First of all, Gildshire has nothing against New York City. In fact, we love the Big Apple! We love the Boroughs for their unique personalities. We adore the very idea of Times Square on New Year’s Eve, and we cherish the taste of a pretzel with mustard served hot from a sidewalk pushcart. Gildshire cares enough to ponder important questions about New York City. There are no eggs and no cream in an egg cream. What’s up with that? That said, New Yorkers are well-served when it comes to Italian eateries. According to a national aggregator of such things, there are 1,278 Italian restaurants in New York City. Argue amongst yourselves about which one is the best, folks. Our task today is to venture outside of New York to find the best Italian food in all the land. Surely there are superb Italian restaurants outside of New York? Aren’t there?
Yes, siree, ma’am. (I think I just made that up.) These are the best Italian restaurants all across this great country. Is there one within a day’s drive of your house? We think so. In no particular order, because choosing the best would have required pants with a bigger waist, we present the best Italian food in America (not in New York City).
Osteria Langhe, 2824, West Armitage, Chicago, Illinois.
Osteria Langhe (Pictured above) is an intimate neighborhood eatery that combines the best in Italian fare with the flavors and personality of Chicago. How do they do that? With an ear to the speech patterns of the city it calls home and an eye on fresh ingredients from Italy.
Our favorite dish: Vitello Tonnato. It’s thin slices of poached beef, with creamy citrus and tuna aioli.
Nostrana, 1401 SE Morrison St, Ste. 101, Portland, Oregon.
Just as in the case of Osteria Langhe, Nostrana serves superb Italian cuisine without ever forgetting its Stumptown (that’s a nickname the locals have for Portland) surroundings. Authentic Italian, with a Portland flair.
Our favorite dish: Hand-tossed pesto-based pizza topped with fresh and local Dungeness crab.
La Ciccia, 291 30th St. San Franicisco, California.
Just east of Billy Goat Hill in the Noe Valley find this intimate dinner house with the line out the door. Don’t let the line run you off, because this place is worth it and then some. This is one of the smallest restaurants on our list, but let’s call it “intimate” and enjoy our meal.
Our favorite dish: Gamberoisi Arrustiusu, which is oven roasted prawns in a basil oil with parsley.
Hog and Hominy, 707 W Brookhaven Circle, Memphis, Tennessee.
Someone, somewhere, is yelling “Yee-Haw” right now in an Italian accent. They’re having dinner at this down-home establishment that has never seen a patron wearing a necktie. You’ve never had collard greens in an Italian entree’? You can tonight unless you opt for our favorite dish: That would be the short rib served with Meyer lemon, Calabrian chili, cabbage, and fennel.
Giulia, 1682 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, Mssachusetts.
For a hundred years, Boston’s North End was the only answer in the city when the question was “Italian?” Lately, though this Cambridge establishment has built an incredibly loyal following. Near the hallowed halls of Harvard find everything from anchovy dipping sauce with Sardinian bread to inventive spaghettis.
Our favorite dish: Bucatini All’Amatriciana, which is house-cured pancetta, with onions, tomato, and pecorino.
So, there you have it. Some fine Italian cuisine, and you never set foot in New York City. Is it the best Italian food? We think these restaurants come close, and won’t it be fun proving us wrong?