7 of the Best New Italian Restaurants Making Headlines | Sapore magazine
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7 of the Best New Italian Restaurants Making Headlines

August 22, 2019

Best of the best

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Nina & Rafi
Best of the best

Even though these Italian restaurants only recently opened their doors, they are catching the attention of diners across the country. Making their way onto prestigious lists and getting buzz from local publications, these new establishments—like Atlanta's Nina & Rafi pictured above—are paving the way as the next generation of Italian brands.

From handmade pasta to pizza perfection, here are some of the nation's best new Italian restaurants.

Misi in Brooklyn, New York

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Misi
Misi in Brooklyn, New York

When Misi opened in late 2018, the highly anticipated concept from James Beard award winner chef Missy Robbins had a lot to live up to. Its sister restaurant Lilia debuted in 2016 and was so highly received it landed Robbins a James Beard award and Eater’s Chef of the Year award

The new concept puts the pasta making process front and center. Guests can watch as fresh noodles of all shapes and flavors are made in a 350-square-foot glassed-in pasta room. The room also has a window to the street so people can take a peek as they’re walking by. 

At Lilia, the pasta became an unexpected hit, but there wasn’t the room to produce the large quantities customers were demanding, Robbins’ told Eater. While designing Misi, Robbins decided to put the pasta production front and center. 

“It’s been very rogue the way that we’ve had to dry pasta all over the restaurant [at Lilia],” she told Eater. “So, when we decided to do this restaurant and knew it was going to be pasta-focused, it seemed like a very natural idea to have an isolated room for it.”

Guests can find everything from spinach and mascarpone filled tortelli and linguine to rigatoni and fettuccine on the Misi’s menu

Fox and the Knife in Boston, Massachusetts

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Fox and The Knife
Fox and the Knife in Boston, Massachusetts

Chef Karen Akunowicz, a former "Top Chef" contestant and a 2018 James Beard Award winner, opened Fox & the Knife last February. As her first solo venture, the restaurant is a tribute to her love of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. The South Boston restaurant features specialty dishes that are near and dear to Akunowicz’s heart. After spending a year studying pasta making in Modena, Italy, Akunowicz continues to make regional favorites by hand. One of the best selling menu items is the tigelle, the Italian play on an english muffin. Akunowicz handmakes seven at a time using a tigelle iron she brought back from Italy. Fox and the Knife was included as one of the Best New Restaurants in the country on Food & Wine’s inaugural list as well as Eater’s ‘16 Best New Restaurants in America’ List.  

Le Messe in Seattle, Washington

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La Messe
Le Messe in Seattle, Washington

Using the fresh ingredients of the Pacific Northwest, chef Brian Clevener has crafted some of the finest Italian dishes in Seattle. Le Messe's menu blends Italian classics with Clevener’s passion for seafood. Some of the standout dishes include squid ink spaghetti, fried squash blossoms, and oysters topped with a splash of prosecco. 

10 Corso Como in New York City

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10 Corso Como NYC
10 Corso Como in New York City

The Milan-based concept made its American debut last fall. The popular restaurant and boutique mixes fashion, furniture, cocktails, and authentic Italian dishes. Unlike other classic Italian restaurants, 10 Corso Como has a modern feel with its bold decor. Chef Jordan Frosolone leads the culinary team at the restaurant. The seasonal menu is constantly evolving as dishes are created using local produce, high quality seafood and meat, along with imported ingredients from Italy.

Gianna in New Orleans, Louisiana

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Gianna
Gianna in New Orleans, Louisiana

Gianna fuses rustic Italian with the flavors of New Orleans. New Orleans chef Donald Link and chef Rebecca Wilcomb partnered up to open the new restaurant in New Orleans Warehouse District. Gianna’s menu features house made pasta, house-cured salami, and seasonal dishes made with locally grown produce and Gulf seafood. The Italian restaurant also includes a unique dining experience if guests want to a meal full of surprises. The “Feed Me” option allows guests to experience a four-course meal with dishes that are handpicked by Wilcomb herself. 

Cortina in Seattle, Washington

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Cortina Seattle Facebook
Cortina in Seattle, Washington

Situated in a contemporary space in downtown Seattle, Cortina provides the downtown business crowd with all of the Italian classics. From lunch to happy hour and dinner, guests can choose from an array of pasta, pizza, steak, and seafood dishes. Cortina, which opened in spring 2018, landed Seattle-based restaurateur Ethan Stowell on the James Beard Awards list as a semifinalist in the Outstanding Restaurateur category in 2019.

Nina & Rafi in Atlanta, Georgia

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Nina & Rafi
Nina & Rafi in Atlanta, Georgia

In Atlanta, Anthony Spina is known as the inventor of O4W Pizza’s Grandma Pie, which is topped with red sauce, house-made mozzarella, salty pecorino, and basil and then baked in a square pan that creates a crust thick crackly crust. In his latest venture with restaurateur Billy Streck, Spina made the bold decision to leave his signature pizza off of the menu. While many were surprised by the decision, the rest of the menu has many other pizza options for guests to choose from. 

Situated on Atlanta’s Beltline Eastside Trail, Nina and Rafi is a tribute to Streck’s and Spina’s grandmothers—Nina and Rafi—and their upbringings in New Jersey and New York. The menu features Italian-American comfort food, including pizza, Italian snacks to start, salads, and Italian specialties—lasagna, chicken parmesan, and eggplant parmesan.