Italian food is comforting and hearty, with its freshly made pasta, slow-cooked tomato sauces, and meaty ragus. It’s also a romantic meal, promising a bit of old-world elegance, and the possibility of a real Lady and the Tramp-style moment on your date night.
You know Fort Worth for world-class barbecue. We are proud to be home to some of the best pitmasters in the state, and our long history of cattle ranching, and meat packing. And, as an early transportation hub (with our railways heading in all directions), the city gained its Cowtown moniker. So you know we’ve got steaks covered. But in recent years, Fort Worth has added to its credibility in a rather unexpected realm. We’ve got some serious Italian fare as well.
These are the 12 best Italian restaurants in Fort Worth:
This family-run Italian restaurant has been a date night destination since 1982. Owner Erica Paez Hight is the daughter of Aventino’s original owners Olga and Al Paez. Her husband Eric Hight is now the chef. Pasta dishes like Tortellini Aventino’s and Ravioli Carciofi, along with chicken and veal dishes, make this Ridglea neighborhood favorite a standout. Aventino’s is a sentimental favorite for sure, and they recently added a full bar to the mix.
Tim Love’s newest Italian hideaway is located in Mule Alley. He envisioned it as “analog dining” where jackets are required and cell phones are banished, hopefully easing his customers into a more meaningful meal. The beautiful dining room reveals its heritage with exposed brick walls and Caterina’s even embraces the chipping plaster in the private dining room. On the menu you’ll find escolar crudo and traditional arancini, giving way to decadent dishes like Lobster Alison, and veal cheek agnolotti.
Tucked into the familiar TCU area neighborhood of Westcliff, Cafe Bella has been dishing up fine Italian for decades now, having opened in 2000. Not to be missed are the fried calamari and the house specialty garlic rolls. Baked pastas include lasagna, manicotti, and cannelloni along with specialties like chicken piccata and veal marsala.
The new restaurant inside The Crescent Hotel, Fort Worth is named after Fort Worth’s Italian Sister City. Emilia’s promises a trip around the Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea, guided by its executive chef, Preston Paine, who was a real contender on season 1 of Food Network’s Ciao House. The menu ranges from steamed mussels to fresh pastas like rigatoni with a stunning short rib and pancetta bolognese, or rigatoni tossed with clams, anchovy paste, and parsley.
Tim Love opened Gemelle in May of 2019. The former dive bar is now an oasis fitted with herb gardens, bocce courts, and it’s also home to his “micro resort” called Hotel Otto, a container hotel located on the vibrant grounds.
Intended to offer a quick trip to Capri in its ambiance, with pretty people sipping a Bellini or Negroni poolside, Gemelle is Love’s first true Italian offering. Deep dish, Detroit-style pizzas come in traditional Margherita with imported San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella fior di latte, and freshly snipped basil from the garden. But, they also take unexpected forms like the T’s Pie featuring a bit of rabbit rattlesnake sausage. Or share a whole roasted branzino or osso bucco with the table.
Located on the ground level of Fort Worth’s Kimpton Harper Hotel, il Modo has its own pasta room where you can take classes, and view the freshly prepared pasta drying on wooden racks.
Enjoy a bowl of Italian wedding soup or tender meatballs draped in spicy pomodoro sauce to start. The capellini pasta is dressed in arrabbiata sauce with mussels, shrimp, calamari, while the lamb shank is served with root vegetables and a parsnip puree. The sharable 42-ounce Florentine Porterhouse is a house specialty served with marrow butter.
Mancuso’s Italian Ristorante
This old-school gem has been around since 1987, and for good reason. Mancuso’s remains true to its founder Cathy Mancuso’s family recipes and hospitality that she transplanted from New York state to Fort Worth decades ago. It’s now run by her son Michael Mancuso. Rich tomato sauces and plenty of melting cheese have been transporting diners ever since.
This is where you’ll find scratch-made lasagna, classic dishes like baked ziti, and creamy carbonara, all in a simple setting with candles lit and fresh flowers on the table.
Donatella Trotti opened her tiny Nonna Tata along Magnolia Avenue in 2006, introducing the city to her authentic Italian. She opened with no restaurant experience, just the recipes of her mother and grandmother who turned simple ingredients into masterful meals. Fort Worth quickly caught on.
Fresh focaccia is served with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Mediterranean mainstays like pine nuts, olives, lemon, and garlic are big players, like in the pollo al limone with capers, or her puttanesca which tops spaghetti with capers, anchovies, and kalamata olives. Nonna Tata is both rustic and authentic.
When restaurateur Adam Jones and chef Blaine Staniford opened 61 Osteria at the base of the building known as First on 7th in 2023, it instantly became one of Fort Worth’s most stylish and delicious dining options.
The antipasti selections include house-made burrata with roasted winter squash, 12-month-aged prosciutto, hazelnuts, and Calabrian chili-infused honey, or grilled octopus. The pasta dishes range from pillowy sweet potato agnolotti to the house specialty of ricotta-stuffed serpente served with hen of the wood mushrooms and preserved lemon. And, the secondi section includes skate wing piccata, and veal tenderloin marsala.
This Italian dining destination from Marcus Paslay remains a hot table. The Waterside location has a relaxed and modern atmosphere complete with patio dining and a view into the open and active kitchen. The seasonal menu is always from scratch and you can taste the difference.
Crispy pizzas remain the ideal starter, as well as some of the best calamari in town, served with flash-fried Castelvetrano olives, and Calabrian aioli for dipping. Saffron linguine is served with rosemary, salty spec, and gulf shrimp. The eggplant parmesan can’t be beaten, and if it happens to be Sunday, ask for pasta with the Sunday sauce.
Tucked into a bungalow-style house, Piola has expanded to include a covered patio for hosting parties and lounging amid the greenery on perfect evenings. Owner Bobby Albanese serves up seasonal favorites including the watermelon salad with cherry tomatoes, feta, and light balsamic vinaigrette.
The lobster ravioli is draped in a creamy a la vodka sauce, and one of the house specialties remains the chicken involitni with ricotta and Reggiano cheeses, spinach, roasted peppers, and asparagus, resting atop creamy polenta in lemon caper artichoke sauce.
Son of Belen Hernandez (of Belenty’s Love Vegan Mexican Restaurant), Sammy Garcia took over the former Lettuce Cook space in 2023 to open his own vegetarian concept, this one Italian. While you won’t find meat on the menu, you won’t miss it at Vida Cafe.
There’s minestrone soup and crostini with vegan cheese to start. Pasta dishes include lasagna and spaghetti tossed in a bright tomato sauce or fettuccine Alfredo. And, fresh baked desserts make it a meal to remember.