Best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee, you ask? Well, look no further. With “Italian” being one of the most beloved and popular types of cuisine in this city, there are more than enough delicious spots to choose from. But which ones are the best? It seems as if every Milwaukeean has their own favorite place to get fresh pizza or pasta — just like mom and pop used to serve — making this list especially difficult to compile. But still, as we tasted our way through a lot of cheesy, garlicky goodness, clear frontrunners emerged, leaving us with the very best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee. Read on to see our top recommendations for which pappardelle to pick or ravioli to relish when you’re craving amazing homemade Italian food.
The best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee? Look no further.
10. Glorioso’s Italian Market
Best Italian on a budget, right here! Glorioso’s Italian Market is a rather glorious little place to do all of your authentic Italian grocery shopping or to grab a hot meal from the deli, where menu items are typically $10 or less, but taste like a million bucks. Munch on an Italian grilled cheese (fontinella, fresh mozzarella, provolone, and sun-dried tomato pesto), as you peruse for the perfect pasta to take home and make for dinner. Feel like lingering? They also have a seating area — great for a quick bite or to get a little work done while mowing down on a fig and prosciutto flatbread (shaved prosciutto, dried figs, spinach, fresh goat cheese, and balsamic glaze). Glorioso’s also hosts different types of private events, gatherings, and cooking classes: Cucina (kitchen), Eventi (events) and Scuola (school). It’s conveniently located in the center of the hotspot that is Brady Street.
A classic Third Ward charmer, Onesto is a great place to enjoy high-end flavors in a casual atmosphere. Onesto, meaning “honest” in Italian, is honestly one of the best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee and gets bonus points for also being one of the cutest eateries you’ll come across if you take a stroll down Broadway. In warmer months, their charming patio is set out, giant windows are open, and feel-good music is playing — reminiscent of a true European bistro. Try the Wild Mushroom Ragu (gnocchi), one of the many handmade pastas that are served here. This dish is covered in a rich and silky sauce that complements the mushrooms better than we can even begin to tell you in words.
8. Egg & Flour Pasta Bar
Egg & Flour is included on our list of the best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee for good reason! Each day, aside from their core menu, this innovative Italian hub whips up a different “pasta-of-the-day” special that you’ll find posted to their Facebook page. Switching it up constantly makes it impossible to get complacent with the same ol’ go-to dish! When you visit Egg & Flour, expect seasonal-inspired dishes, like the pasta pictured above made with paccheri, tomato cream, whipped feta cheese, roasted kale, and parmesan. Egg & Flour is conveniently located at the Crossroads Collective food hall, a public market of sorts that hosts eight owner/operators who serve strictly from-scratch menus.
Two words: pasta flights! What could be more enjoyable than trying multiple types of pasta in one sitting at one of the best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee? We can’t think of anything, especially if you’re an indecisive foodie. Pick two, three, four, or go ahead and try them all, including the piccante, duck carbonara, or pesto options (all pictured above). But pasta flights are not where the Italian deliciousness stops. Located in Milwaukee’s Brady Street neighborhood, Dorsia has a menu filled with other incredible offerings and they’re even open for brunch! A very trendy interior makes this spot a great choice for a casual bite OR more of a celebratory experience.
6. Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993
One of the most well-known and best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee, Ristorante Bartolotta dal 1993, is nestled in the quaint Wauwatosa Village and has been serving up authentic Italian cuisine since the 90s as the flagship Bartolotta Restaurant. Each dish at Ristorante Bartolotta is crafted and served with care by their well-trained team and diners will feel doted upon throughout their dining experience here. Definitely one of the more high-end options on our list, Ristorante Bartolotta makes an excellent choice for a special occasion or date night. A dish we love, pictured above, is the Mozzarella di Bufala from their antipasti menu (baked imported Bufala Mozzarella D.O.P, green Nocellara olives, pomini tomatoes, garlic, and fresh oregano). You will also hear whispers of their amazing Pappardelle al Ragu d’Anatra all over the city (hand-crafted wide Tuscan ribbon pasta with slow-braised duck ragu and Grana Padano) and you should absolutely order it.
An Italian-lover does not have to travel far beyond the UWM campus to find one of the best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee. Pop into SALA for a traditionally Sicilian dining experience. Pictured above, off the pasta menu, is their Sugo (angel hair pasta with their family’s tomato basil sauce) and it is TO DIE FOR. You can go wrong with one of their many amazing pizzas either – the Angelina is a Female Foodie favorite, made up of spinach, gorgonzola, prosciutto, walnut, and garlic olive oil.
4. Santino’s Little Italy
A Bay View (almost hidden) gem, Santino’s never fails to amaze with their traditional wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas. That means Caputo 00 flour, Grande mozzarella, and San Marzano tomatoes, for the win. As you may know, the true test for any pizza joint is how well they cook up a classic Margherita pizza, and we’re here to tell you that Santino’s Margherita absolutely passes the test. Along with already-created menu options, diners can also choose to create their own pizza. The top pizza pictured above is one we concocted, made with Santino’s white sauce, chicken, and mushrooms. A truly divine creation! Into people-watching? You might find yourself entertained by a bocce ball game on nearby courts that can be seen from Santino’s patio.
3. Tre Rivali
Grapes on pizza? Who would have thought? Tre Rivali, that’s who! Right beneath the Kimpton Journeyman hotel, you’ll find this Third Ward stand-out. Tre Rivali’s kitchen serves a number of homemade pastas and wood-fired pizzas all day long and the restaurant itself is a sight for sore eyes — every last detail impeccable, down to the interestingly tiled floors. Pictured here is their Crispy Pork Belly Pizza, made with grapes, brie, and rosemary. Delicious. Tre Rivali may serve dishes at a higher price point than many of the other restaurants on our list, but it is totally worth every cent. Their breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus keep it high on the list of the best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee!
2. Tenuta’s Italian Restaurant
If you’re asking around for the best Italian restaurants in Milwaukee, Tenuta’s will inevitably come up. They have been in operation for over 10 years and are a tried-and-true favorite of locals. Tucked away in Bay View, they pride themselves on a menu that is simple, tasty, and authentic. The funghi is a remarkable dish (mushroom ravioli, sun-dried tomato, and marsala cream sauce). Thoughtfully designed, with flavors that intermingle on the tongue as if they were meant to be. In our experience, reservations are necessary unless you fancy a spot at the bar, of course.
In East Towne Tosa sits a relatively new addition to Milwaukee’s Italian scene, but one that serves a menu so delicious, it would be impossible to top. Welcome to the best Italian restaurant in Milwaukee: Ca’Lucchenzo. What we really appreciate about this spot is that their menu changes seasonally to incorporate what is fresh and delicious at certain times of the year. It depends on when you’re visiting, of course, but we tried their Tagliatelle Verde al Ragù Bianco (spinach ribbon pasta, white veal ragù, parmigiano-reggiano), Malloreddus Sardo (Sardinian gnocchi, lamb ragu, bitter greens, anchovy breadcrumbs, pecorino), and Pappardelle ai Funghi Selvatici (Tuscan wide ribbon pasta, sautéed foraged mushrooms, and parmigiano-reggiano) and couldn’t have been more pleased. However, any dish you try at Ca’Lucchenzo is sure to impress. Diners can enjoy their Italian meal in a variety of seating areas, including along their interesting glassed-in pasta making area (definitely the spot to take if it’s available) and watch dinner come to life!