Restaurant Listings: Italian
Hint: To see restaurants in this section in a particular area of town, click on the category name indicating "Hoover," "Downtown," "South," etc., below each listing.
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5510 U.S. 280 East (Greystone Center)
Dinner only, reservations required. The Birmingham News' Fletcher Harvey called his dining experience "unexpectedly memorable." Small, intimate, cozy atmosphere, candlelight and whine tablecloth. Harvey gave high marks to homemade Italian meatballs, mussels, veal scallopine alla limone, shrimp in a creamy gorgonzola sauce, tiramisu and cannoli.
2031 Cahaba Road (English Village, Mountain Brook)
This family-run, full-service casual restaurant, owned by Salvatore Bambinelli, specializes in veal, seafood, steaks, pizza and pasta. In the former home of Cafe Ciao and the adjoining Ciao Restaurant. (Bambinelli also owns two Salvatore's Pizza & Pasta restaurants -- one off U.S. 31 in Hoover and another off U.S. 280 in Inverness. Before that, he also owned Salvatore's in Vestavia Hills.)
6801 Cahaba Valley Rd., Suite 106 (Hwy. 119), Hoover (across from Meadowbrook Post Office in Inverness/Greystone area)
Organic black angus beef, veal, seafood and classic Tuscan Italian dishes; extensive wine selection and weekly dessert specials. A few that sound mouth-watering include Oysters Bellini (baked oysters stuffed with shallot and smoked pancetta served with bechamel sauce and spinach), puff pastry-encrusted crab; Lasagna Involini (lasagna tower with tomato sauce topped with buffalo mozzarella and stuffed with Italian sausage and cheese). Chef Benard Tamburello owns the well-regarded Bernie's On Main in Columbiana. In 2004 he and his wife, Sophia, purchased La Dolce Vita in Hoover. Sophia's parents were born and raised in Benevento Italy. Chef Benard is a second generation Italian and has a background in Sicilian food.
2240 Highland Ave. South (Southside)
Dinner only, Mon.-Sat. Valet Parking. Full bar. Reservations encouraged. Highlands Bar & Grill may be award-winning Frank Stitt's first restaurant, but Bottega is one of the hottest fine-dining places in town. Mediterranean and Italian-inspired cooking, with fresh seafood, meat and game all cooked "with the soul-satisfying essences of Tuscany, Andalusia and Sicily," as they say on their web site. You'll find dishes such as homemade ravioli with braised pork, bruschetta with crawfish, Parmesan soufflé, lobster with torchio pasta, tagliatelle pasta with venison bolognese.
Click here for Bhamdining.com review of Bottega Restaurant
For a more casual version, including sidewalk dining and lunch, try Bottega Café, next door in the same building, where you might have baked feta with focaccia, farm eggs stuffed with tapenade, wonderful wood-fired pizzas, Italian cobb salad, pastas such as Bottega Cafe's version of mac and cheese (baked penne with three cheeses), chicken scaloppine or salmon with polenta and olive-radicchio relish.
Click here for Bhamdining.com review of Bottega Cafe
Here's a fun blog entry about a Memphis family's trip to Bottega Cafe
721 Broadway, Homewood (near Green Springs end of Broadway)
Lunch (Wed-Fri) and dinner, full bar, reservations necessary (call at least a week and a half in advance for weekend reservations). The best Italian in Birmingham, hands-down. Cozy neighborhood Italian bistro offering sandwiches, salads, pasta and more. Dishes include fried calamari, eggless Caesar salad, pasta e fagioli, pork tenderloin with polenta, tuna steak with risotto, and zuppa di pesce over linguini. Don't miss the pistachio-crusted fried oysters appetizer. Lunch menu features sandwiches such as smoked turkey, grilled apples and Gorgonzola; grilled chicken with sauteed spinach and mushrooms; and grilled portobello mushrooms with roasted peppers.
Click here for Bhamdining.com review
April 2009 review on al.com
21 Weatherly Club Dr., Alabaster
This restaurant, near the entrance to Weatherly in the Pelham/Alabaster area, has been getting a lot of good buzz on the local Internet boards for authentic Italian food, with good pizza and pasta, in a nice casual atmosphere. Reports are the parking lot is packed practically every night and Friday nights are SRO. Joe's traces its origins to Joe's Italian Restaurant, which was established in 1981 in Gilroy, Calif., by Giuseppe and Elvira Bertolone, who emigrated from Italy in 1977. Joe's quickly became a beloved local icon. In 2007, they sold the restaurant and retired in Alabama, where the family opened a new restaurant. A July 2009 City Scene review gave high marks to tomato-basil soup, lasagna bianca (Italian sausage and turnips between tender layers of fresh pasta covered in a silky white sauce), papardelle al Gamberi (with shrimp and pesto-cream sauce), pizza, lobster ravioli. "Great food at a reasonable price in a sometimes boisterous, always kid-friendly, definitely fun atmosphere."
1851 Montgomery Highway (Hwy. 31), Hoover
Lunch and dinner. People love this tiny restaurant tucked away in a strip mall on Highway 31 south of the Galleria for its cozy charm. Reservations definitely recommended.
2520 Rocky Ridge, Vestavia
Lunch and dinner, full bar, patio, live music nightly. Homemade Italian dishes "just like what you get at our house," says owner Tony Falleta. Specialties include veal and chicken marsala, baked eggplant stuffed with ricotta. Live music ranges from accordion to piano to blues and jazz, with customer sing-alongs not uncommon. In our opinion, the atmosphere is better than the food (sugary sweet red sauce, overdone veal), with the exception of the rolls, which are fantastic. But a lot of people love the place.
1830 29th Ave. South, Homewood (SoHo Square)
A Birmingham classic that recently moved from Green Springs to SoHo. Dine on Italian-American classics like ravioli and lasagna, plus pizza, sandwiches. Don't miss the baked oysters. If you like garlic, try the baked shells.
2698 Pelham Parkway
Casual, family-friendly Italian-American dining (order at the register, they'll bring it to your table) from Alabama football's Eli Gold and Walter Caron. Lunch and dinner; beer and wine served. A September 2009 City Scene review praised an Italian sausage appetizer, Veggie Delight pizza, Eggplant Parmigiana, cheese ravioli with spinach mushroom Alfredo sauce.