12 Irresistible Italian Restaurants in Minneapolis
Italian food is celebrated globally for a reason. Made from scratch pasta, perfectly tender meatballs, thin crusted pizzas...need we say more? Minneapolis is home to creative Italian restaurants with superb flavors, beautiful atmospheres and date night deals. Dine at these Italian restaurants to have a *bella notte* in Minneapolis.
To make planning your evening easier, we've grouped these restaurants by region in Minneapolis.
For a lovely ambiance, dine at Giulia nestled in the foliage-filled and column-lined lobby of Hotel Emery. Giulia’s menu focuses on Northern Italian cuisine and the bar mixes craft cocktails with local spirits and pours Italian wines. While you dine, you’ll get a view of the open kitchen where small plates, fresh pasta and wood-fired pizzas are prepared. Giulia serves decadent brunch on weekends, like chocolatey crepes and pizzas topped with eggs.
Seeing a show or orchestra performance downtown? Make reservations at Zelo for simple and fresh Italian cuisine. A staple restaurant in downtown Minneapolis since 1999, it’ll be hard to choose between pizza and flatbreads, pasta, a burger or steak. And if you don’t have a ton of time to spare, enjoy a glass of wine at their classy bar.
Find approachable, delicious and friendly Italian fare in East Town. EaTo is a great spot for dinner before a show at the Guthrie Theater, and the seasonal dinner menu has enough variety to keep you going back for more. Pastas and pizzas are the stars of the menu…the penne alla vodka is a delicious choice as is the funghi pizza, which has a creamy white sauce. Enjoy your bites in the colorful eatery or outside during patio season. (Psst…don’t miss their happy hour! Five-dollar wines, $6 cocktails and $7 snacks!)
4. Bar La Grassa
Regarded as one of the best date night restaurants in Minneapolis, Bar La Grassa is swanky and guaranteed to treat your tastebuds well. Headed by James Beard award-winning chef Isaac Baker and Nancy St. Pierre, the menu is filled with unique varieties of decadent pasta, smooth wines and perfect desserts. To be truly blown away, order the gnocchi with cauliflower and orange or the maltagliati with milk-braised short rib and ricotta sugo.
112 Eatery is sophisticated and elegant with a cozy and homey feel and great service. Expect dimly lit dining rooms, exposed brick and colorful art adorning the walls. Salad fans should order the wilted kale salad for its sweet and salty almond vinaigrette. If you’re looking to splurge, try the gnocchi with lobster and arrabbiata sauce, and the 112 Cheeseburger is delicious if you want a handheld. The menu features frog legs, an Italian delicacy, too.
6. Red Rabbit
Red Rabbit is what we would call “rustic-chic” and has neighborhood vibes. With its low lighting, exposed brick and cozy red booths, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a hearty Italian meal. A standout menu item here? Spaghetti and meatballs. We know it’s simple, but this dish is made to perfection. The meatballs are tender, and the flavors of the red sauce are enhanced with herbs and slices of garlic.
Looking for Italian food with a cultural twist? Visit Chef Daniel del Prado’s Sanjusan for Japanese-Italian culinary perfection. Think Italian dishes with Japanese flavors, like miso pesto, spicy pork, raw tuna and toasted nori. Don’t skip over the yakitori section of the menu. These skewered pieces of chicken, tenderloin, meatballs and more are a great addition to your pasta or pizza.
New to the block is Dario, which is becoming popular for its handmade pastas of all shapes, colors and flavors. Stop in for a weeknight drink, a plate of pasta or try a multi-course experience. The menu features four sections: raw oysters, crudo (raw fish-focused dishes), pasta and vegetables. Sharing and mixing and matching is encouraged here. Dine in the main room or the Pasta Room and enjoy the delightfully pink and blue modern interior.
A neighborhood eatery at heart, ie (Italian Eatery) specializes in Italian dishes made from scratch that won’t break the bank. People flock here for flavorful handmade pasta dishes — like the savory mushroom cappelletti and pappardelle with yam puree, whipped ricotta and honey — but you can’t go wrong with any of the mains either. Try the dry rubbed beef short rib and consider getting a plate of Roman meatballs to share. For sips and snacks, visit their sister space, Un Dito, for a menu inspired by Sicilian seaside street food.
For a budget-friendly dinner for two, visit Pinoli by Minneapolis’ Chain of Lakes for some of the best date night specials in town. Their most popular special is a Roman pizza dinner. Choose an anti pasti, two Roman pizzas, a dessert to share plus a bottle of wine for $42. Pinoli’s pizzas are topped with anything from braised mushroom to pistachio and truffle and marinated seafood.
At Broder’s Pasta Bar, pasta is served the way it’s meant to be: fresh, al dente and perfectly sauced. The menu is filled with seasonal pastas, but Broder’s is known for the classics. The penne rosmarino is a favorite among customers for its rosemary tomato cream chili sauce. Don’t fill up with just bread and pasta though — save room for the chocolate cherry cheesecake.
Everything from pasta and meatballs to bruschetta and braised pork is done right at Prima. This neighborhood restaurant has fed locals Italian fare since 1999 and is a go-to spot for many. Order the roasted beet salad to start and enjoy it with a basket of bread. Favorite dishes on the menu are the goat cheese and herb ravioli and the grilled chicken risotto. Dining with kids? They’ll love the simple penne noodles with butter and parmesan.