The 8 Best Italian Restaurants in Cleveland (Real, Local’s Opinion)

best italian restaurants in cleveland

Mangiamo!

Who doesn’t love Italian food? There truly is something for everyone- pizza, pasta, salad, seafood!

In case you haven’t heard, Cleveland has an amazing Italian restaurant scene. With a large Italian population dating back hundreds of years, we have no shortage of delicious, fun, and eclectic Italian spots for all east AND west siders.

Check out our list of the 8 best Italian restaurants in Cleveland!

Map of the Best Italian Restaurants in Cleveland

Best Italian Restaurant in downtown Cleveland: Luca

Luca is best known for its awesome views of the Cuyahoga river (don’t worry, it hasn’t been on fire since the 1970s!) and killer happy hour. There is something on the menu for everyone – from fresh salad to its delicious pasta and delectable secondi options. The owners are a husband and wife duo who focus on northern Italian flavors.

Check them out for Sunday Funday! Happy hour is from 5-9 p.m. on Sundays, and 5-7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  • Address: 2100 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland, Ohio 44113
  • Website: Luca

Best Italian Restaurant on the East Side: Mia Bella

mia bella

Located in the heart of Cleveland’s east-side Little Italy, you cannot go wrong with this Italian joint. Mia Bella is a family-owned restaurant that is a bit more formal and focuses on contemporary dishes with hints of Mediterranean influence. There is a large selection of wine as well as wonderful cocktails!

  • Address: 12200 Mayfield Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
  • Website: Mia Bella

Best Pasta in Cleveland: Maxi’s Bistro

maxi's best italian

Just across the street from Mia Bella, Maxi’s offers a slightly more casual, comfortable Italian dining experience. Their menu is extensive and even includes a wide selection of delicious pizza. Maxi’s is the perfect place to grab a glass of wine and antipasti with a friend or take the family for dinner after a trip to the natural history museum in University Circle!

  • Address: 12113 Mayfield Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
  • Website: Maxi’s Bistro

Best Italian Restaurant on the West Side: Molto Bene

The name’s translation says it all: very good. Molto Bene is a contemporary Italian joint located in Lakewood, Ohio. The focus is on classic dishes with a modern twist.

They also serve homemade gelato! Wine and ice cream? Win-win.

  • Address: 18401 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, Ohio 44107
  • Website: Molto Bene

Best Kept Secret: Mama Catena’s Vino & Cucina

Snuggled up in a small plaza in Cleveland’s eastern suburb, Euclid, Mama Catena’s is one of the area’s best-kept secrets. When you step inside, you are transported back to old-world Italy with a warm ambiance, extensive wine list, and family friendly menu. Owned and operated by a local family, you might even meet Mama herself!

My husband and I have spent many nights dancing and dining here.

Best Build Your Own Pasta Dish: Bar Italia

With locations on the east (Beachwood) and west (Lakewood) sides of Cleveland, Bar Italia offers Italian cuisine with an American twist. Their fresh-baked bread and a glass of wine is the perfect way to start your meal. Plus, on Wednesday’s it’s half off bottles of wine!

My friend and I meet here regularly after work at either location (depending on who wants to drive that day!). The ambiance is cozy and the food delicious.

  • Addresses: 2101 Richmond Road, Beachwood, Ohio 44122 (East) & 15625 Detroit Ave, Lakewood, Ohio 44107 (West)
  • Website: Bar Italia 

Best Pizza in Cleveland: Mama Santa’s

mama santa's

Named after the matriarch of the family, Mama Santa’s is home to the best pizza in Cleveland. There, I said it! Their pizza is absolutely unbeatable. They offer lots of variations, but a classic cheese or pepperoni will always hit the spot.

Mama’s offers a variety of other Sicilian, homemade dishes such as chicken parmesan or manicotti, as well as a delicious selection of beverages, including a tangy Sangria that is my dad’s favorite.

  • Address: 12301 Mayfield Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
  • Website: Mama Santa’s

Best New York-Style Pizza: Il Rione

Although Mama Santa’s is number one in my heart for best pizza in Cleveland, Il Rione is a close second. Located in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, this cozy joint focuses on wood-fired, specialty pizzas with a couple of delicious salads, cheese boards, wine and cocktails to pair it with.

Fair warning: get there EARLY! They do not accept reservations and wait times can be over two hours on the weekends.

  • Address: 1303 W. 65th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44102
  • Website: Il Rione

Honorable Mention: Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s Italian Festival

While the east side of Cleveland is known for their large and boisterous Little Italy, the west side has a sizable Italian population as well! Every July, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, a local Catholic Parish, throws a fun and exciting Italian festival. Like Il Rione, this festival takes place in the Detroit Shoreway area. There is live music, dozens of local vendors, plenty of delicious food, and family fun!