Nashville is the nation’s country-music capital, home to the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry. Country is a theme that permeates all walks of life, from music to cuisine.
You might associate country-style food with southern comfort and Tennessee’s famous barbecue, and you’d be right. However, there are plenty of other rustic country meals with old-world origins.
After one too many rib dinners, I decided to explore Nashville’s old country cuisines, namely Italian food! I found a wonderful list of Trattorias, cafes, bistros, and pizzerias to satisfy my Italian cravings.
Read on to explore my list of the best Italian restaurants in Nashville.
411 51st Ave N, Nashville, TN 37209
A longstanding family-owned Italian deli and eatery, Coco’s Italian Market and Restaurant retains the same old-school Italian American allure that you’d find in New York’s Little Italy.
Located in Richland, a block from Richland Park, Coco’s Italian Market and Restaurant offers authentic traditional Italian fare using the Cinelli family recipes and imported Italian ingredients.
You can stop in for a family dinner and buy a few specialty items from the deli counter on your way out. They make their own cheese, sauce, bread, and pasta.
I’ve never had a more delicious Zuppa Di Cozze, with the plumpest mussels steamed in a white wine sauce.
1808 Hayes St, Nashville, TN 37203
Valentino’s Ristorante is an elegant Italian restaurant in a charming, converted townhome in Midtown. Each room has a tasteful and cozy vibe, from the brick-walled bar and lounge to the romantic dining room centered around a wood fireplace.
They serve traditional multicourse Italian dinners serenaded by live music. Valentino’s Ristorante has a lovely selection of fine wines to pair with an authentic Italian meal.
I started with Prosciutto e Melon, prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe with a drizzle of local honey and extra-virgin olive oil.
It was hard to choose between a pasta entrée and a decadent Italian steak, but I couldn’t resist the Lobster Ravioli in a tarragon brandy cream sauce.
1920 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
Receiving OpenTable and TripAdvisor’s Diner’s Choice Awards for over a decade, Amerigo Italian Restaurant enjoys over three decades as a Music Row institution.
Amerigo Italian Restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere with wood floors and finishing with old-school Italian poster art lining the walls.
They make all their sauces, dough, and pasta from scratch. They offer brunch, lunch, and dinner at Amerigo, with upscale multi-course formats, including antipasti, soups, pasta, pizza, and main entrees.
I started with an appetizer of fried calamari, followed by a delicious main course of Scallops Veneto with white bean and arugula succotash, Italian bacon, and basil walnut pesto.
1200 Villa Pl #206, Nashville, TN 37212
From Italian owners and trained chefs Francesco Angelillo and Marco Seda, Bella Napoli Pizzeria is an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria in a refined rustic-chic space with an outdoor patio in Edgehill.
Bella Napoli Pizzeria has an imported wood-burning oven to bake their wood-fired pizzas using imported Italian ingredients and adhering to strict pizzaiolo guidelines.
They offer lunch and dinner with a curated list of Italian wines and spirits along with salad, antipasti, and fresh pasta. Each pizza is just enough for one person, with a perfectly bubbly charred crust and a delicate center.
I had the Capricciosa with salame, imported baked ham, marinated artichokes, kalamata olives, mushrooms, and fresh mozzarella.
4427 Murphy Rd, Nashville, TN 37209
Nonna is the Italian word for “grandmother,” and Caffe Nonna is founder and Chef Dan Maggipinto’s culinary shrine to his grandmother.
Located in a homey, country tavern-like space in Silvan Park, Cafee Nonna serves the most comforting Italian dishes from recipes he inherited from his grandmother back in the old country.
Caffe Nonna’s menu features a curated list of wine, beer, and craft cocktails to accompany a menu of unique family recipes.
They have tried-and-true favorites like lasagna Bolognese and mussels fra Diavolo, but they also have Nonna’s versions of the classics.
Take, for example, Lasagna Nonna, featuring butternut squash, spinach, ricotta, herbs, and a marinara cream sauce.
1222 4th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37208
City House is a James Beard Award-winning contemporary Italian restaurant, cocktail, and bourbon bar in a sleek and lively space in the heart of Germantown.
Their creativity in the kitchen has born the most imaginative New American takes on Italian dishes. They offer two different menus, including a Sunday Supper menu that changes weekly.
City House is one of the most sought-after eateries in Nashville, so a reservation is crucial. Their menus are multicourse masterpieces with plates that are colorful, whimsical, and exciting to eat.
They combine Southern Comfort food with Italian comfort food. I started in the south with an appetizer of pan-fried okra with a corn meal crust and pickle mayo.
1120 McGavock St, Nashville, TN 37203
Voted Best Wine Bar and Date Night restaurant in Nashville by Nashville Guru and Nashville Lifestyle, Moto is a modern Italian enoteca and wine bar in The Gulch.
Moto’s stunning mid-century modern design features Persian rugs, vintage-chic furniture, and a beautifully manicured vine-covered outdoor patio. The food and wine list are as fashionable and impeccable as the surroundings.
They offer dinner with a multicourse menu that uses the freshest and highest quality Italian cheese, meat, fish, and produce. I started with the Cider Mussels drizzled with Calabrian chile with kale and grilled focaccia.
Their classic pasta dishes are perfect in their simplicity. I had the Pappardelle Bolognese with prime beef, Berkshire pork, and ricotta Salata.
909 20th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37212
Owner and Executive chef Giovanni Pinato moved his decades-old fine dining Italian bistro from Midtown Manhattan to Midtown Nashville in 2008.
Giovanni Ristorante is the height of elegance, located inside a multi-story house modeled after a Tuscan Villa, with a grand spiral staircase, timber wine cellar, and a Venetian imported plaster.
Giovani Ristorante exudes old New York glamour mixed with authentic old-world elegance with a stunning menu presented in a multicourse work of culinary art.
If ever there was a place to get the whole Branzino, it’s Giovanni Ristorante. I also recommend the utterly decadent house-made potato gnocchi in a four-cheese sauce.
144 Rep. John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203
Another NYC transplant, Trattoria Il Mulino opened a Nashville location in 2015 in a massive 4,000-square-foot open dining space in downtown with an unpretentious and lively vibe.
Executive Chef Michelle Mazza and Konstantin Rubis man the kitchen, serving an adapted menu with classic dishes from the New York menu along with novel adaptations inspired by Nashville’s ingredients and cuisine.
To honor Music City, Trattoria Il Mulino features live music to serenade authentic scratch-made Italian fare. Their wine list is a Wine Spectator Award-winner with an equally impressive craft cocktail list.
Everything on the menu is superb, using the same recipes as the original New York restaurant. I had the arugula pesto-cream capellini with black pepper and pistachio to start.
The highlight of my meal was the half rack of lamb with a Dijon rub and chianti demi-glace.
701 Craighead St, Berry Hill, TN 37204
Meaning “eat” in Italian, Mangia is a Berry Hill neighborhood favorite for family-style Italian fare in a cozy and charming dining room.
Founder Nick Pellegrino uses his extensive experience as a New York caterer and his Italian family recipes to create an authentic and comforting menu meant to be shared as a family.
Mangia has a nice wine and spirits collection along with a full espresso bar to accompany their delicious Italian desserts.
Dinner and lunch menus feature antipasti, Neapolitan pizza, and scratch-made pasta in heaping amounts.
My favorite scratch-made dish was their incredible Mangia Mac, with shell pasta tossed in a cheese sauce made from fontina, mozzarella, parmesan, and Pecorino Romano cheeses.
5026 Centennial Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209
From seasoned restauranteur couple and Chicago natives Tony and Caroline Galzin, Nicky’s Coal Fired is their second restaurant and a tribute to Tony’s Italian American upbringing.
Located in Richland, a quick walk from the shores of the Cumberland River, Nicky’s Coal Fired is a casual, counter-service eatery, specializing in coal-fired pizza, pasta, and antipasti.
I ordered the focaccia in conjunction with a plate of enormous meatballs with Sugo and Grana Padano.
8 City Blvd, Nashville, TN 37209
Located in a hip, industrial-chic space in West Park End just west of Centennial Park, Pastaria is an artisanal Italian trattoria with a modern and creative vibe.
True to its name, Pastaria makes all its pasta from scratch, along with wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, antipasti, and creative Italian-inspired salads.
They use all organic ingredients for their pasta, sauces, and salads. I started with an incredible appetizer of crispy duck leg with over butter lettuce with chili crunch, pickled saskatoon berries, herbs, and mustard vinaigrette.
That could’ve been my entire meal, but I had to try their house-made pasta! I ordered the Tagliatelle with bone marrow, bottarga, chantarelles, nori, and lemon.
3826 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 37209
PennePazze is an authentic Italian eatery inside Sylvan Height’s L&L Food Market. The interior of PennePazze is a modern twist on Italian rustic, with old stone walls lined with glass cases of dried pasta that form a mosaic.
As a food market locale, PennePazze has a high-energy open kitchen and a casual and friendly vibe. They serve fresh, house-made pasta in heaping and beautifully presented portions in black bowls to accentuate the colorful sauces and toppings.
They also make personal-sized Neapolitan-style pizzas that almost look like flatbreads as they come in oval to asymmetrical circle shapes.
I am a sucker for pesto, so I went for the Nonna Paula pasta dish, with a really interesting fat, lasagna noodle topped with four-cheese pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, confit garlic, and olive oil.
403 4th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37201
Yolan is a fine-dining Italian restaurant owned by Michelin-starred Chef Tony Mantuano. Located in a stunning modern space inside the Joseph Hotel in Downtown Nashville across from the Music City Center, Yolan is the height of culinary creativity.
Yolan is the ideal restaurant for a celebratory meal or a romantic dinner. The food and service are impeccable.
Chef Mantuano offers various prix-fixe chef’s tasting menus, including a vegetarian tasting menu, each offering five to eight courses of seasonally inspired plates.
Clearly, this is the way to go, but there is an a la carte menu. My favorite dish at Yolan was the Pesce Spada Caponata, with swordfish, charred eggplant, fermented tomato, capers, and olives.
3106 West End Ave, Nashville, TN 37203
Maggiano’s Little Italy is a beloved and longstanding chain of Italian American family restaurants offering an exaggerated and fun experience of an old-school Little Italy restaurant.
Maggiano’s has its Nashville location in a characteristically giant multi-room space in West Park End with red and white checkered tables and old family photographs lining the walls.
Everything at Maggiano’s comes in giant family-sized portions to share, from salads to pasta to pizza to steaks. They don’t slack on quality, either!
I recommend starting with some of their delicious garlic bread with white truffle ricotta butter. They also have my favorite Shrimp Scampi in the world!