash at home: Only credit cards are accepted.

a broccoli pasta with pine nuts.
Giacomo’s offers dozens of affordable and flavorful dishes on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Giacomo’s/Facebook

Carrabba's - The Original On Kirby

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This family-owned Italian establishment, which bred the national chain of the same name, features flavorful salads and stuffed pasta made fresh daily; hearty meats grilled over oak and pecan wood; and combinations like the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” which is topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil butter, then served with a side of fettuccine Alfredo. Leave room for a slice of dessert Rosa — a butter cake topped with pastry cream, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and whipped cream.

the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil butter with a side of fettuccine Alfredo.
Carrabba’s original location on Kirby dishes out a variety of Italian fan favorites, including the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” which is topped with goat cheese, sun-tried tomatoes and basil butter.
Carrabbas

With influences from both Naples and Milan, this high-end Italian restaurant delivers on occasion dining, with dishes like duck confit caramelli with black truffle, parmesan and mint; or its classic savory pappardelle bolognese with parmesan. You also can’t miss with the pan-seared Dover sole and classic meuniere sauce, or the filet mignon Tony’s way — with porcini mushroom, Fonda Bruno sauce, and roasted bone marrow.

Roberto Crescini brings more than 40 years of experience as a chef in Italy to this no-frills Houston locale located in a strip mall that attracts locals and visitors alike, including Guy Fieri for his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Go for Fresco’s award-winning tagliatelle, made with a slow-braised Texas lamb sauce or the grilled Mediterranean octopus served with spaghetti.

Coppa Osteria

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At Coppa Osteria, it’s all about the dough: Expect 11 variations of pasta, including a robust squid ink-infused spaghetti with lobster and shrimp, Neopolitan-styled pizzas, and rotating specials that bring a new spin on Italian cuisine each week. Be sure to peek inside the appropriately titled Dough Room, where pasta and pizza dough are made daily in full view.

Enoteca Rossa

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Start small at this Bellaire mainstay with plates like the lemon risotto served with tender Gulf shrimp, asparagus, and roasted pinenuts, or the crispy arancini before building up to the main event, like its linguine with clams, wood-fired funghi pizza, or the fettuccine bolognese. Or, if you’re looking for a quick meal, grab the week’s pizza rapido lunch special, which comes with a personal-sized pie and a side salad.

Trattoria Sofia

The amaro colada at Trattoria Sofia.
The amaro colada is mixed with rum, Amaro Montenegro, coconut creme, pineapple juice, and lime.
Kirsten Gilliam

Start your meal with an appetizer like the crispy shrimp bruschetta or roasted octopus, and opt for scene-stealers like lamb ragù, pesto bucatini with whipped ricotta, or the pizza verde, made with spinach and kale. Sweeten the experience with an amaro colada made with rum, amaro, coconut cream, and pineapple, or a bergamot margarita. Reservations are encouraged.

The amaro colada at Trattoria Sofia.
The amaro colada is mixed with rum, Amaro Montenegro, coconut creme, pineapple juice, and lime.
Kirsten Gilliam

Postino Heights

bruschetta and red wine from Postino Wine Cafe
Postino offers 11 types of brushetta and $5 glasses of wine during happy hour.
Postino WineCafé

Heights hangout Postino offers a variety of casual fare that will keep the conversation going, with paninis, charcuterie boards, and around a dozen different types of bruschetta to choose from. Get there before 5 p.m. to enjoy happy hour specials, which include $6 glasses of wine.

bruschetta and red wine from Postino Wine Cafe
Postino offers 11 types of brushetta and $5 glasses of wine during happy hour.
Postino WineCafé

Coltivare

Using ingredients from its vegetable garden, Coltivare’s Italian fare is refreshingly inspired by the seasons and the Gulf Coast, with dishes like the shrimp and crab ravioli made with chives from its patio garden. For a burst of flavor, try the Brussels sprouts pizza, topped with golden beets, pickled shallots, chiles, coriander, and smoked gouda, or opt for the slow-cooked venison osso buco with root vegetables.

Potente

Spaghetti with shaved black truffles and dusted with shredded parmesan.
Potente’s spaghetti al tartufo nero, which includes black truffles saved tableside, was named one of the best pastas in the country by Food Network.
Potente/Facebook

Need a retreat from Downtown? Just steps away from Minute Maid Park, Chef Danny Trace creates an Italian dining escape. Under elegant chandeliers on white-clothed tables, Potente serves up homemade pastas, top-notch steaks, and wild-caught seafood dishes using produce chosen by Trace and his team at the Houston Farmers Market. Try the spaghetti al tartufo nero; this fancy spin on cacio e pepe includes black truffles shaved tableside and was named one of the best pastas in the country by Food Network.

Spaghetti with shaved black truffles and dusted with shredded parmesan.
Potente’s spaghetti al tartufo nero, which includes black truffles saved tableside, was named one of the best pastas in the country by Food Network.
Potente/Facebook

La Griglia

La Griglia’s home-y ambiance, complimentary pizza and bread appetizer, raw bar, and an assortment of Italian faves have made a fan out of many diners. Enjoy a bottle of wine and an appetizer for $32 at the seafood grill’s bar or patio area during happy hour.

North Italia

Bacon and Egg Pizza with gooey yolk in the middle.
North Italia presents a difficult choice between fresh pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas, like this bacon and egg pizza.
Ellie Sharp

An import from Arizona, North Italia’s Houston location is undeniably good, with a welcoming ambiance, wood-fired pizzas, craft cocktails made with fresh juices and herbs, and plenty of pasta. Access its engaging bartenders indoors and from the outdoor patio seating, with fun glimpses of pasta noodles being made in its kitchen. The Tuscan kale salad serves as a refreshing appetizer or entree, and the crispy chicken parmesan, plated with a side of rigatoni drenched in alfredo, is a classic. (Insider tip: You can ask for spicy alfredo if you’re looking for a little kick.)

Bacon and Egg Pizza with gooey yolk in the middle.
North Italia presents a difficult choice between fresh pasta dishes and wood-fired pizzas, like this bacon and egg pizza.
Ellie Sharp

Ostia

a greenhouse-like dining rooms with windows and hanging plants on the left side, exposed metal beamed ceilings, an open kitchen on the right, slate grey walls, wooden floors, and furniture.
Ostia serves as a comfy spot to indulge in Italian.
Jenn Duncan/Ostia

This neighborhood spot has staples, like cacio e pepe and carbonara, down pat — they don’t even list them on the menu. Order from memory, or if craving one of chef-owner Travis McShane’s creations, browse the ever-changing menu, which includes Mediterranean fare and favorites like the crispy roasted half-lemon chicken that’s perfect sharing. Don’t forget the fresh-baked focaccia bread, served warm and drizzled with olive oil and herbs.

a greenhouse-like dining rooms with windows and hanging plants on the left side, exposed metal beamed ceilings, an open kitchen on the right, slate grey walls, wooden floors, and furniture.
Ostia serves as a comfy spot to indulge in Italian.
Jenn Duncan/Ostia

Damian's Cucina Italiana

A Houston institution for more than 35 years, Damian’s offers specialties like spaghetti with “Mama Mandola” meatballs, Grilled Chilean sea bass drizzled with white wine butter sauce, and veal marsala. Enjoy a six-course meal at the limited seating Chef’s Table for $95. Catching a show after dinner? For $5 per person, Damian’s offers a shuttle to and from the Wortham Center, Alley Theatre, Hobby Center, and Jones Hall.

Da Marco

This gourmet Tuscan restaurant’s inventive dishes pair well with its timeless charm and curated wine list. Wild boar pappardelle, the butternut squash cappellacci, and the sea urchin spaghetti with chilies can cure any pasta craving, while the chianti braised short ribs with polenta cacio e pepe is sure to please. There’s a dress code, so be sure to dress up for the occasion.

Paulie's

Slinging hearty portions of homemade pasta, salads, soups, sandwiches, and more since 1998, this Montrose mom-and-pop restaurant is known for its comforting Italian eats. Stop in for a classic hoagie, or stay awhile with a dish like rigatoni bolognese, the canestri alla funghi — a creamy mushroom pasta, or the dinner special offered Monday through Saturday.

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

a broccoli pasta with pine nuts.
Giacomo’s offers dozens of affordable and flavorful dishes on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Giacomo’s/Facebook

Seat yourself on Giacomo’s laid-back patio, and choose from dozens of affordable and flavorful dishes, like ratatouille, carbonara (sans cream), pasta e fagioli, and the pappardelle al telefono, made with garlic, oil, and tomatoes. The wine selections are even more plentiful, with a variety of white, red, and orange selections and champagne options by the glass or the bottle. Reservations are recommended for indoor dining, but leave your cash at home: Only credit cards are accepted.

a broccoli pasta with pine nuts.
Giacomo’s offers dozens of affordable and flavorful dishes on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Giacomo’s/Facebook

Carrabba's - The Original On Kirby

the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil butter with a side of fettuccine Alfredo.
Carrabba’s original location on Kirby dishes out a variety of Italian fan favorites, including the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” which is topped with goat cheese, sun-tried tomatoes and basil butter.
Carrabbas

This family-owned Italian establishment, which bred the national chain of the same name, features flavorful salads and stuffed pasta made fresh daily; hearty meats grilled over oak and pecan wood; and combinations like the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” which is topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil butter, then served with a side of fettuccine Alfredo. Leave room for a slice of dessert Rosa — a butter cake topped with pastry cream, bananas, strawberries, pineapple, and whipped cream.

the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil butter with a side of fettuccine Alfredo.
Carrabba’s original location on Kirby dishes out a variety of Italian fan favorites, including the grilled chicken “Bryan Texas,” which is topped with goat cheese, sun-tried tomatoes and basil butter.
Carrabbas

Tony's

With influences from both Naples and Milan, this high-end Italian restaurant delivers on occasion dining, with dishes like duck confit caramelli with black truffle, parmesan and mint; or its classic savory pappardelle bolognese with parmesan. You also can’t miss with the pan-seared Dover sole and classic meuniere sauce, or the filet mignon Tony’s way — with porcini mushroom, Fonda Bruno sauce, and roasted bone marrow.

Fresco

Roberto Crescini brings more than 40 years of experience as a chef in Italy to this no-frills Houston locale located in a strip mall that attracts locals and visitors alike, including Guy Fieri for his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Go for Fresco’s award-winning tagliatelle, made with a slow-braised Texas lamb sauce or the grilled Mediterranean octopus served with spaghetti.

Coppa Osteria

At Coppa Osteria, it’s all about the dough: Expect 11 variations of pasta, including a robust squid ink-infused spaghetti with lobster and shrimp, Neopolitan-styled pizzas, and rotating specials that bring a new spin on Italian cuisine each week. Be sure to peek inside the appropriately titled Dough Room, where pasta and pizza dough are made daily in full view.

Related Maps

Enoteca Rossa

Start small at this Bellaire mainstay with plates like the lemon risotto served with tender Gulf shrimp, asparagus, and roasted pinenuts, or the crispy arancini before building up to the main event, like its linguine with clams, wood-fired funghi pizza, or the fettuccine bolognese. Or, if you’re looking for a quick meal, grab the week’s pizza rapido lunch special, which comes with a personal-sized pie and a side salad.

Related Maps