What is the best Italian restaurant in town?
Italian food never fails if you know where to go, and when you have been traveling abroad for a while, there are many chances you and your party will need eating something familiar at some point instead of trying new foreign dishes again and again in every single meal. Yes, you can get even tired from eating delicious tapas every day! But luckily for you, everybody loves pasta and pizza, and there are some great Italian restaurants in Barcelona where to find pizzas baked in wood ovens and excellent pasta dishes that will delight your whole family, not just the kids and the picky ones.
But don’t just settle to the many al taglio pizzerias you’ll find in the Old Town to take away. Or the many cheese places along La Rambla: you deserve much better than that. So before your hungry and deep-fried food-tired stomach drags you into one of those tourist traps, plan ahead. Today we tell you where to find that awesome Italian food that will not disappoint you nor the foodies in your group.
This is our top Barcelona Italian restaurant list:
Da Greco. One of our favorite classics in Barcelona, even though some might claim their side dishes are not the best. Yet everyone agrees that it will be really difficult to decide which main course to choose: they are so mouth-watering! Risotto al parmigiano, gnocchi with tomato cheese and basil, lasagna… and some meat and fish options as well, but what it’s really a must there are their pasta dishes. I am a total fan of their tortellini with white truffle, Gorgonzola cheese and parmigiano regiano. But some other times I crave their ravioli with cep mushrooms and cheese… You’ll also love the venue: this Barcelona Italian restaurant looks almost like a movie set: rococo decoration, huge statues, bronze busts… It feels like an Italian palace!
La Bella Napoli. Many locals will tell you this is the best Italian restaurant in town for pizza, and their pasta is beautiful too. You’ll almost think you are in Italy, invited to dinner by a capo Napolitano hiding in the restaurant kitchen. You’ll hear the waiters speak Italian to each other. So be warned: expect the chaos of Italy to go with your meal: it’s not at all a quiet and enchanting place… This local Italian restaurant is noisy and the service is just ok (avoid if you’d be offended by them being overly friendly and making too many silly jokes, specially if you are a possessive guy) – but one goes there for their food – OMG their vegetarian pizza with its charcoal broiled veggies and its thin crust baked on their wood oven! Recommended to book in advance but if you can’t, there is a take away option too.
Le Cucine Mandarrosso. What makes this restaurant so authentic is that everything inside is Italian: the food, the waiters, the chef, the decoration and a lovely selection of Italian drinks that are difficult to find in Spain such as Spritz, Crodino, cedrata… all kind of drinks plus some great Italian wines you might have never heard of. The amazing thing is that the owner Pietro Leonetti is not even trained as a chef, but he and Anna, the cook, didn’t hesitate to open a restaurant where they’d cook the way they used to cook at home: Italian food. Everything started as the dream project of a student abroad that was supported by his whole family and friends, and now 10 years later it has evolved beautifully into a more elaborated but still loving and friendly cuisine. Burrata is one of their most celebrated specialties, but make sure to leave some room for their homemade desserts, still done after the recipes of nonno Crescenzo passed over by Zi’ Mimi. Ah, their tiramisù!
Xemei. Here you will learn a life lesson: a Venetian restaurant is not any Italian restaurant. Two twin brothers from Venice opened this little and charming venue specializing in Venetian traditional food, basically fish dishes. Spaghetti with nero di sepia, sarde in saor, baccalà mantecato… (pasta in squid ink, sardines, codfish… all the Venetian way). They also have options for meat eaters, though: try their Venetian style beef liver, quite popular in their region. A secret: some famous FC Barcelona soccer players come often here incognito (allora, it can’t be a bad place, can it?).
Il commendatore. If you are traveling with young ones, some of the previous recommendations might not be too kid-friendly (except for La Bella Napoli, which is fine). So here you have another option off the beaten path that is always a success with children. Since its foundation in 1947 its been one of the top Italian restaurants in Barcelona for families: the whole restaurant is decorated as an Italian little village with its painted windows, terraces with plants, checkered tablecloths… even a well and a real-size doll of an Italian man (the “commendatore” – as in Italian having a Commendatore belly means having a big belly). They offer the typical Italian dishes you’d expect at an Italian place: pasta, pizza and a nice range of fish and meat dishes. Your kids will love it. If it’s full, try La Mamma, another restaurant of the same style nearby, owned by the same people.
AND BONUS! Planning a romantic dinner? This is our favorite Barcelona Italian restaurant for a special date:
Il Giardinetto. Picture that: delicate Italian food, live piano, welcoming atmosphere… the perfect setting for a romantic dinner! This venue that recreates a giardinetto (little garden) was even awarded the FAD prize of interior design. It’s a temple dedicated to handmade pasta, boiled separately each time it’s ordered. Classic but at the same time modern and friendly, that started out as the meeting point of the Barcelona gauche divine in the 1970’s and continues to be a secret spot for the local high society.
So what about you? Head to the comments below and tells us: do you know any other Italian restaurants in Barcelona worth trying?