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An individual-sized lasagna with red wine-tomato braised beef, red sauce, and béchamel.
Lasagna from Avo.
Avo

Here Are the Tastiest Italian Eats in New Orleans

Celebrate New Orleans’s Italian roots at these restaurants

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Lasagna from Avo.
| Avo

Creole Italian food has a particular slant in New Orleans, informed by a wealth of Gulf seafood and the local creed that more — sauce, cheese, cheese on seafood — is better. The city’s influx of mostly Sicilian immigrants in the late 19th century (an estimated 290,000 settled here) expanded the New Orleans table to embrace that island’s particular type of cuisine. That influence, which at one point transformed the French Market area into “little Palermo,” is still apparent on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19, when altars made of pastry, fruit, and bread honor the patron Saint of Sicily.

New Orleans diners can celebrate the city’s Italian roots any day with a visit to one of these restaurants, a wide-ranging sampling of the area’s best regional Italian, Creole-Italian, and American-Italian cuisine, from the West Bank to the French Quarter.

Looking specifically for pizza? Here are the area’s essential pizza joints, and find the area’s best pasta here.

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Rizzuto's Ristorante & Chop House

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This family-run swank spot in Lakeview has date night written all over it. Rizzuto’s dishes the likes of shrimp fra diavolo and homemade crab and lobster ravioli along with an array of prime beef that includes a big ticket 14-ounce prime spinalis steak. Expensive but worth it. Executive chef Jason Caronna is third generation — his immigrant grandparents ran a small grocery store in the French Quarter.

An eggplant parmesan dish is served on a white plate.
Eggplant Valentin at Rizzuto’s.
Rizzuto’s

Venezia

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Making up one of the city’s best blocks for true Italian cuisine, Carrollton Avenue’s Venezia is a Mid City staple, an old-school eatery serving red gravy, stuffed shells, and chicken marsala. The pizza is terrific, sort of a New Jersey-style pie, and comes in classic combinations. Angelo Brocato’s next door is a must-visit for a post-pizza gelato.

Mandina's Restaurant

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A neighborhood staple since 1932, Mandina’s serves comforting, old school Creole Italian seafood and other New Orleans classics (like po’ boys, gumbo, and red beans). Get the daube spaghetti, or Thursday’s bruccialone (like braciole, veal rolled and stuffed with spinach, egg, and seasonings) with shell pasta.

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Arabella Casa Di Pasta

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Have your pasta your way at Arabella’s, a laid-back and affordable Italian spot where diners build their own, combining a pasta shape, a sauce (there are seven, including puttanesca and spicy tomato cream), and add-ons like meatballs, mushrooms, roasted red peppers and more. House specialties include the John Lemon, which tosses shrimp, arugula and lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil in fettuccini, or the Yolko Ono, a riff on carbonara that includes pancetta, roasted garlic, and lots of black pepper over spaghetti, all topped with a runny egg yolk.

Adolfo's

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The passing of chef Adolfo Perez Palavacini last August was a blow to the many fans of his rich Creole Italian cuisine on Frenchmen Street. His family is keeping his legacy alive at Adolfo’s, situated above the Apple Barrel, a no-frills joint that draws legions of loyal regulars. Almost everything is tasty and sizable, laced with cream and slathered with cheese. Try the shrimp alfredo, mussels marinara over spaghetti, and of course the cannelloni.

Paladar 511

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This noisy trattoria is a neighborhood gem in the Marigny, a reclaimed warehouse space perfumed with garlic, tomato sauce, and pizza. The Paladar 511 menu is trendy — Brussels with Calabrian chili, squid ink spaghetti with crab meat — as well as nodding to the classics. Get the pork saltimbocca.

Mona Lisa

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This easy-to-miss gem in the French Quarter is a longtime favorite for Italian-American classics in a funky setting, complete with red and white checkered tablecloths and walls covered in hundreds of versions of the Mona Lisa. Expect huge portions of simple but satisfying garlic bread, calzones and subs, pizzas, and entrees like eggplant parm, shrimp scampi, and baked ziti.

The Italian Barrel

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Try a negroni — they are excellent here — and enjoy the Italian Barrel’s Northern Italian accent just steps from the French Market. Chef Samantha Castagnetti knows her way around the kitchen with dishes like veal meatballs in red sauce, penne a la vodka, and osso bucco. Sit at a sidewalk table and people watch or inside in the understated dining room.

Fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms & truffle topped with a creamy white wine sauce and splash of extra virgin white truffle olive oil
Porcini & Truffle Ravioli.
The Italian Barrel

Irene's

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Long ensconced on St. Phillip Street, Irene’s moved to Bienville a few years back, taking its garlicky goodness along for the ride. Namesake and proprietor Irene DiPietro, in business since 1993, sets a high bar with specialties like the Sicilian antipasti — big enough to share — and oysters Irene made with pancetta and pecorino Romano. Regulars were happy to see that the piano bar survived the move.

Irene’s
Irene’s

Josephine Estelle

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Josephine Estelle is an osteria from James Beard Award-nominated Memphis chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, their first foray into New Orleans. A season-driven menu includes homemade pastas (get the simply wonderful cacio e pepe), soft shell crabs if it’s your lucky day, and the duck confit with Marsala sauce. Impressive cocktail and wine list too.

Cacio e pepe from Josephine Estelle
Josephine Estelle/Facebook

Gianna Restaurant

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Warehouse District stunner Gianna, from the prolific Link Restaurant Group, serves smartly conceived regional Italian specialties — refined but homey versions of ribollita soup, spaghetti and clams, and veal saltimbocca. Although the menu is rustic, the setting is not — this is a stylishly modern restaurant. Lunch is about to expand to seven days a week, great news.

If images of gorgeous Sophia Loren aren’t enough to inspire you, take a look at Sofia’s menu. The pretty and casual Julia street restaurant serves a menu of modern Italian, with an emphasis on salads, small plates, and pizzas. Those are delicious, same goes for the pastas and the blue crab risotto. Don’t miss the wagyu beef crudo with truffle aioli.

Sofia’s margherita pizza, shrimp scampi, beet salad, and squid
Sofia’s margherita pizza, shrimp scampi, beet salad, and squid
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Vincent's Italian Cuisine

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Chef Vincent Catalanotto opened the Metairie location of his fine-dining Italian restaurant more than 30 years ago, followed by this Riverbend spot, with many of the dishes reflecting his Sicilian roots. Beyond favorites like veal parm and chicken Marsala, Vincent’s house special is seafood cannelloni, tender pasta stuffed with shrimp, crawfish, and crab simmered in a delicate rosa sauce — think the love child of red sauce and Alfredo.

Oak Oven

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Oak Oven’s drag strip location may seem an unlikely candidate for traditional, expert Italian cuisine and Napoletana pizza, yet the menu was derived from experiences training under Michelin-starred Italian chefs. Visit for a taste of Sicily in Harahan, including wood-fired pizzas, warming soups, and lesser-found classics like veal marsala and penne diavola.

San Lorenzo at Hotel Saint Vincent

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Chef Laura Collins is the chef behind the outstanding San Lorenzo in Hotel St. Vincent with its menu of coastal cuisine inspired by the likes of Le Sirenuse in Positano. The menu is seafood-centric, with an emphasis on seasonal, sustainably line-caught, and bycatch fish. Pasta is fresh — try fresh squid ink chitarra with its winning combination of jalapeno, sweet uni, and crabmeat bright with citrus. Revelatory.

There’s nothing Creole Italian about chef Nick Lama’s upscale Avo, which means “grandfather” or “ancestor,” in Italian. The third-generation Sicilian spotlights regional Italian cuisine and ingredients like figs, gorgonzola, Calabrian chilies, and every manner of homemade pasta. The food is gorgeous and informed by passion and allegiance to pristine ingredients. Get the meatballs, get the charred octopus, get yourself to Avo.

Tony Mandina's

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This family-owned Sicilian restaurant has ruled in Gretna fore more than 40 years, and with good reason. Tony Mandina’s is wonderfully old school, the kind of place where bridal showers are big affairs and red gravy is serious business. Classic meatballs, veal Alfredo with crabmeat, and an awesome chicken parm. It’s 10 minutes from downtown, make it happen.

Mosca's

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Cross the Huey P. Long Bridge to the West Bank and keep going, and going, until you get to Mosca’s, an esteemed family-run Creole Italian roadhouse that sits along a dark stretch of Highway 90 West. Opened for business in 1946, the unchanged menu includes garlic-infused specialties like barbecued shrimp, baked oysters, and of course the Chicken ala Grande, roasted with tons of fresh garlic, herbs, and white wine.  

A plate of chicken drumsticks and thighs served with a plate of spaghetti
Mosca’s spaghetti and chicken a la grande.
Mosca’s Restaurant

Rizzuto's Ristorante & Chop House

This family-run swank spot in Lakeview has date night written all over it. Rizzuto’s dishes the likes of shrimp fra diavolo and homemade crab and lobster ravioli along with an array of prime beef that includes a big ticket 14-ounce prime spinalis steak. Expensive but worth it. Executive chef Jason Caronna is third generation — his immigrant grandparents ran a small grocery store in the French Quarter.

An eggplant parmesan dish is served on a white plate.
Eggplant Valentin at Rizzuto’s.
Rizzuto’s

Venezia

Making up one of the city’s best blocks for true Italian cuisine, Carrollton Avenue’s Venezia is a Mid City staple, an old-school eatery serving red gravy, stuffed shells, and chicken marsala. The pizza is terrific, sort of a New Jersey-style pie, and comes in classic combinations. Angelo Brocato’s next door is a must-visit for a post-pizza gelato.

Mandina's Restaurant

A neighborhood staple since 1932, Mandina’s serves comforting, old school Creole Italian seafood and other New Orleans classics (like po’ boys, gumbo, and red beans). Get the daube spaghetti, or Thursday’s bruccialone (like braciole, veal rolled and stuffed with spinach, egg, and seasonings) with shell pasta.

Shutterstock

Arabella Casa Di Pasta

Have your pasta your way at Arabella’s, a laid-back and affordable Italian spot where diners build their own, combining a pasta shape, a sauce (there are seven, including puttanesca and spicy tomato cream), and add-ons like meatballs, mushrooms, roasted red peppers and more. House specialties include the John Lemon, which tosses shrimp, arugula and lemon-infused extra virgin olive oil in fettuccini, or the Yolko Ono, a riff on carbonara that includes pancetta, roasted garlic, and lots of black pepper over spaghetti, all topped with a runny egg yolk.

Adolfo's

The passing of chef Adolfo Perez Palavacini last August was a blow to the many fans of his rich Creole Italian cuisine on Frenchmen Street. His family is keeping his legacy alive at Adolfo’s, situated above the Apple Barrel, a no-frills joint that draws legions of loyal regulars. Almost everything is tasty and sizable, laced with cream and slathered with cheese. Try the shrimp alfredo, mussels marinara over spaghetti, and of course the cannelloni.

Paladar 511

This noisy trattoria is a neighborhood gem in the Marigny, a reclaimed warehouse space perfumed with garlic, tomato sauce, and pizza. The Paladar 511 menu is trendy — Brussels with Calabrian chili, squid ink spaghetti with crab meat — as well as nodding to the classics. Get the pork saltimbocca.

Mona Lisa

This easy-to-miss gem in the French Quarter is a longtime favorite for Italian-American classics in a funky setting, complete with red and white checkered tablecloths and walls covered in hundreds of versions of the Mona Lisa. Expect huge portions of simple but satisfying garlic bread, calzones and subs, pizzas, and entrees like eggplant parm, shrimp scampi, and baked ziti.

The Italian Barrel

Try a negroni — they are excellent here — and enjoy the Italian Barrel’s Northern Italian accent just steps from the French Market. Chef Samantha Castagnetti knows her way around the kitchen with dishes like veal meatballs in red sauce, penne a la vodka, and osso bucco. Sit at a sidewalk table and people watch or inside in the understated dining room.

Fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms & truffle topped with a creamy white wine sauce and splash of extra virgin white truffle olive oil
Porcini & Truffle Ravioli.
The Italian Barrel

Irene's

Long ensconced on St. Phillip Street, Irene’s moved to Bienville a few years back, taking its garlicky goodness along for the ride. Namesake and proprietor Irene DiPietro, in business since 1993, sets a high bar with specialties like the Sicilian antipasti — big enough to share — and oysters Irene made with pancetta and pecorino Romano. Regulars were happy to see that the piano bar survived the move.

Irene’s
Irene’s

Josephine Estelle

Josephine Estelle is an osteria from James Beard Award-nominated Memphis chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, their first foray into New Orleans. A season-driven menu includes homemade pastas (get the simply wonderful cacio e pepe), soft shell crabs if it’s your lucky day, and the duck confit with Marsala sauce. Impressive cocktail and wine list too.

Cacio e pepe from Josephine Estelle
Josephine Estelle/Facebook

Gianna Restaurant

Warehouse District stunner Gianna, from the prolific Link Restaurant Group, serves smartly conceived regional Italian specialties — refined but homey versions of ribollita soup, spaghetti and clams, and veal saltimbocca. Although the menu is rustic, the setting is not — this is a stylishly modern restaurant. Lunch is about to expand to seven days a week, great news.

Sofia

If images of gorgeous Sophia Loren aren’t enough to inspire you, take a look at Sofia’s menu. The pretty and casual Julia street restaurant serves a menu of modern Italian, with an emphasis on salads, small plates, and pizzas. Those are delicious, same goes for the pastas and the blue crab risotto. Don’t miss the wagyu beef crudo with truffle aioli.

Sofia’s margherita pizza, shrimp scampi, beet salad, and squid
Sofia’s margherita pizza, shrimp scampi, beet salad, and squid
Josh Brasted/Eater NOLA

Vincent's Italian Cuisine

Chef Vincent Catalanotto opened the Metairie location of his fine-dining Italian restaurant more than 30 years ago, followed by this Riverbend spot, with many of the dishes reflecting his Sicilian roots. Beyond favorites like veal parm and chicken Marsala, Vincent’s house special is seafood cannelloni, tender pasta stuffed with shrimp, crawfish, and crab simmered in a delicate rosa sauce — think the love child of red sauce and Alfredo.

Oak Oven

Oak Oven’s drag strip location may seem an unlikely candidate for traditional, expert Italian cuisine and Napoletana pizza, yet the menu was derived from experiences training under Michelin-starred Italian chefs. Visit for a taste of Sicily in Harahan, including wood-fired pizzas, warming soups, and lesser-found classics like veal marsala and penne diavola.

San Lorenzo at Hotel Saint Vincent

Chef Laura Collins is the chef behind the outstanding San Lorenzo in Hotel St. Vincent with its menu of coastal cuisine inspired by the likes of Le Sirenuse in Positano. The menu is seafood-centric, with an emphasis on seasonal, sustainably line-caught, and bycatch fish. Pasta is fresh — try fresh squid ink chitarra with its winning combination of jalapeno, sweet uni, and crabmeat bright with citrus. Revelatory.

Related Maps

Avo

There’s nothing Creole Italian about chef Nick Lama’s upscale Avo, which means “grandfather” or “ancestor,” in Italian. The third-generation Sicilian spotlights regional Italian cuisine and ingredients like figs, gorgonzola, Calabrian chilies, and every manner of homemade pasta. The food is gorgeous and informed by passion and allegiance to pristine ingredients. Get the meatballs, get the charred octopus, get yourself to Avo.

Tony Mandina's

This family-owned Sicilian restaurant has ruled in Gretna fore more than 40 years, and with good reason. Tony Mandina’s is wonderfully old school, the kind of place where bridal showers are big affairs and red gravy is serious business. Classic meatballs, veal Alfredo with crabmeat, and an awesome chicken parm. It’s 10 minutes from downtown, make it happen.

Mosca's

Cross the Huey P. Long Bridge to the West Bank and keep going, and going, until you get to Mosca’s, an esteemed family-run Creole Italian roadhouse that sits along a dark stretch of Highway 90 West. Opened for business in 1946, the unchanged menu includes garlic-infused specialties like barbecued shrimp, baked oysters, and of course the Chicken ala Grande, roasted with tons of fresh garlic, herbs, and white wine.  

A plate of chicken drumsticks and thighs served with a plate of spaghetti
Mosca’s spaghetti and chicken a la grande.
Mosca’s Restaurant

Related Maps