The Twin Cities might not have a Little Italy, but its Italian-American restaurant landscape is still as rich as tiramisu. By no means an exhaustive list, here are some of the places — old and new — that make a mean marinara.
Amore Uptown (1601 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-823-0250, amoreuptown.com). The longtime Lake Street spot (it was Amore Victoria until 2016) has all the bells and whistles of an Italian-American stalwart: a brick archway, a Campari poster, a mural of Venice. Then there’s the rooftop, a summer delight to look forward to.
Buca di Beppo (1204 Harmon Place, Mpls., 612-288-0138, bucadibeppo.com). The family-style chain originated in Minneapolis, and the subterranean original still churns out enormous plates of garlic bread and piles of spaghetti that overflow onto the red-and-white-checkered tablecloth. The ice cream sundae in a giant martini glass is a fun finale.
Cossetta Alimentari (211 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-222-3476, cossettas.com). Four generations of one family have been feeding Italian-American favorites to St. Paul for over 100 years. Today the complex is home to a pizzeria and quick-serve counter, a market with imported products and housemade sauces, a pastry shop, and full-service restaurant Louis.
DeGidio’s (425 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-291-7105, degidios.com). The expansive West 7th institution was founded in 1933 by a bootlegger who opened a bar at the end of Prohibition. Almost 90 years later, the grandchildren of “Kid Bullets” are serving up heaping plates of pasta.
Giuseppe’s (14600 10th Av. S., Burnsville, 952-431-9955, giuseppesrestaurant.org). Chicken and sausage with pink sauce over penne is a specialty, as is the $9.95 spaghetti Bolognese lunch special. Get a bottle of the restaurant’s dipping oil to go.
Latuff’s Pizzeria (10820 Hwy. 55, Plymouth, 763-545-2914, latuffspizzeria.com). The 40-year-old Plymouth restaurant was an early pizza pioneer in the Twin Cities, yet lasagna is their pride and joy, considered a favorite by many eaters in the suburb.
Mama DeCampo’s at Monello (1115 2nd Av. S., Mpls., 612-353-6207, mamadecampos.com). Named for the not-Italian chef Mike DeCamp (that’s a drawing of his face in the logo, with curlers in his hair), this Sunday-only supper is a transformation of the modern-Italian Monello into something homier. The place dresses for the occasion, down to the straw-basket Chianti bottles used to hold candles.
Mucci’s Italian (786 Randolph Av., St. Paul, 651-330-2245; 901 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-315-4608, muccisitalian.com). Known for bringing montanara pizza (with a fried crust) to the Twin Cities, these twin Italian-American restaurants hit all the other marks on the checklist: lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, eggplant parm.
Nonna Rosa’s Ristorante Italiano (4168 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 763-537-3700, nonnarosaswinebar.com). A chef from Italy and a veteran of the Twin Cities’ Italian-American restaurant world merged their culinary histories when they opened this Robbinsdale red-sauce spot a decade ago. (They’re married, too.)
Red Sauce Rebellion (205 Water St., Excelsior, 952-234-4646, redsaucerebellion.com). The two-year-old Lake Minnetonka restaurant twists classic Italian-American dishes just so; the Rebel Pie harnesses deep-dish deliciousness, but with a biscuit crust.
Sorrento Cucina (625 Marquette Av., Mpls., 612-376-0696, sorrentocucina.com). A counter in the Northstar Center skyway lets downtown Minneapolis workers dig into big plates of pasta over lunch. Take it back to your desk or dine in, and try to stay awake the rest of the afternoon.
Yarusso Bros. (635 Payne Av., St. Paul, 651-776-4848, yarussos.com). The ancestral Yarusso, Francesco, gave St. Paul its first bocce ball alley behind the restaurant he founded in 1933. His grandchildren run the place today, still making his unique recipes for sauce and sausage.