Finding the best food off the beaten path can be tricky, especially while traveling abroad. To help you enjoy some of the best food & restaurants in Italy, we’ve asked our fellow travelers to recommend their favorite secret haunts & guilty pleasures.
Check out this mouth-watering list of the top 15 off-the-beaten-path restaurants in Italy. Each of these Italian restaurants is located just outside of a major Italian city … allowing hungry travelers with a taste for something special to sneak away and enjoy authentic cuisine that most people never get to experience.
Jump to A Delicious Italy Restaurant Recommendation:
Irene Levine’s Pick
Katie Goldstein’s Pick
James Treacher’s Pick
Zeneba Bowers’s Pick
Kathy Bechtel’s Pick
|Osteria Di Passignano
James Ullrich’s Pick
|Il Doge’ Restaurant
|La Grotta Montepulciano
Pamela Haack’s Pick
|Masseria Il Frantoio
Sienna Charles’s Pick
Irina Vishnevskaya’s Pick
|Pepe in Grani
Peter Farina’s Pick
|Donna Sofia Ristorante
Scott Stewart’s Pick
Alex Schnee’s Pick
|Castello Di Montegufoni
Jemille Williams’s Pick
Restaurant: Amerigo 1934
“Amerigo 1934 is a trattoria known for its truffle-centric menus, the informal eatery has had a Michelin star since 1998 (one of 27 awarded to restaurants in the region in 2015).”
Location: Savigno, 40 miles southwest of Bologna, Italy
Contributor: Irene S. Levine author of More Time to Travel a blog that provides advice, information and inspiration for travelers who have reached their midlife milestone birthday.
Restaurant: Spiechile Resort
“My top pick for off the beaten path Italian restaurant in Italy is Spenichile. It’s in Vicenza, which is about an hour outside of Venice. You have to drive up a winding road through a mountain to reach it. It’s Michelin-starred chef, Corrado Fasolato and his wife’s restaurant. It’s truly some of the most imaginative and unique food you’ll ever taste. It’s a dining adventure. You can also spend the night at the B&B.”
Location: Vicenza, 35+ miles west of Venice, Italy
Contributor: Katie Goldstein is an award-winning travel blogger as her edgy alter-ego on, Travelingpanties.com . She is also the New York Travel Correspondent for Forbes, an accomplished travel video host for sites like About.com, and a regular contributor for U.S. News and World Report, The Huffington Post, and Fodor’s.
“If you find yourself headed towards Castel Gandolfo, the charming lakeside town and Papal retreat only 20 km southeast of Rome city centre, you must visit Pagnanelli Restaurant, located on the serene shore of the stunning Lago Albano, right next to the Pope’s summer villa. Here you will be treated to some of the most amazing Italian food in the region as well as extraordinary views of the lake and the rolling countryside that surround it.”
Location: Castel Gandolfo, 12 miles southeast of Rome, Italy
Contributor: James Treacher writes at Touriocity, a free Tour Concierge service for anyone looking to take a private tour. Customers connect with our experts for travel tips and to book your fully bespoke tour of some of the world’s greatest cities.
Restaurant: Locanda Pietracupa
“The food is stellar, the presentation is gorgeous, and the menu changes with the season. Pietracupa prepares traditional Tuscan cuisine, usually with a twist. There are very traditional dishes, like the Pappardelle with wild boar ragu (don’t miss this dish; the pappardelle is impossibly thin and delicate). Then there are a variety of dishes that are based on Tuscan traditional cuisine but have been elevated to a higher level, like the lasagnette nest with an artichoke cream filling.”
Location: San Danato in Poggio, Italy
Contributor: Zeneba Bowers and Matt Walker, owners of LittleRoadsEurope.com, are the authors of two foodie guidebooks to back-roads Italy. They create customized, off-the-beaten-track driving itineraries for clients wanting to have authentic, immersive, affordable, and memorable travel experiences.
Restaurant: Pulierin Enotavola, Vignoli Contra Soarda Winery
“This family run winery is a perennial favorite on our tours. The restaurant features fantastic food from their own farm, amazing wines in a lovely location. Enjoy a tour of the winery led by a family member, before your meal.”
Location: Just outside Bassano del Grappa, Italy
Contributor: Kathy Bechtel, Culinary Director and Owner of Italia Outdoors Food and Wine. Kathy is a trained chef, cooking instructor, and food & wine blogger. Together with her partner, Vernon McClure, they create uniquely personalized active (bike, ski, hike, walk) tours in Italy.
Restaurant: Osteria Di Passignano
“Osteria Di Passignano is a Michelin starred restaurant set in gorgeous countryside near a medieval abbey. It has a cooking school and extensive winery as well.”
Location: Tuscan countryside outside of Florence, Italy
Contributor: James Ullrich is a professional freelance travel writer and tour guide having led many tours in Italy.
Restaurant: L’Ape 50
“Ape 50 specializes in paninis, salads, and local pastas and everything was to die for. The interior is very nice, relaxed, and filled with locals going about their day. I loved that we were able to watch our sandwiches and salads being prepared from fresh ingredients. Truly not to be missed, and is only one hour outside of Rome in the little town of Tivoli.”
Location: Trivoli, Italy
Website: Visit on Facebook
Contributor: Natasha is one-half of the website The World Pursuit. She has traveled to over 40 countries and 6 continents, and is currently touring the world with her partner.
Restaurant: “Il Doge” Restaurant at the Hotel Cenobio dei Dogi
“The history of the Hotel Cenobio dei Dogi goes back to an aristocratic family from 1565 and as such the stunning villa sets into the cliff with a private park of pines and exotic flowers.The restaurant itself offers a breathtaking view of Camogli bay and the colorful houses that line it. It is the perfect terrace for a summer sunset, spritz and traditional fusion food with a heavy focus on the freshest fish from the ocean a stones throw away. I couldn’t fault the cuisine or service and left feeling like I had been transported back to days long past. Be sure to start with the homemade breads and oils.”
Location: Camogli, Liguria, Italy
Contributor: Daniel is a full time traveler who spends his time hunting down unique hotels and restaurants that make you go wow, finding the more unusual and off beat destinations and getting to know the local life. www.danflyingsolo.com
Restaurant: La Grotta Montepulciano
“Tucked inside a 15th century building along outskirts of Montepulciano, near the Renaissance church of San Biagio, family run La Grotta combines elegance with a friendly atmosphere. The house speciality is meat dishes with hand-selected cuts provided by a local butcher – whose name is featured on the menu! Dishes are paired with vintages of the town’s excellent Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.”
Location: Montepulciano, Italy
Contributor: Pamela Haack is creator and host of Off The Beaten Strada a boutique-style, small group tours in less-traveled areas of Italy. Her specialty is seeking out hidden treasures, and hard-to-find sites in Tuscany and Umbria.
Restaurant: Masseria Il Frantoio
“Coolest restaurant experience I’ve had in Italy has been in the Puglia region. The place is called Masseria Il Frantoio. It’s basically a farmhouse situated on an ancient olive grove, run by a husband and wife, where you can overnight if you like. The real treasure is the restaurant though. The wife cooks up rustic Italian classics, similar to the southern style Italian cooking I grew up eating (as well as most Italian-Americans) with a gourmet twist. Pair that with the sacred Pugliese wine, Nero di Troia, and you will be in heaven.”
Location: Ostuni BR, Italy
Contributor: Sienna Charles designs effortless, exclusive experiences for the world’s most discerning clientele. For us, travel is the ultimate in luxury, we want you to get lost in the beauty of a voyage, to experience how the world opens up when you know just where to go…
Restaurant: La Purza
“La Puraza, on the main road running between Rimini and San Marino (looks like a fast food, off the side of the highway type restaurant) is actually my favorite place in Italy. So much so, that when in Italy I will often go out of my way to add a stop there… and then I’ll make sure to stay for lunch and dinner.”
La Puraza has the best seafood I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of seafood all over the world) and their pasta is absolutely out of this world. All the flavors and textures are always exactly on point, and the staff is incredibly wonderful. Stop here on any random Tuesday during lunchtime and see a packed house- that’s saying something.”
Location: Outside of Rimini, Italy
Contributor: Irina Vishnevskaya, is the founder of allé, a custom travel planning company- we create unique, off the beaten path experiences for clients all over the world.
Restaurant: Pepe in Grani
“Pepe in Grani is located in a beautifully restored palazzo from the 1700s found deep within Caiazzo’s historic center. You know it’s good when locals from Naples — the undisputed “Pizza Capital” of Italy / no strangers to fantastic pizza — take the drive out to Caiazzo at Pepe in Grani. In my opinion it is by far the best pizzeria in Italy and worth the drive.”
Location: Caiazzo, Caserta
Contributor: Peter Farina, owner of italyMONDO. italyMondo specialties in premium Dual Citizenship, Family Tree and Heritage Travel services for those with Italian roots.
Restaurant: Donna Sofia Ristorante
“This restaurant is a shrine to the actress Sofia Loren. Her photos are the dominating theme of this truly unique dining experience. With great food and service, it’s also worth visiting for the crazy ride to get there.”
Location: Just outside Sorrento, Italy
Contributor: Scott Stewart works in the luxury travel and leisure business for STORY Land & Sea, based in Denver, Colorado. His work allows him to travel on occasion, and Scott enjoys serving as a contributor to Trip Advisor.
Restaurant: Osteria Miranda
“Osteria Miranda takes everything you love about classic Italy (delicious pasta, endless wine, friendly service) and adds an element of class and refinement. A conglomeration of comfort and style, it’s as authentically Tuscan as you are going to get.”
Location: Lucca, Italy
Contributor: Alex Schnee of The Way Faring Voyager is an avid coffee-drinker/travelholic. Alex has been through 24 countries throughout the world, all without spilling her cappuccino.
Restaurant: Castello Di Montegufoni
“This is a huge castle with a cozy restaurant in the basement. It’s a very old school the wife cooks and the husband serves. There’s no menu. The best part of this restaurant is that you dine with your fellow travelers and trade stories of your adventures.”
Location: Tuscany, Italy
Contributor: Jemille Williams is a Top Contributor on Trip Advisor and has a travel column in the Atlanta InTown Publication.
Getting To & From the Restaurants in Italy on This List
Feeling inspired yet? Auto Europe can get you to and from any of these fabulous restaurants with a fantastic deal on an Italy car rental. We guarantee the lowest rates in Italy and would be happy to help you find the perfect car to enhance your trip!