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Best Italian Restaurants In The Twin Cities

November 7, 2010 5:52 PM

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Bar La Grassa

credit: CBS

La dolce vita. It’s an Italian phrase meaning “the sweet life”. And what could be sweeter than a night out in an Italian restaurant? 

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

5000 Penn Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 925-9202
Directory | Website

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

credit: CBS

Bar La Grassa

800 North Washington Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 333-3837
Directory | Website

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

360 Saint Peter Street
St Paul, MN 55102-1512
(651) 223-7000
Directory | Website

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

credit: al Vento Restaurant

Al Vento Restaurant

5001 34th Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 724-3009
Directory | Website

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

credit: CBS

Cossetta’s Italian Market

211 7th Street West
Saint Paul, MN 55102
(651) 222-3476
Directory | Website

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!

La Grolla

452 Selby Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 221-1061
Directory | Website

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?

Zelo

831 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402-2506
(612) 333-7000
Directory | Website

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.

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