These 3 Restaurants Just Might Have The Most Authentic Italian Food In All Of Tennessee
When most people think of iconic Tennessean food what comes to mind is likely images of Memphis-style barbecue or Nashville hot chicken. While these are both excellent examples of The Volunteer State’s culinary offerings, Tennessee has much more to offer than barbecued and fried meat. Hidden within the state’s major cities you’ll find several establishments serving food so authentically Italian you’ll swear you were in Rome.
1. Porta Via Ristornate e Bar
From its Florentine plaster walls to its tiled fountain and cherry-wood pergola, Porta Via Ristorante e Bar makes you feel like you’re in the Old World from the moment you step through the doorway. This West Nashville establishment, which opened its doors in 1989, offers 56 menu items, 12 rotating gelato flavors, and several Italian coffee drinks such as lattes and Americanos. Every menu item is made using recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.
While you’d get an excellent meal out of any item on Porta Via’s menu, the crowning jewel of the restaurant is its authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Porta Via Ristorante e Bar, 21 White Bridge Rd #104, Nashville, TN 37205, USA
What makes Porta Via’s pizza pies so special is that they have been certified authentic by a governing association from the birthplace of the dish, Naples. To become certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (or, "True Neapolitan Pizza Association") restaurants must pledge to only use certain ingredients (such as San Marzano tomatoes and Type 00 flour) and to only make pizzas using specified methods. Porta Via is the only pizzeria in Tennessee to be "VPN-certified," so if you want a true Neapolitan pizza, make sure to stop by! This restaurant is open for dinner and brunch. To learn more, check out
Porta Via’s website
the restaurant’s Facebook page
2. Altruda's Italian Restaurant
On the inside, Altruda’s evokes a homey feeling with its large bookcase and decor consisting of pots, pans, and old toys. This differs from the exterior - the restaurant is located in a strip mall 15 minutes from Knoxville’s downtown. Don’t let your initial impressions fool you, though - Altruda’s has been around since 1988 and gets rave reviews. They’re obviously doing something right!
The food served at Altruda’s is made using the secret recipes of Geraldine Ida Altruda, the owner’s mother, who emigrated from Italy and for whom the place is named.
Altruda's, 125 N Peters Rd, Knoxville, TN 37923, USA
Everything from Altruda’s 18-ingredient salad dressing to its sauces and bread is made fresh daily. Menu-wise, you can find several delicious meat and seafood dishes and pasta dishes like lasagne Napoletana, all served with the restaurant’s signature garlic rolls. Follow up your main course with desserts like tartufi (a frozen chocolate mousse) and cannoli alla Romana. If your mouth is starting to water, drop by Altruda’s for dinner the next time you’re in Knoxville. To view this restaurant’s menu in full and to learn more about Altruda’s, check out
this Tennessee establishment’s website
the restaurant’s page on Facebook
3. Ronnie Grisanti's
Stepping into the final restaurant on our list, Ronnie Gristani’s, you are greeted with a painting of a Tuscan village on the wall, luxurious high-backed booths, and miniature chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Judd Grisanti, the owner, grew up rolling out ravioli dough and baking garlic bread with his brothers. Today, Judd serves lunch and dinner out of this east-Memphis establishment which is located in the Regalia Shopping Center 10 minutes south of the popular Shelby Farms Park.
Many of the items at Ronnie Grisanti’s are based on recipes from “la cucina Toscana,” or Tuscan cuisine.
Ronnie Grisanti's, 6150 Poplar Ave #122, Memphis, TN 38119, USA
A sampling of the restaurant’s menu options includes meatballs, Caprese salad, and several traditional pasta dishes such as tortellini and lasagna. Ronnie Grisanti’s also offers almost 75 varieties of red, white, rosé, and sparkling wine. This restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner. Check out
Ronnie Grisanti’s website
the restaurant’s Facebook page
for more information.
Hot chicken and barbecue restaurants may get most of the attention in The Volunteer State, but if you look more closely you will find there are many more places for good eats in Tennessee, including ones where you can have an excellent, authentic Italian meal. The next time you are in Nashville, Memphis, or Knoxville be sure to stop by one of the restaurants on this list. Have you been to any of the places we covered here? Let us know about your meal in the comments.
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.