8 Favorite Authentic Italian Restaurants in Naples, Florida
As second-generation Italians whose grandparents both emigrated to America from the small hilltop towns around Naples, Italy (and one from Siracusa, Sicily) 100 years ago, the irony of having finally settled in Naples, Florida after years of moving around the country is not lost on us. This fact alone doesn’t remotely qualify us to present you with a list of the authentic Italian restaurants Naples Florida has to offer. Being second-generation is a pedigree label and one that residents of Italy could honestly care less about. In their eyes, we’re simply American. Our grandparents left the Old Country for a reason and many like them (my grandmother for example) quickly ran away from their Italian heritage, trying their best to assimilate into American culture. But the pendulum continues to swing, and now we’re busy reconnecting with our Italian ancestry and discovering more of the ties that were lost.
What does qualify us on the subject of authentic Italian food — other than having been raised on a Mediterranean Diet and really good Italian peasant food — is our years of traveling and eating our way through Italy, writing about the traditional Italian foods we’ve enjoyed, and how the bounties of the land still influence the regional cuisine just as terroir makes the wine. The highly regulated DOP, DOCG, and other governmental regulations on food and wine specialties have served to provide growers and makers with a built-in authenticity seal. Add to that the Italian’s cultural affinity for adhering to seasonality, and following the trail of food and wine production to its source becomes a little easier.
Naples, Florida is one of America’s top foodie destinations, so you can imagine how excited we get when we find good restaurants in Naples (and we’re always looking) that bill themselves as Italian restaurants, and actually are! You won’t find restaurants listed here who offer a few Italy-inspired items on an otherwise something-for-everyone menu. Or places whose only resemblance to Italian are the menu items written in Italian. The restaurants here are some of the best restaurants in Naples, Florida, not just Italian restaurants. And they’re using fresh and traditional ingredients, cooking techniques, and presentations. Even if some are adding a little twist here and there, they never stray far from their Italian heart and soul. So the next time you’re visiting Naples, Florida — or for those lucky enough to call it home — be sure and check out our favorites.
Osteria Tulia and Bar Tulia
Osteria Tulia and its sister eatery next door, Bar Tulia, serves classic rustic Italian food. Both places continue to garner raves reviews and we think they’re well deserved. They continue to live up to the hype, again and again. Every item we’ve eaten here reminds us of what we love most about good Italian food. Fresh ingredients, prepared well. Like their homemade ricotta (that’s not always on the menu) or the equally simple Bucatini Cacio e Pepe with sheep cheese & cracked pepper. The more casual Bar Tulia next door is just as good, though a bit more lively, and with an emphasis on well-crafted cocktails. 466 and 462 5th Ave S, Naples, FL
Bice occupies a quieter spot on glitzy 5th Avenue South and their Italian food is distinct and upscale. Their menu offers traditional and authentic ingredients with modern presentations. One of their signature dishes — the classic Braised Veal Shank Ossobuco — is hearty but no less beautiful. It’s off-the-charts fantastic. 300 5th Ave S, Naples, FL
Caffe della Amore
While the decor here may be a bit heavy and old school, the food continues to satisfy our cravings for consistently good Italian food. This is one restaurant in Naples who serves Wild Boar (alla Cacciatora) in a traditional way, and they serve it over soft polenta. Reason enough to enjoy this Naples Italian restaurant. Insanely good! 1400 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples, FL
There’s something so casually comfortable about Barbatella — though they call themselves ‘fine dining’, they clearly do both well. Their food transports you to Italy and gets you remembering that little trattoria in Bologna, the food market in Florence, or the Michelin meal in Sorrento. The food is creative and delicious, including the pizza which — while not authentically Neapolitan — is equally amazing with the freshness and combination of ingredients. The casual atmosphere on 3rd Street South is cozy too! 1290 Third Street South, Naples, FL
The food here is self-described “rustic, contemporary Italian” which means it’s traditional and tasty Italian, but also artfully presented. It’s our favorite special occasion places (as in, some of their prices are as impressive as their prime 3rd Street South address), but the food is also a cut above. We love their Balsamic Glazed Short Ribs (the accompanying ragout of smoked tomatoes and Sicilian onions are as yummy as the ribs themselves) and wood-fired pizzas. The atmosphere is relaxed and lends itself well to indulging in an extra cocktail or glass of wine. Depending on your budget, you may enjoy it here occasionally or often, but either way it’s truly a must for Italian cuisine. 1177 3rd St S, Naples, FL
Eating at Panevino is like pulling up a chair in your Italian grandmother’s kitchen — warm and homey with the mouth-watering smells of her cooking coming from the kitchen. You’ll find a lot of delicious things on the menu but their homemade pasta, veal and chicken dishes really stand out. Even the wine list is surprising. How often do you get to enjoy Vernaccia wine outside San Gimignano? 8853 North Tamiami Trail, Naples, FL (Publix Shopping Center), Naples, FL
OK, so we’ll forgive Pete for calling himself Parmesan and not Parmigiano-Reggiano (it’s a bit wordy) but the food here is worth a visit. The Cavatelli and Broccoli first caught my attention 4 years ago and we’ve been going back often ever since. The service is friendly too and the atmosphere homey in a Brooklyn kind of way. It’s become a favorite, but now that Tony Bennett visited a few months ago, we may have to call ahead for reservations in the off-season! 7935 Airport-Pulling Rd, Naples, FL
The pizza at La Trattoria is the closest I’ve come to my own Pizza Love Story in Naples, Italy — the way true Neapolitan pizza is made, with a pillowy wood-charred crust and doughy, slightly-undercooked center. Everything else on the menu is tasty and authentically prepared too, but sometimes it all comes down to the pizza! 878 5th Ave S, Naples, FL
WHERE TO STAY IN NAPLES, FLORIDA
Residence Inn by Marriott - A great choice that's close to the beach and central to everything you want to visit in Naples. Find out rates and further details.
Park Short Resort, Naples - We recently discovered Park Shore Resort in the central Park Shore area of Naples, with its gorgeous Asian-inspired setting and just 3 minutes from Venetian Bay with great shops, dining, and beaches. You can bike to the beach without having to cross the highway (Rte. 41). Kids will love the nice pool and spotting turtles in the lagoon. A great value! Check rates and details.
If you're looking for lots of charm for the money, check out The Lemon Tree Inn. Between the Olde Naples charm, the retro atmosphere, renovated rooms, and manicured grounds and pool, it's a good value with a great location. Check rates and more details.
The Inn at Pelican Bay is a great choice with quick 5 minute access to the beach in one direction and shopping & dining at Mercato in the other. Check availability and details.
On the Beach:
For a perfect beach vacation, you can't go wrong with these top five: the Edgewater Beach Hotel, the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, the Naples Grande, LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, and The Ritz Carlton, Naples for direct beach access, excellent on-site restaurants and amenities, and top notch customer service. The Ritz Carlton, Naples also tops the luxury list for their perfect location on the beach as well as superior customer service for you and your kids.
Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club - For the ultimate in family fun, it's hard to beat the Naples Beach Hotel, one of the most established hotels in town. Located right on the beach, there's plenty to do and explore on a family vacation or romantic getaway. Check rates and details here.
The Naples Grande Beach Resort is known for it's great location near Clam Pass, and its endless array of activities for the family. You'll never want for things to do or to keep the kids busy while you relax. Check out current rates and more details here.
The Inn on Fifth always gets high praise. It's got a prime downtown location and good luxury value. It's also steps to great dining, shopping, and beaches, and hard to beat their rooftop swimming pool and signature Concierge services. Find out more including rates here.