Special Report

Top Old-School Italian Restaurants in America

Source: Photo by Jill K. via Yelp

Bruna’s Ristorante
> Location: Chicago, Illinois

Bruna Cani opened her restaurant — today the third-oldest Italian place in the city — in 1933, selling it to fellow Tuscan Luciano Silvestri in 1981. Chicagoans come here for classic-style fried calamari, sausage and peppers, linguine with red or white clam sauce, veal scaloppine, and the restaurant’s famous tiramisù.

Source: Photo by yasser b. via Yelp

Caffè Sport
> Location: San Francisco, California

Sicilian-born Antonio La Tona set up this North Beach favorite as a social club and sandwich shop in 1969, converting it in the mid-1970s to a full-scale restaurant. The interior is unique, every inch seemingly covered with La Tona’s colorful paintings and wood carvings and with memorabilia contributed by fans around the world. The menu, on the other hand, is not unique (insalata caprese, carpaccio, penne with pesto, cioppino in both white and red variations), but does offer a few surprises, like Dungeness-crab-stuffed squid-ink ravioli and mango panna cotta.

Source: Photo by Caroline C. via Yelp

Carlo’s Cucina Italiana
> Location: Allston, Massachusetts

Carlo Barone and his family have been serving Italian-American fare in the Boston neighborhood of Allston — some miles east of the city’s best-known Italian quarter, the North End — since the 1970s, with the Boston Globe citing it as one of the city’s ten most underrated restaurants. Caesar salad, penne with chicken and broccoli, veal marsala, and a Carlo’s creation of fried shrimp in Grand Marnier sauce are among the items crowding the tables here.

Source: Photo by Nathan H. via Yelp

Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill
> Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Charlie Gitto’s, opened in 1981 in the St. Louis Italian quarter (“The Hill”), has a connection to the city’s most famous contribution to the Italian-American menu: fried ravioli. Back in 1947, when a restaurant called Angelo’s was on the site, a chef accidentally dropped ravioli into hot oil instead of boiling water — and a local classic was born. Served with tomato sauce, it leads off the menu here. Among the many other choices are rigatoni with sausage, ricotta-stuffed manicotti, four brick-oven pizzas, and a bone-in veal milanese.

Source: Photo by Thanasi P. via Yelp

Christo’s Ristorante
> Location: Phoenix, Arizona

It may have been opened, in 1987, by a Greek — Christo Panagiotakopoulos — and have been under the ownership of another one — Michael Zistatsis — since 2017, but the fare here (apart from a Greek salad and the occasional appearance of feta cheese) is strictly old-line Italian. That means, shrimp scampi, grilled sausage and peppers, stuffed manicotti, linguine with clams, cioppino, veal pizzaiola, and the like.

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