If you’ve ever been to Italy, you know there’s so much more to Italian eating than garlic, spaghetti and lasagna. Fresh, vibrant and diverse are three words that describe Italian food. There are so many regional cuisines in Italy, the phrase “Italian restaurant” could mean literally hundreds of different things.
What we have in the Twin Cities certainly matches this description. Here are a few of the restaurants that we are lucky enough to call our own and celebrate la dolce vita with!
Broders Pasta Bar
Call this one a personal favorite. My dad turned me on to Broders Pasta Bar several years ago and until then, I didn’t know good Italian food. They don’t take reservations, the wait can be over an hour and it’s worth every second. Look for dishes with “housemade pasta” and you’ll be eating the freshest Italian in town. Delicious!
Bar La Grassa
A critically raved about restaurant in the North Loop neighborhood near downtown Minneapolis. It’s worth the raving. A terrific place to go with a group and share a bunch of small plates. If it sounds, weird, sorry, but you have to try the bruschetta with soft eggs and lobster. It’s unbelievable. Also, one of the best late night stops. Eat at the bar and enjoy!
Pazzaluna has become a favorite stop for people heading to Xcel for Wild games and for good reason. The pizza, cooked in a wood-burning oven, is very good. Also recommended for their terrific seafood selection.
Al Vento Restaurant
Another “neighborhood” place like Broders, al Vento is in south Minneapolis near the Nokomis area. Fresh pasta, well prepared and very reasonably priced is what al Vento is all about. Visit them on a Tuesday “Date Night” for a 3 course dinner for $20. You can’t beat that!
Cossetta’s Italian Market
If you’re in St. Paul and looking for a quick, delicious lunch, there’s no better place than Cossetta’s. Part Italian grocery, part restaurant and fully delicious. Their pizza is the best and their Italian sandwiches are off the charts. Cossetta’s is classic Italian!
On Selby in St. Paul is a little neighborhood Italian restaurant called La Grolla. I had never heard of it until our General Manager at WCCO Radio took us their following an event we did across the street at the St. Paul Curling Club. Boy am I glad he did. La Grolla isn’t a hardcore Italian restaurant. It’s just a cozy place with good, Italian influenced food. A great place to get a bottle of wine and enjoy a night out. What could be more Italian than that?
Another place that may venture past the shores of Italy but does enough to make it a great Italian dining experience. Zelo is a popular downtown Minneapolis lunch spot and I’ll admit to spending several long lunches there. I’ve had a chicken and fennel soup there that rivals any soup I’ve ever had. And try the seafood. Pesto Sea Bass is fantastic. You may find a little Asian influence in their Italian cooking but it’s done right. Check it out.
-Lindsey Peterson is the Assistant Program Director for WCCO Radio.