Your Cincinnati Italian Restaurant Roundup

If you’re looking for that perfect plate of pasta, these restaurants are some of the best spots to try.
(From left) Breadcrumbs finish the lobster ravioli at Mama’s on Main; focaccia with whipped ricotta, olive oil, and black pepper; tagliarini with mushroom ragu from Mama’s on Main.

Photograph by HATSUE

Italian food is one of the most beloved cuisines on earth, so it’s no surprise that restaurants pop up all over the place. With so many options to choose from, how is anyone supposed to find the best spots? Fear not, we scoured the city to help. Here are some of our favorite Italian restaurants.

Mama’s on Main

This Covington favorite brings the classic Italian flavors of New York to MainStrasse. Mama’s on Main’s menu features a variety of piccata and parmigiana dishes as well as three handmade pastas: tagliarini with mushroom ragu, ricotta gnocchi with pesto, and lobster-stuffed ravioli with marsala cream sauce. Don’t forget to order a side of focaccia—baked daily and served with whipped ricotta—and enjoy your meal on Mama’s new rooftop patio. If you can’t wait until dinner to grab a bite, try the Mama’s Mornings menu, which serves pastries and espresso every weekend until 1 p.m. 621 Main St., Covington, (859) 360-6051

The tagliarini pasta with mushroom ragu at Mama’s on Main features cremini mushrooms, rosemary, black pepper, and Parmesan.

Photograph by HATSUE

Biagio’s Bistro

Since 1999, Chef/Owner Biagio Lamassa has been serving up casual Italian cuisine on Ludlow Avenue, and his bistro is a favorite of Clifton locals and college students alike. Pasta is prepared in front of patrons on open burners, and there’s far less marinara to be found here than in other Italian joints. Most dishes have a satisfyingly creamy and garlicky sauce. If you want strong tomato flavor, order the amazing tomato basil soup (and make sure you have some bread left to dip in it). After your meal, try one of the many beautiful and delicious desserts from the pastry case—like the tiramisu that’s soaked in espresso. 308 Ludlow Ave., Clifton, (513) 861-4777

Ferrari’s Little Italy

Aptly named, this restaurant creates its own Italian enclave in Madeira, complete with a restaurant, bakery, and deli. There’s a lot to love, but the pasta is the draw. Mama Bassano’s lasagna (beef, ricotta, mozzarella, Romano cheese, and marinara) has the savory warmth of a homecooked meal, but don’t overlook the tortellini Florentine (spinach and cheese tortellini, sauteed spinach, artichoke hearts, and tomato cream sauce). Ask to dine on the patio for an even more magical experience—complete with waterfall. 7677 Goff Terrace, Madeira, (513) 272-2220


Sotto means “under” in Italian, which is a fitting name for this sleek downtown restaurant, located beneath Boca. David Falk owns both restaurants and applies his fine dining mastery to the inventive, sophisticated menu at Sotto. Pastas are made in-house and aren’t to be missed, especially the justifiably famous short rib cappellacci. But simple, exquisitely prepared entrées like breaded pork loin with caper and lemon, and the wood-fired branzino, get just as much love as the pasta. And the humming, low-lit space is easily the most romantic in the city. 118 E. Sixth St., downtown, (513) 977-6886

Pepp & Dolores

Nothing you order at OTR mainstay Pepp & Dolores will be anything short of delicious. The approachable upscale vibe is perfect for a date or a nice meal out with friends, and the friendly staff will give you great recommendations on everything from the expertly crafted wine list to the exact number of appetizers and sides that should go with your dish. The pasta is cooked to al-dente perfection with as much Parmesan on top as you please. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the dishes; even the seemingly basic rigatoni with vodka sauce packs a perfect spicy punch that keeps you coming back for more. 1501 Vine St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 419-1820

Via Vite’s bruschetta “Stracciatella e Pomodoro” with smashed burrata, tomato, prosciutto, and basil.

Photograph by HATSUE

Via Vite

While Nicola’s feels like a Tuscan oasis in the heart of the city, Via Vite is front and center in Fountain Square. Huge windows bring the downtown action into the massive, two-story space, though the restaurant itself provides plenty of action, too. As soon as you walk in, you’ll see cooks rolling and cutting pasta and you’ll hear the din and sizzle of the open kitchen, which fires out everything from cacio e pepe to braised lamb shank over polenta, all prepared with zest and flair. 520 Vine St., downtown, (513) 721-8483

Lobster Tortelloni al Nero is served with fresh cold water lobster, ricotta, lemon, and hazelnut gremolata from Via Vite.

A Tavola Bar + Trattoria

Chewing on A Tavola’s burrata caprese (tomato medley, balsamic vinegar, salt, basil, extra virgin olive oil, pesto, ciabatta) appetizer gives guests ample time to decide on a main course. The cacio e pepe (tonnarelli, pecorino romano, Parmesan, and black pepper) is always a display of quality ingredients, and it’s one of A Tavola’s standout dishes. 7022 Miami Ave., Madeira, (513) 272-0192


Al-Posto brings sophisticated Italian cooking to Hyde Park Square. The menu skews southern Italian, reflecting Co-Owner Giovanni Ranieri’s roots. That’s why there is plenty of great seafood on the menu, like the not-to-be-missed grilled branzino and the spicy garlic shrimp diavolo. If you’re more into turf than surf, Al-Posto’s scratch-made pasta will work just fine. Wash it all down with a glass or bottle from Co-Owner/Wine Director Austin Heidt’s excellent wine list. 2710 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, (513) 321-2710


Perched on a hill with floor to ceiling windows, Primavista fills your eyes with breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and your stomach with dishes from all of Italy’s regions. You’ll love the bruschetta topped with goat cheese, honey, and rosemary oil and the Primavista favorite of steamed mussels with white wine butter sauce. Take your pick from the entrées, like cioppino or shrimp and gnocchi. With all of the sauces and oils made in-house, you can’t go wrong. 810 Matson Place, East Price Hill. (513) 251-6467

Rodi Italian

Rodi is new to the Queen City dining scene (it opened in 2021), but it’s slowly making a name for itself. Warm up with the Drunken Goat (goat cheese, pomodoro sauce, housemade focaccia), and indulge in some lasagna or spaghetti al pomodoro, but save space for the dolce menu and the restaurant’s celebration of Italian coffee culture. You can savor an affogato (vanilla gelato and espresso) or take home a slice of tiramisu after lingering over a latte with friends. 115 Karl Brown Way, Loveland, (513) 774-7634


Part of the Cristian Pietoso’s family of restaurants, Forno boasts high quality, authentic Italian ingredients. Born and raised in Italy, the Florence native frequently visits home to find inspiration for Forno’s dishes. The Bolognese and lasagna verdi are two fan favorites, and you can try them for a bargain on Bolo Tuesdays and Lasagna Verdi Thursdays. 3514 Erie Ave., Hyde Park, (513) 818-8720; 9415 Montgomery Rd., Montgomery, (513) 231-5555

Gnocchi Genovese (with basil, heavy cream, and spinach) from Rosie’s Italian Kitchen.

Photograph by HATSUE

Rosie’s Italian Kitchen

From the giant pop art mural on the wall, it’s clear that Rosie’s likes to do things a little differently and have a little more fun. You can go traditional and indulge in handmade pastas like the gnocchi Genovese with the creamiest and most buttery pesto sauce this side of the Atlantic. Or you could be more adventurous and try the fried lasagna bites filled with three different kinds of cheese with a side of mushrooms carbonara. Don’t forget to order from the extensive list of spritz cocktails like the insanely refreshing Limoncello Spritz, perfect for a summer’s day. 300 E. Seventh St., downtown, (513) 381-1243

Bucatini carbonara (with bacon, English peas, egg, and Parmesan) at Rosie’s Italian Kitchen.



Nicola’s, which opened in 1996, still feels as fresh as a ripe San Marzano. Cristian Pietoso took over from his father in 2021 and continues the restaurant’s tradition of excellence. Service is impeccable, while the food is seasonal and refined. You’ll find classic Italian dishes here—like the beloved eggplant parmigiana—alongside more novel dishes, like grilled octopus with pickled giardiniera. And the wine list is arguably the best in the city for Italian varietals. 1420 Sycamore St., Pendleton, (513) 721-6200


With a menu focusing on Northern Italian fare, including traditional antipasti, housemade pastas with from-scratch sauces, and a raw bar with fresh seafood flown in daily, you’ll be sure to find your new favorite Italian meal at Subito. Pair your plate with an Italian wine or cocktail (negronis, bellinis, and the exclusive Lytle Park limoncello are favorites on the menu). Dine inside and catch a glimpse of the chefs preparing your dish or take it outdoors on the patio fitted with fireplaces. 311 Pike St., downtown, (513) 621-4500

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