20 February, 2020, 17:38

Guide to 30 Italian restaurants dishing up hearty portions & family recipes

Get your twirling forks ready.

Whether you want a plate of authentic cacio e pepe or a bowl of something to remind you of nonna’s Sunday gravy, Tucson has you covered.

Although much of Tucson’s fame comes from Mexican cuisine, Tucson’s Italian history reaches back several decades. As a result, we also have dozens of Italian restaurants to choose from.

For the sake of brevity, we’ve excluded pizzerias unless their menu includes a significant amount of non-pizza Italian dishes. For the pizzeria guide, read our November 2019 article Guide to 34 pizzerias in Tucson: grab yourself a slice.

Alloro D.O.C.

7600 E. Broadway Blvd. Ste. 200
Pappardelle at Alloro D.O.C. Italian Trattoria and Chophouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Pappardelle at Alloro D.O.C. Italian Trattoria and Chophouse (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Alloro is tucked away, hidden in the Hilton Tucson East. However, it offers exceptional fresh-made pasta and modern Italian cuisine. Don’t miss out on the short rib Pappardelle.

For more information, visit hilton.com/dining.

Argenziano’s

16251 S. Houghton Rd.

One of the southeastern-most restaurants in Tucson, Argenziano’s offers pizzas, calzones, and classic Italian-American dishes. Go for the Seafood Soup with angel hair pasta, or the signature Green Chili Carbonara.

Keep up with Argenziano’s on Facebook.

Bacio Italiano

943 E. University Blvd.
Antipasto Plate at Bacio Italiano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Antipasto Plate at Bacio Italiano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

A new Main Gate Square staple, Bacio features what they call “Neapolitan-New York” Italian cuisine. Start your meal with the generous Antipasto Plate, then move onto a bowl of pasta or a calzone.

Read our October 2019 article Bacio Italiano brings “Neapolitan-New York” cuisine to Main Gate Square.

Keep up with Bacio Italiano on Facebook.

Bazil’s

4777 E. Sunrise Dr.
Shrimp and Scallops at Bazil's

Shrimp and Scallops at Bazil’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

A longtime neighborhood staple, Bazil’s features cushy booths and an intimate environment. While they carry a wide range of Italian dishes, their veal and seafood are the standouts.

Read our September 2019 article After 40 years, Northeast Tucson’s Bazil’s still delights.

For more information, visit bazilstucson.com.

Bianchi’s Italian

1110 N. Silverbell Rd. • 3620 W. Tangerine Rd.

Bianchi’s serves up homestyle comforting cuisine at both of their Tucson locations.

For more information, visit bianchisitalian.com.

Bottega Michelangelo

420 W. Magee Rd.
Nonna Antoinetta's Pasta al Forno at Bottega Michelangelo (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Nonna Antoinetta’s Pasta al Forno at Bottega Michelangelo (Credit: Chelsey Wade)

Bottega Michelangelo has all the shiny polish of a new restaurant thanks to their recent renovations. However, taste the food and the years of experience become clear. Don’t miss out on their brunch and happy hour too.

Read our May 2019 article 10 fun facts to celebrate Bottega Michelangelo’s 30th anniversary.

For more information, visit bottegamichelangelo.com.

Caffe Milano

46 W. Congress St.
Tagliatelle at Caffe Milano

Tagliatelle at Caffe Milano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Caffe Milano’s cuisine is more Italian rather than Italian-American; the chef has only been in America for a few years. Try the handmade gnocchi and sign up for one of their cooking classes.

Read our November 2019 article At Caffé Milano, Chef Fulvia Steffenone Brings a Taste of Italy to Tucson.

For more information, visit lafuficaffemilano.com.

Caffe Torino

10325 N. La Canada Dr. • 5605 E. River Rd. Ste. 121
Risotto Capesante e Gamberi at Caffe Torino in the Foothills (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Risotto Capesante e Gamberi at Caffe Torino in the Foothills (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Caffe Torino specializes in Northern Italian cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere. They also feature an extensive wine and whiskey collection.

Read our April 2019 article Experience Fine Northern Italian Cuisine at Caffe Torino in the Foothills.

For more information, visit caffetorinotucson.com.

Caruso’s

434 N. Fourth Ave.
Caruso's (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Caruso’s (Credit: Jackie Tran)

A Fourth Avenue staple for over seven decades, Caruso’s features a gorgeous patio. The Meat Lasagna has a loyal following.

For more information, visit carusositalian.com.

CERES

77 W. Washington St.
Cacio e pepe at CERES

Cacio e pepe at CERES (Credit: Jackie Tran)

One of our favorite new restaurants of 2019, CERES features a tiny menu of fresh pasta made daily along with intriguing specials. They also offer fresh to-go pasta to cook at home.

Read our October 2019 article Cafe “CERES” brings fresh hand-made pasta & bread to El Presidio.

For more information, visit cerestucson.com.

Charred Pie

12125 N. Oracle Rd., Ste. 105
Happy Hour Meatballs at Charred Pie

Happy Hour Meatballs at Charred Pie (Credit: Jackie Tran)

While pizza is the star, Charred Pie also offers an assortment of Italian cocktails, pastas, sandwiches, and salads. If you’re there during happy hour, make sure to get some Meatballs.

For more information, visit charredpie.com.

Dolce Vita Italian Bistro

1800 E. Fort Lowell Rd. Ste. 168

Strangely enough, the Bowtie Pasta Salad is one of the best features at Dolce Vita.

Keep up with Dolce Vita on Facebook.

Dominick’s Real Italian

8330 N. Thornydale Rd., Ste 170

Dominick’s serves family-style dishes and pizzas. Their Chicken Marsala is one of their most popular dishes.

For more information, visit dominicksrealitalian.com.

Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria

3011 E. Speedway Blvd.
Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

Fresco Pizzeria & Pastaria (Credit: Taylor Noel Photography)

While Fresco is best known for their pizza, you’d be a fool to miss out on their Stuffed Shells. Their from-scratch quality shines the brightest with their house-made sausages and smoked meats.

For more information, visit frescopizzeria.com.

Guiseppe’s Ristorante Italiano

6060 N. Oracle Rd.

Guiseppe’s features a casual environment with hearty portions. The Stuffed Mushrooms are the house specialty to look out for.

For more information, visit guiseppesristorante.com.

Gusto Osteria

7153 E. Tanque Verde Rd.

A northeast side favorite, make sure to order a Manicotti per person at the table. Like Guiseppe’s, the Stuffed Mushrooms are also a specialty.

For more information, visit gustotucson.com

Los Olivos

937 W. Congress St.
Shrimp al Olivo at Los Olivos Pizzeria (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Shrimp al Olivo at Los Olivos Pizzeria (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Hidden just west of downtown, Los Olivos is easily one of the most affordable Italian restaurants in Tucson. While the pizza is the popular favorite, customers also love the lasagna.

Read our January 2018 article Los Olivos Pizzeria is a charming hidden gem on Tucson’s west side

Keep up with Los Olivos Pizzeria en Menlo Park on Facebook

Mama Louisa’s Italian Restaurant

2041 S. Craycroft Rd.

Proud home of the driest salad bar (just kidding, watch this video to get the joke), Mama Louisa’s offers the classic red-checkered tablecloth experience. As a Tucsonan, it’s an obligation to try Joe’s Special at least once.

Read our April 2019 article Your Guide to 31 of Tucson’s Most Iconic Dishes.

For more information, visit mamalouisas.com.

Piazza Gavi

5415 N. Kolb Rd.
Pasta at Piazza Gavi

Pasta at Piazza Gavi (Photo courtesy of Piazza Gavi on Facebook)

Gavi serves upscale Italian cuisine with highly accommodating service. The classic Bolognese is where the chef’s talent shines.

For more information, visit gavicucina.com.

Primo

3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.
Spaghetti & Meatballs at Primo

Spaghetti & Meatballs (Photo courtesy of Primo on Facebook)

Although Primo is not a Tucson-exclusive restaurant, its led by James Beard award-winning chef Melissa Kelly. As a result, the quality of the local ingredients comes to the forefront.

For more information, visit marriott.com/hotel-restaurants.

Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta

4340 N. Campbell Ave., Ste. 104
Fettuccine Bolognese at Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Fettuccine Bolognese at Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The from-scratch attitude helps the simplest dishes stand out. Whether it be served with spaghetti, in a sandwich, or as an appetizer, don’t miss out on the outstanding Meatballs.

For more information, visit prooftucson.com.

Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink

101 E. Pennington St.
Tagliatelle at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Tagliatelle at Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Reilly provides a complete experience with its exceptional cocktails, outdoor beer garden, and superb scratch-made dishes. While they’re arguably one of the hippest Italian restaurants in town, they also rock with timeless pasta dishes such as Rigatoni in vodka sauce.

For more information, visit reillypizza.com.

Roma Imports

627 S. Vine Ave.
Ultimate Roma sandwich at Roma Imports (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Ultimate Roma sandwich at Roma Imports (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Will their deli and refrigerated goods are enough to make any foodie squeal with joy, come and try their exceptional Italian sandwiches. The Ultimate Roma is a favorite, but it’s hard to go wrong here.

Read our August 2015 article Roma Imports: Italian Charm Just South of Broadway.

For more information, visit romaimports.com.

Tavolino Ristorante Italiano

2890 E. Skyline Dr.
Gamberoni alla Griglia at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Gamberoni alla Griglia at Tavolino Ristorante Italiano (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Tavolino features modern elegant vibes with a patio primo for happy hour. For a showstopper, order the Tajarin al Nero di Seppia, which features squid ink pasta with shrimp, cherry tomato, and garlic in a saffron white wine sauce.

For more information, visit tavolinoristorante.com.

Tony’s Italian Deli

6219 E. 22nd St.

Tony’s naturally features all the deli classics; order one of the combo packages with their meaty Lasagna to take home and bake.

For more information, visit tonysdeliaz.com.

Trattoria Pina

5541 N. Swan Rd.

The handmade Gnocchi is available with arrabbiata sauce, pesto, and marinara. Save room for homemade dessert as well.

For more information, visit trattoriapina.com.

Vero Amore

2920 N. Swan Rd. • 12130 N. Dove Mountain Blvd. Ste. 104
Fettucine Alfredo at Vero Amore (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Fettucine Alfredo at Vero Amore (Credit: Jackie Tran)

While Vero Amore earned its fame with Neapolitan pizza, they also offer a wide assortment of pastas. For a grand experience at the Swan location, order the Fettuccine Alfredo prepared in a flaming wheel of parmesan tableside.

For more information, visit veroamorepizza.com.

Viro’s Real Italian Bakery & Cafe

8301 E. 22nd St.
Meatball Sub at Viro's Real Italian Bakery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Meatball Sub at Viro’s Real Italian Bakery (Credit: Jackie Tran)

If you recently had a great Tucson sandwich, there’s a good chance it was served on Viro’s bread. They also sell their own sandwiches worth venturing for, especially the Meatball Sub.

Read our January 2020 article Viro’s cranks out thousands of loaves baked for the bakery-cafe & local restaurants daily.

For more information, visit virosbakery.com.

Vivace Restaurant

6440 N. Campbell Ave.
Linguini with Grilled Salmon

Linguini with Grilled Salmon (Photo courtesy of Vivace)

One of Tucson’s highest-ranked Italian restaurants on review websites, Vivace has earned a longtime loyal following thanks to chef Danny Scordato. The Crab Filled Breaded Chicken Breast is legendary.

For more information, visit vivacetucson.com.

Zona 78

7301 E. Tanque Verde Rd.
Arancini and Pesto at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Arancini and Pesto at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

A local happy hour favorite, Zona 78 proudly sources locally and makes their own charcuterie. Go wild with both the Antipasti Platter and the Chef’s Bruschetta Board.

For more information, visit zona78.com.

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