Italian Eateries

28 Sep 2015

After undergoing a bit of a renaissance in the last few decades, Italian food has become one of the most popular types of cuisine in America. Because seriously, what’s not to like? It's comfort food at its finest with heaping bowls of pasta, and hearty sauces. Certain places make the rest shake in their Italy-shaped boots, and we're here to acknowledge them. Without further ado, here are some of the best Italian restaurants in greater Charleston ― pizzerias, trattorias, wine bars, and the like. Capisce?


Al Di La

Looking for Italy right in your backyard? Al Di La’s authentic Italian cuisine will delight your palate and transform your taste buds into believing your countryside in the Southern European country—without even leaving Charleston. But the ingredients stem from right here in the Lowcountry, since the eatery’s focus is to include as many local items as possible. Dishes range from traditional pasta combos and fish entrees to an array of alcoholic beverages for the beer drinker to the wine novice. Need a break after a long workday? Be sure to check out the dining spot’s happy hour deals or cut straight to dessert and order one of the menu’s decadent sweet treats. Plus, each spring the restaurant prides itself in giving back to the community by donating a portion of its proceeds to charities including Charleston Walk for Autism and Surfers Healing on Folly Beach., 843.571.2321


Andolini’s Pizza 

Have a craving for large New York-style pizza? No matter where you travel in the tri-county, you’re sure to be close to at least one of the eatery’s three locations including North Charleston, West Ashley (coming soon), and Mount Pleasant. And you’ll never have to fear a day without your favorite pie toppings because the restaurant is open every day for customers to dine in or carry out. The family-led operation stands out from the variety of other pizza chains across the area because the main ingredients—crust, cheese and sauce—are handmade and stem from the hands of true Northern born-and-bred pizza lovers—Michael and Edie Rabin and David Odle. The couple also receive business assistance from Michael’s brother Dr. Neil. Andolini’s has also boasted a top spot in customers’ hearts every year for the last two decades, known for serving the best local pizza—some pies as large as 19-inches in diameter!


Bricco Bracco 

Mount Pleasant is home to two locations of this family-friendly eatery founded in December 2010 by a New Jersey couple who found themselves down South with an idea to share Italian-style dishes with their new community. It was also voted best Italian Restaurant in Mount Pleasant in 2014. Mussels, meatballs, pizza, ravioli, lasagna and cannoli are just a handful of the menu items Bricco Bracco offers. And for customers with a particular fetish for cheese, you will sure to be delighted in the restaurant’s mozzarella bar while perhaps simultaneously catching sinful fragrances from the nearby pizza grilling station. Both features of the eatery make it a unique experience for all who venture inside. And why not put your taste buds in overdrive following a hearty meal? Simply add Bricco Bracco’s housemade tiramisu as a final splurge. It’s just one of several dessert options offered, but the one that’s most celebrated at the venue.


 Cannon Green

Cannon Green offers an innovative concept—an open courtyard setting straight out of the 19th century and filled with a variety of native florals and lush greenery, where outdoor lovers hungry for Mediterranean cuisine can feast Tuesday through Saturday on a number of dishes—each with a personal twist by Executive Chef Amalia Scatena. Menu items include octopus, tuna, snapper and more, with ingredients stemming from nearly a dozen local farms including but not limited to Savannah Bee Company, St. Jude Farm and Manchester Farm. Cannon Green’s blend of modern and rustic décor—including long wooden tables for communal-style dining—make it a lively spot in historic downtown Charleston. Craving Cannon Green on a Sunday? Don’t worry, their doors are open limited hours for brunch. Specifically located in the Cannon Elliotsborough neighborhood, the eatery is also unique for its private dining experience option, which allows groups of eight to 18 to enjoy a four-course meal for $85 apiece. The private group seating area includes a balcony view overlooking the courtyard., 843.817.7311



Sugar, chocolate and anything decadently sweet can be found among the menu options at this infamous Charleston dessert and wine bar. Whether you’re taste buds are in need of a savory gourmet pastry—think rum or tiramisu cake, mini custard cups, white chocolate mousse and cannoli—a cool scoop of gelato (Italian ice cream), glass of wine or cocktail concoction, Carmella’s has it all. Not ready for a sweet splurge up front? Try one of the restaurant’s pizza or panini options first. This East Bay food lounge contains many of the operator’s family recipes, which are never off limits for customers. All menu items may be ordered anytime the location is open, which is 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. Choose also from a plethora of wine options. The eatery boasts up to 300 varieties., 843.722.5893


Carrabba’s Italian Grill

If you're not a fan of any of the select number of Italian eateries found solely in the Lowcountry, then this popular authentic chain will surely hit the spot with flavors and recipes reminiscent of Sicily. With a love for food and family, Texas relatives with Italian roots started the grill in 1986. Nearly 30 years later, there are countless locations throughout the United States, including two local spots: North Charleston and Mount Pleasant. Some of the restaurant's signature dishes have been staples like the Mezzaluna (half-moon shaped) ravioli plate, Chicken Bryan and various veal, pork and traditional pasta combinations. And nothing satisfies a quick hunger fix than the unending supply of freshly-baked bread brought at the start of every customer's meal―complete with a bend of olive oil and Italian seasonings for dipping.


Gennaro’s Italian Ristorante

Who doesn’t love a dining experience paired with live music? That’s how one of Gennaro’s owners, Michael Gennaro, a Manhattan School of Music graduate, believes is the best way to dine. Brothers whose grandparents were indigenous to Northern Italy, he and chef Robert Gennaro have been satisfying locals and tourists alike for the last 32 years with their combination of Italian recipes and jazz tunes. A seasoned trombonist, Michael also participates in the Gennaro Jazz Ensemble, a group that entertains customers every Thursday evening. The food connoisseurs provide two locations to share their cuisine throughout the Lowcountry, in Charleston and North Charleston. Most unique to Gennaro’s is its variety of veal dishes including served over sweet potato gnocchi and eggplant or sautéed in Marsala and simple Italian flavors: olive oil and garlic. Looking for a less sophisticated plate? Gennaro’s also offers chicken, pizza, pasta and salad. Michael’s wife Linda additionally assists with the business operation, revered not only for its tasty meals but also its high-class atmosphere., 843.760.9875


Joe Pasta

Come on down to King Street, one of downtown Charleston’s liveliest hangout locations and have a laugh over a homemade pasta course with the location’s frequent comedy night events. The eatery features a number of simple Italian staples and menu options for children, vegetarians and even the Sunday brunch crowd, looking for a homemade omelet or other weekend breakfast dish. Chef John Katz will not disappoint with his impressive culinary arts background, spanning multiple cities across the East Coast. Customers needing a late night drink can daily lounge at Joe Pasta until 2 a.m., while music enthusiasts can checkout live jams every Friday and Saturday night. The Italian dive also features an outdoor eating area with an incredible view of the historic Southern city. Known as the Sidewalk Café, the area creates an unforgettable ambiance with the blissful blend of food, sunlight and nearby harbor breezes., 843.965.5252


La Fontana

Need a place to eat all your Italian favorites without breaking the bank? That’s what La Fontana, located on Savannah Highway in Charleston’s West Ashley district, strives to do. With a “Five for Five” summer lunch menu the eatery offers, customers are sure to return for a bite to eat more often than on special occasions. Head chef Gary Langevin is intent on creating an authentic space for families, couples and friends to satisfy their cravings for Italian-American classics—manicotti, antipasto, spaghetti and meatballs and fettuccini alfredo, to name a few. And he’s no stranger to the restaurant scene, having made a name for himself in the Lowcountry region over the years with previous operations Bella Napoli and Cuoco Pazzo. One of Langevin’s distinctive menu items is called arancini, a crispy-fried meat and rice ball served with a side of tomato sauce., 843.556.1111



Named after the historic Italian speedway birthed in the 1920s, this King Street dining facility, with its sports-themed décor and atmosphere, is sure to race any customer straight to the Monza’s motherland in spirit. Each pizza is cooked to perfection in a 1,000-degree wood-fired stove and named in honor of a different Italian racer, from the simple “Materassi”—tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil—to the more complex “Ronnie Peterson”—oven-roasted chicken breast with artichokes, arugula pesto, ricotta, garlic and mozzarella. Not in the mood for pizza or can’t find one on the menu that suits your taste? Create your own variety from a number of toppings, or order a soup, salad, or pasta option. Each salad is unique in combination including one of the restaurant’s more unique green dishes, the wood-roasted seasonal vegetable salad—containing a local farm egg cooked sunny-side up with bread crumbs and parmigiano reggiano. Customers can wash down any meal with one of Monza’s beer, wine, cocktail or soda options., 843.720.8787


Pane e Vino

Named for two simple Italian mealtime favorites—bread and wine—Pane e Vino is a downtown Charleston trattoria most celebrated for its swanky yet traditional menu and upscale environment. Think elegant food presentations and décor including white linen table cloths, brick walls and fancy mood lighting—located both inside the main facility and lining the outside patio area. The spectacle appears to have been pulled straight out of a romance film and is the perfect spot for a date or other special dining occasion. Earlier this year, the location received a new owner and head chef—Northern Italian native Alfredo Temelini. Be sure to make a reservation at the spot, open daily for dinner. Entrees range in price from $18 to $24 and incorporate multiple combinations of vegetarian, pasta, seafood, chicken, soup and salad dishes. At specified times during the day, customers can also choose from a brunch menu filled with smoked salmon, sausage, eggs and potatoes along with classic fruity favorites, the Mimosa and Bellini., 843.853.5955


Steel City Pizza

Born in South Carolina just three years ago, this laid-back, family-friendly sports eatery is built on the idea that fellowship happens best among friends who’re enjoying good, quality pizza. Its owners boast Pittsburg (“Steel City”) roots but have branched out to a Southern state to establish their company and offer their fun-filled food philosophy with communities in North Charleston and Mount Pleasant, the sites of their two locations—each filled with televisions and sports memorabilia. The business also caters, allowing those who’d rather gather at home with family and friends the option to indulge in the same Steel City taste. Try a number of beers on tap at either location and don’t forget to save room for a zeppoli—a fried dough roll covered in sugar.

Trattoria Lucca

This Elliotsborough neighborhood restaurant has one thing other Italian eateries in the Lowcountry do not: Chef Ken Vedrinski, who’s hailed by New York Magazine as one of the country’s top pasta makers. The expert cook spends time daily in his Charleston eatery crafting a variety of noodle shapes for customers to enjoy in dishes mixed with local meat, seafood and other fresh ingredients found throughout Charleston and the surrounding region. Also owner of Coda del Pesce, one of the newest seafood restaurants on Isle of Palms, Vedrinski is also a sommelier, or wine expert, and has chosen a list of nearly 40 for restaurateurs to choose from any night of the week, except Sundays, when the location is closed. In addition to traditional Italian cuisine options, Trattoria Lucca also maintains such menu items as pork, triggerfish, ribeye, veal and duck., 843.973.3323


Vincent Chicco’s

This historically-named eatery honors the Holy City’s earliest prohibition outlaw, an Italian native who moved to the area and sold the community his alcohol despite the early laws that forbid it. He later became a councilman and business savvy leader in the Lowcountry. The essence of his era is captured in the décor and timeless nature of this establishment run by Executive Chef Aaron Lemieux, former head cook at 39 Rue de Jean. He not only runs Vincent Chicco’s but also two other local restaurants—Victor Social Club and Michael’s on the Alley—intent on keeping ingredients fresh and local, from Lowcountry farms. While the entrees may entice you, tryout an appetizer before delving into a main course. Appetizers range from Roman artichokes and traditional bruschetta, to roasted beets, marinated olives and Masami Wagyu: toast loaded with a spread of pickled peppers, capers, parmesan Tuile, sun-dried tomato aioli, dried olives and heirloom tomatoes., 843.203.3002


Wild Olive

Johns Island is home to this six-year-old green-eating establishment, not only known for handmade pasta and house-cured salumi, but also for being named the state’s first-ever environmentally friendly restaurant in 2013. Executive Chef Larson maintains extensive culinary experience straight from the boot-shaped European country itself. He also spent time in New York perfecting his culinary skills, before moving to South Carolina. Managed by Jason Parrish, a Certified Specialist of Wine—a title he earned in 2009—Wild Olive is celebrated for its staff’s commitment to recycling and composting. Not only is 85 percent of the restaurant’s waste materials re-used but also 1,000 pounds of raw material is composted weekly, according to its website. The restaurant is also known for local ingredients including Mepkin Abbey mushrooms and an array of saltwater catches—scallops, swordfish, shrimp, mussels and calamari., 843.737.4177

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