Let’s face it: if we’re talking Italian food, there’s really nothing like the real thing. Fortunately, there are several spots in Virginia that are pretty darn close. So close that you might forget where you’re dining. An escape to some of these incredible Italian restaurants in Virginia might feel like a European vacation, and will be much friendlier on your wallet. If you’re looking to get your fix of Italian food, here are some places you’ll want to check out. Buon appetito!
1. Graffiato (Richmond)
Graffiato has a location in DC, but you would be missing out to wave this off as any sort of a chain restaurant. Graffiato creates exquisitely delicious dishes with a modern approach to traditional Italian cuisine. The atmosphere is vibrant and hip, much like the area of Richmond where it is located. One of the most popular smaller plates is the crispy brussel sprouts. This tasty pasta dish is the Bucatini Carbonara, served with peas, black pepper, and a fresh farm egg.
2. Tavola Restaurant (Charlottesville)
Charlottesville's Tavola Restaurant is the place to go for rustic Italian fare. The restaurant is located in a small neighborhood and is dedicated to using fresh and locally-sourced ingredients on their menu. The building itself is intimate and lively, and due to limited seating does not take reservations. If you're looking for something quick, you might try out the cicchetti and craft cocktail bar, which serves smaller antipasti and specialty drinks. The larger menu includes hardier dishes, such as this house-made pappardelle.
3. Salvatore's Pizzeria (Virginia Beach)
Salvatore's Pizzeria may have somewhat of a "strip mall pizza place" vibe, but locals will recommend this as one of the best Italian restaurants in the area. For starters, they've got incredible garlic knots and bruschetta. The pizza menu is extensive, with anything your heart desires, including some other Italian classics. Sticking to the classic Margherita pizza won't disappoint. For those in a rush, there's also a separate to-go ordering area.
4. Osteria da Nino (Arlington)
Osteria da Nino is one of those places that is consistently rated well for the big three: menu, atmosphere, and service. The selection is catered towards a variety of occasions, whether you are looking for something light and easy or a larger meal. The wine list is extensive and pairs beautifully with their enticing entrees, such as this colorful pasta dish photographed above. Other popular dishes include the squid ink pasta as well as the fritto misto.
5. Edo's Squid (Richmond)
Edo's Squid has a casual and unsuspecting atmosphere, but the Italian food here is taken very seriously. The trademark of Edo's is the incorporation of delicious seafood into the menu. Portions are generous and are best enjoyed family style. You'll want to start with the fried calimari, as it's one of the most popular menu items. For the entree, you might consider the sausage, ricotta, and broccoli penne as pictured above.
6. Maurizio's (Williamsburg)
This family-friendly and family-owned spot in Williamsburg can be found in the middle of a shopping center. While that may not sound like the formula for mouth-watering Italian food, it is certainly the case for Maurizio's. The atmosphere inside is charming and romantic, making this the perfect spot for a weekend dinner date. The entrees, such as homemade lasagna and lobster ravioli, are some of the best in the area, although it's the garlic knots that are often described as perfect. And they just so happen to be complimentary.
7. Isabella's (Lynchburg)
Isabella's is a neighborhood restaurant that has taken the time to form special relationships with nearby farms and farmers. On the menu, that translates into one important word: local. Some of central Virginia's best ingredients are tossed into delicious Italian dishes for a truly memorable experience. The price range is also quite reasonable; for $8, you can enjoy the stuffed portobello complete with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, fontina, spinach, and artichokes.
8. Ceritano's (Blacksburg)
Ceritano's Ristorante is Blackburg's answer to authentic Italian cuisine. Right on the outskirts of the Virginia Tech campus, this restaurant has welcomed guests from all over. Ceritano's is known for their incredible hand made pastas, but the goat cheese arugula pizza is one of the most popular items on the menu.
9. Bella Luna Wood Fired Pizza (Harrisonburg)
Bella Luna is a local favorite for several reasons. Not only are the portions very shareable, but the food itself is spectacular. As you might have guessed from its name, the restaurant uses a wood-burning stove for all of the house-made pies. These pizzas are made with local ingredients for an even fuller flavor. The open kitchen sets a cozy mood in the historic building where the restaurant is located.
10. Razzo (Norfolk)
Razzo is a memorable dining experience not just for the impressive menu, but also for the ocean front view. This spot is a favorite among locals for the fun and casual atmosphere. The portions encourage lots of sharing, and this would be a great spot to take a group of friends to enjoy a night out together. The menu will surely satisfy any Italian craving, especially with the delicious penne a la vodka or stuffed eggplant.
Have you been to any of these places? If not, which Italian restaurants would you add to the list? We’d love to hear from you!