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Lulu’s lobster ravioli with cherry tomatoes.
River Oaks restaurant Lulu’s is serving up stellar bolognese and lobster ravioli.
Kirsten Gilliam

18 Essential Italian Restaurants in Houston

Wood-fired pizzas, creative salads, and classic pasta dishes abound at these local Italian establishments

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River Oaks restaurant Lulu’s is serving up stellar bolognese and lobster ravioli.
| Kirsten Gilliam

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 is often enough provide some satisfaction or ease. And thankfully, when it comes to Italian, Houston’s got range.

Here are 18 Italian restaurants in Houston that should be on your radar.

This list has been updated to remove the now-closed Fresco and to add restaurants like Lulu’s, Tiny Champions, and Marmo to give you even more options.

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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, roasted octopus, or the earthy and refreshing beet salad. Then, move on to scene-stealers like lamb ragù with campanelle, 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 around a dozen types of bruschetta 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 wild Gulf snapper served with okra confit, sofrito, and fingerling potatoes, and the fettuccini and shrimp made with local corn, tomatoes, basil. For spicy kick, pizza topped with slow-cooked pork, local peppers, caramelized onions, chiles, toma cheese, white sauce, and fennel pollen, or opt for the ever-classic spaghetti, coated in black pepper, parmesan, and olive oil.

Potente

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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 pasta, 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.

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 or from the outdoor patio seating, with fun glimpses of pasta noodles being made in its kitchen, and enjoy entrees like the crispy chicken parmesan, which is plated with a side of rigatoni drenched in alfredo. (Insider tip: You can ask for spicy alfredo if you’re looking for an added kick.)

a cast iron plate with meatballs topped with red sauce, parmesan, and parsley.
Craving red sauce? Try North Italia’s meatballs in a red sauce perfect for sopping up with fresh bread.
North Italia

Tiny Champions

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From the owners of Nancy’s Hustle, this modern, laid-back Italian restaurant serves up an assortment of show-stopping pizzas and pasta creations, but the salads and appetizers are just as exciting. Diners swear by the creamy braised butter beans, a cozy starter served with charred pickled peppers, garlic toum, and torn croutons. And you can relive a slice of your childhood with superb desserts, like the elevated ice cream cake — most recently made with pistachio cake, peach sorbet, and layers of lemon verbena and cherry ice cream.

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 for sharing. Don’t forget the fresh-baked focaccia bread, served warm and drizzled with olive oil and herbs.

a greenhouse-like dining room 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

Stop into this Italian chophouse for its tender Tuscan fried chicken, light and flavorful blue crab bruschetta, a bolognese with a hint of sweetness, and hand-cut grilled steaks with just the right amount of char. Stay for the live music held throughout the week, and be sure to end the experience with a bowl of creamy tiramisu that’s worth every bite.

A plethora of Marmo’s steak offerings.
Marmo offers an array of pastas, steaks, and more.
Kirsten Gilliam

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 and affordable Italian eats. Stop in for a classic hoagie, or stay awhile with a dish like pasta amatriciana, the canestri alla funghi — a creamy mushroom pasta, or the dinner special offered Monday through Saturday. Tip if visiting in a group: Order the half portions of multiple plates of pasta to share.

A River Oaks hidden gem, Lulu’s offers delicious Italian staples, including a bolognese made with slow-braised beef tip, and crispy fried calamari, accompanied by a sweet balsamic glaze and banana peppers. A focaccia fanatic? Try the restaurant’s newest $5 bread service, which offers freshly baked focaccia slices and mini loaves served with whipped honey and olive oil.

Crispy calamari in a bowl, sitting atop a menu at Lulu’s.
The calamari at Lulu’s is a must-try appetizer.
Kirsten Gilliam

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.

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-dried tomatoes, and basil butter.
Carrabbas

With influences from both Naples and Milan, this high-end Italian restaurant delivers on occasion dining, with dishes like the squash-filled pansoti; 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.

Coppa Osteria

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At this quaint Italian restaurant, it’s all about the dough and more: 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 or the wood-fired funghi pizza. If you’re looking for a quick bite, grab the $15 pizza rapido lunch special, which comes with half a cheese or pepperoni pizza 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, roasted octopus, or the earthy and refreshing beet salad. Then, move on to scene-stealers like lamb ragù with campanelle, 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 around a dozen types of bruschetta 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 around a dozen types of bruschetta 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 wild Gulf snapper served with okra confit, sofrito, and fingerling potatoes, and the fettuccini and shrimp made with local corn, tomatoes, basil. For spicy kick, pizza topped with slow-cooked pork, local peppers, caramelized onions, chiles, toma cheese, white sauce, and fennel pollen, or opt for the ever-classic spaghetti, coated in black pepper, parmesan, and olive oil.

Potente

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 pasta, 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.

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

a cast iron plate with meatballs topped with red sauce, parmesan, and parsley.
Craving red sauce? Try North Italia’s meatballs in a red sauce perfect for sopping up with fresh bread.
North Italia

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 or from the outdoor patio seating, with fun glimpses of pasta noodles being made in its kitchen, and enjoy entrees like the crispy chicken parmesan, which is plated with a side of rigatoni drenched in alfredo. (Insider tip: You can ask for spicy alfredo if you’re looking for an added kick.)

a cast iron plate with meatballs topped with red sauce, parmesan, and parsley.
Craving red sauce? Try North Italia’s meatballs in a red sauce perfect for sopping up with fresh bread.
North Italia

Tiny Champions

From the owners of Nancy’s Hustle, this modern, laid-back Italian restaurant serves up an assortment of show-stopping pizzas and pasta creations, but the salads and appetizers are just as exciting. Diners swear by the creamy braised butter beans, a cozy starter served with charred pickled peppers, garlic toum, and torn croutons. And you can relive a slice of your childhood with superb desserts, like the elevated ice cream cake — most recently made with pistachio cake, peach sorbet, and layers of lemon verbena and cherry ice cream.

Ostia

a greenhouse-like dining room 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

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 for sharing. Don’t forget the fresh-baked focaccia bread, served warm and drizzled with olive oil and herbs.

a greenhouse-like dining room 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

Marmo

A plethora of Marmo’s steak offerings.
Marmo offers an array of pastas, steaks, and more.
Kirsten Gilliam

Stop into this Italian chophouse for its tender Tuscan fried chicken, light and flavorful blue crab bruschetta, a bolognese with a hint of sweetness, and hand-cut grilled steaks with just the right amount of char. Stay for the live music held throughout the week, and be sure to end the experience with a bowl of creamy tiramisu that’s worth every bite.

A plethora of Marmo’s steak offerings.
Marmo offers an array of pastas, steaks, and more.
Kirsten Gilliam

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 and affordable Italian eats. Stop in for a classic hoagie, or stay awhile with a dish like pasta amatriciana, the canestri alla funghi — a creamy mushroom pasta, or the dinner special offered Monday through Saturday. Tip if visiting in a group: Order the half portions of multiple plates of pasta to share.

Lulu's

Crispy calamari in a bowl, sitting atop a menu at Lulu’s.
The calamari at Lulu’s is a must-try appetizer.
Kirsten Gilliam

A River Oaks hidden gem, Lulu’s offers delicious Italian staples, including a bolognese made with slow-braised beef tip, and crispy fried calamari, accompanied by a sweet balsamic glaze and banana peppers. A focaccia fanatic? Try the restaurant’s newest $5 bread service, which offers freshly baked focaccia slices and mini loaves served with whipped honey and olive oil.

Crispy calamari in a bowl, sitting atop a menu at Lulu’s.
The calamari at Lulu’s is a must-try appetizer.
Kirsten Gilliam

Giacomo's Cibo e Vino

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.

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-dried 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-dried tomatoes, and basil butter.
Carrabbas

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Tony's

With influences from both Naples and Milan, this high-end Italian restaurant delivers on occasion dining, with dishes like the squash-filled pansoti; 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.

Coppa Osteria

At this quaint Italian restaurant, it’s all about the dough and more: 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

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 or the wood-fired funghi pizza. If you’re looking for a quick bite, grab the $15 pizza rapido lunch special, which comes with half a cheese or pepperoni pizza and a side salad.

Related Maps