10-spots for italian


By Jason Horn

Bettola Italian Fare

Bettola

Chef James Lewis and his rigorously authentic Italian dishes have received plenty of national acclaim, from being named one of the best new chefs of 2011 by Food & Wine to a James Beard Award semifinalist nod this year. The wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas and more are all wonderful.

2901 2nd Ave. S; 205-731-6499;

GianMarco’s

If you’re going to GianMarco’s for dinner, expect a wait. But there’s a reason for that: Its versions of Italian classics are pretty much universally delicious. Your best bet is to order one of the daily specials, which are always delightful.

721 Broadway St., Homewood

205-871-9622

Giuseppe’s Café

Tucked away in the Gable Square shopping center in Glen Iris, this might be one of the city’s best-kept secrets. It’s nothing fancy, but the home-style pastas, pizzas and sandwiches are excellent — and extremely affordable. Don’t miss the meatball sub.

925 8th St. S; 205-324-2626

DeVinci’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant

Another place that does the basics but does them beautifully is this Homewood spot. The chicken and eggplant Parmigiana are both very tasty, as is anything involving the house-made sausage. The place is also open for breakfast, serving great pancakes and omelets.

2707 18th St. S, Homewood 205-879-1455;

Bottega

He may be a Southerner through and through, but Frank Stitt sure has a way with Italian food. The beautiful patio and casual café menu at this Southside spot are an ideal way to pass an afternoon or evening. Make sure to try the mac and cheese, or, if it’s a Monday, the crab cake.

2240 Highland Ave. S; 205-939-1000

Rocky’s Pizza and Italian Foods

The best pizza-delivery joint in the city also happens to offer big portions of lasagna, chicken Alfredo and other Italian dishes. And that’s not to mention the place’s legendary muffuletta, one of the best versions of that sandwich to be found outside New Orleans.

715 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. S

205-252-8282;

Joe’s Italian

If ever there was a reason to trek all the way to Alabaster for a meal, this is it. Owned by Italian immigrants who ran a successful restaurant in California before “retiring” to Alabama, the place offers amazing pastas that’ll make you want to stuff yourself, but save room for an absurdly massive slice of cake for dessert. 21 Weatherly Club Dr., Alabaster

205-663-4111;

Vino

The newest addition to English Village, this elegant eatery recently expanded its patio, offering even more space to enjoy its mix of Italian, Middle Eastern and Greek dishes. The house-special apple fritters are a must to end your meal.

1930 Cahaba Rd., Mountain Brook

205-870-8404;

Trattoria Centrale

Friday-night dinner is when this hip downtown pizzeria really shows off its Italian chops, serving an array of seasonal pastas and other dishes made from local produce that are reliably awesome. But that’s not to say the lunchtime pizzas and specials aren’t also well worth a try.

207A 20th St. N; 205-202-5612

Mafiaoza’s

Offering simple dishes like spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread and thin-crust pizzas, as well as more fancy antipasti, salads and pastas, this Crestline Village establishment is good for the whole family. And if you need a place to watch the game with better eats than the typical sports bar, it’s also a good choice. 2 Dexter Ave., Mountain Brook 205-414-7878;

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