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The 10 Best Italian Restaurants In Downtown Charleston, SC Updated January 2024

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With its cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and a food scene that’s nothing short of legendary, Charleston is a place that steals your heart and tantalizes your taste buds. 

Now, if you’re anything like me, a lover of all things pasta, pizza, and prosciutto, you’re probably on the hunt for the crème de la crème of Italian restaurants in Downtown Charleston.

Let me take you on a little culinary journey where the aroma of fresh basil fills the air, and the sound of a simmering tomato sauce plays the sweetest symphony. 

Best Italian Restaurants In Downtown Charleston

Downtown Charleston is not just a hub of Southern hospitality; it’s a treasure trove of Italian eateries, each offering a unique twist on our beloved classics. 

From the rustic to the refined, the traditional to the contemporary, it’s a place where every meal feels like a celebration of flavors.

So, ready to explore the best Italian Restaurants in Downtown Charleston? 

Whether you’re a local looking to rediscover the city’s gastronomic gems or a visitor eager to dive into the culinary delights, I promise this guide will leave you craving for a taste of la dolce vita in the heart of Charleston. Buon Appetito!

My Top Three Picks of the Best Italian Restaurants In Downtown Charleston

Restaurant Top PickOur Rating
Le FarfalleCacio e Pepe Fusilli 5/5
IndacoCappelletti with short rib5/5
La Fontana Authentic Italian Restaurant SCPasta Bolognese4.5/5

The 10 Best Italian Restaurants In Downtown Charleston

Le Farfalle

15 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18432120920

To start this article, I am presenting you with a hidden gem on Beaufain Street – Le Farfalle. 

Created by the culinary duo Michael and Caitlin Toscano, this charming spot is a blend of cozy indoor vibes and delightful courtyard seating, offering a slice of Italian seaside magic right here in Charleston, SC.

Stepping into Le Farfalle, the modern twist on Italian cuisine immediately caught my attention. The dimly lit ambiance whispered tales of family gatherings, romantic date nights, and solo comfort meals over plates of perfectly cooked pasta.

It felt like every corner had a story to tell, every dish a melody of flavors waiting to be explored.

Under the expert guidance of celebrated chef Michael Toscano, Le Farfalle has become a symphony of culinary delights. 

The upscale, bright space, adorned with an elegant bar, sets the stage for a gastronomic journey – from a quick lunch of agnolotti pasta to relaxed after-dinner conversations over craft cocktails.

The adventure begins with a generous slice from the restaurant’s ginormous wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. From there, the culinary canvas is yours to paint. I was particularly enchanted by the seasonal appetizers – the veal tartare toast paired with shoestring fries and the sublime octopus carpaccio were nothing short of a flavor explosion.

chicken picatta

But the real stars of the show? The housemade pasta and the vibrant whole branzino with pine nuts, not to mention the tender fried chicken picatta

Each bite was a crescendo of iconic Italian flavors, a harmonious blend of tradition and innovation.

And let’s talk about the Cacio e Pepe Fusilli – deliciously rich and decadent, it’s a dish that sings the songs of Italian comfort food. 

Paired with the friendly and welcoming staff, it made Le Farfalle feel like a cozy, intimate haven in the heart of Charleston.

The best part? Indulging in world-class Italian cuisine at Le Farfalle won’t break the bank. It’s a place where every meal is a celebration, every flavor a testament to the love and passion infused into Italian cooking. 

So, if you find yourself in Charleston, SC, Le Farfalle is a culinary stop you won’t want to miss.

Renzo

384 Huger St #4126, Charleston, SC 29403, United States // +18432592760

This upscale neighborhood trattoria, with its wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas and a thoughtfully curated wine list, instantly became one of my favorite gastronomic haunts in the city.

Renzo is a delightful paradox – vibrantly loud yet cozily intimate. In a city where the culinary scene often leans towards the serious, Renzo dances to its own beat with a delightful irreverence and a sense of fun that’s palpable the moment you walk in. 

It’s a refreshing change of pace, a place where the joy of eating is celebrated with unabashed enthusiasm.

The pasta here is a coveted treasure, selling out swiftly for good reason. I learned quickly to make earlier reservations to ensure a pick from their full menu.

Each dish is a testament to their culinary prowess, but it’s the wood-fired pizzas that truly steal the show. 

Margherita with pepperoni

These pizzas strike a perfect balance – crusty edges giving way to soft, pillowy centers. Each bite is a harmonious blend of char and chew, a masterful display of texture and taste.

Renzo’s approach to pizza is adventurous, bold, experimenting with flavor combinations that are as unexpected as they are delightful. 

The option to “make your own” pizza is there, but take my advice and trust their expertise at least once. You won’t regret it.

The ambiance at Renzo adds to its charm – everything feels ‘just right.’ From the carefully crafted cocktails (keep an eye out for new additions!) to the consistently delectable food, they’ve nailed the fine dining experience. 

My personal recommendation? Try the Wrath of Kahan pizza, accompanied by their house-made ranch for an extra kick. And don’t miss out on the Margherita with pepperoni – it’s a revelation!

A visit here is more than a meal – it’s an experience, a celebration of what makes Italian cuisine so endlessly appealing.

Indaco

526 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, United States // +18437271229

Nestled in the lively realm of Upper King Street, I discovered a culinary canvas painted in the richest shades of Italian flavors – welcome to Indaco, or as the Italians say, ‘indigo’. 

This rustic eatery is a symphony of convivial vibes, wood-fired wonders, and an Italian wine list that reads like poetry.

I was immediately embraced by the warmth of the wood-fired oven, glowing in the heart of an open kitchen. 

The community tables and the comforting ambiance felt like an invitation to a gastronomic journey through rustic Italian landscapes. And let me tell you, the journey was nothing short of spectacular!

The menu at Indaco is a love letter to Italian cuisine, with hand-crafted pasta, house-made salami, and pizzas that dance out of the wood-fired oven with a smoky grace. 

capelletti

Sharing the burrata felt like unraveling a culinary secret, and diving into the seasonal pasta, especially the Cappelletti with short rib, ricotta, and parmesan brodo, was a comforting embrace of Italian favorites with exquisite flavors.

Looking for the perfect companion to your meal? The Negroni Cocktail comes highly recommended, and trust me, it’s a sip of Italian sunshine that complements every dish with a vibrant zest.

Indaco is not just a restaurant; it’s a cozy nook where authenticity meets innovation. Every meal here is a lively celebration, whether you’re on a romantic date or enjoying a night out with friends. 

The atmosphere is a harmonious blend of cozy and vibrant, making every moment feel like a scene from an Italian countryside.

For a longtime fan of Italian food like myself, Indaco was a culinary revelation. It’s a place where every bite is a testament to the passion and tradition of Italian cooking, a place that makes Charleston, SC, a little more flavorful, a little more vibrant. 

Sorelle

88 Broad St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18439741575

Next up is Sorelle, an Italian haven that promises a culinary journey like no other. The grandeur of Sorelle’s interiors struck me immediately – a splendid fusion of marble and intricate tile work that whispered tales of distant Italian shores.

We were the evening’s first guests, allowing us a serene moment to wander through the rooms, each telling a story of elegance and exquisite taste. It was an enchanting prelude to a night of gastronomic discovery.

The opening act of our culinary ballet was the Arancini – divine orbs of cacio e pepe that danced tantalizingly on the palate, quickly becoming the highlight of my evening. 

But it was the Pane focaccia bread, passionately embraced by the robust flavors of roasted Calabrian pepper, that truly captured the essence of Italy. The spice, the texture – it was as if every bite whispered secrets of ancient Italian kitchens.

Arancini

We continued with the Tajarin Al Raggu, a dish that wove a rich tapestry of flavors, and the Spaghetti Squash Alla Carbonara, a masterful reinterpretation of a classic. 

Each dish was a testament to Sorelle’s culinary artistry, blending tradition with innovation.

The finale was a shared Budino, a symphony of hazelnuts, caramel, and Nutella crema. It was more than just a dessert; it was a celebration, a fitting adieu to a meal that transcended the ordinary.

The essence of Sorelle, however, lies not just in its food but in the ballet of impeccable service that accompanies each dish. 

The staff, attentive and knowledgeable, moved with a rhythm that only heightened our dining experience, turning our dinner into an event to cherish.

Mario’s Italian Ristorante

487 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, United States // +18436410441

Tucked away in the heart of Charleston, SC, I found a charming spot where the warmth of Italian hospitality meets the richness of culinary traditions – welcome to Mario’s Italian Ristorante! 

With its exposed-brick walls and a blend of modern and elegant interiors, Mario’s sets the stage for a rendezvous with Italian classics that’s both easygoing and memorable.

Walking into Mario’s, I could sense why it’s a go-to for many Charlestonians. The ambiance is a harmonious blend of tradition and contemporary, making every meal feel like a celebration. 

Gnocchi with Chicken

And speaking of meals, let’s talk about their standout Gnocchi with Chicken – a dish that’s a symphony of flavors and textures, making every bite a moment to savor.

But that’s not all! Mario’s fabulous wine list is a treasure trove of perfect pairings. Whether you’re indulging in Neapolitan-style pizzas or diving into their hearty pasta dishes, there’s a sip of Italian vineyards waiting to elevate your culinary experience.

As a family-owned establishment, Mario’s has a special place in the hearts of locals. It’s renowned for its fresh seafood and generous portions, making every visit a unique dining adventure. 

The vibe is unassuming yet vibrant, the kind of place where every dish tells a story of Italian heritage and passion.

And let’s not forget the reasonable prices! While the portions are sizeable, ensuring you leave with a satisfied smile and a happy heart, the experience is priceless. 

Muse Restaurant & Wine Bar

82 Society St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18435771102

Located down a quaint side street in Downtown Charleston, Muse Restaurant & Wine Bar is a delightful discovery, a treasure trove of Mediterranean delights housed within the charming walls of a building dating back to 1855. 

Our host, Donnie, greeted us with the kind of hospitality that makes you feel right at home. He had a unique knack for crafting special drinks based on our individual liquor preferences, turning the art of mixology into a personalized experience.

Dining at Muse is like taking a step back in time, with each room of this historic house boasting its own eclectic charm. 

The setting was more than just a backdrop; it was a character in our evening’s story, adding layers of intrigue and coziness to our meal.

pasta

We started with a Bibb Salad, adorned with fried artichokes that were notably bread-free, a refreshing twist to a classic. 

The catch of the night, Mahi served with pasta, was a harmonious marriage of flavors, perfectly capturing the essence of the sea. 

The Flounder with Crab was another standout, a dish that elegantly showcased the finesse of Muse’s kitchen.

As the evening drew to a close, with the lingering taste of crème brûlée sweetening our conversation, it was clear that Muse isn’t just a place to dine; it’s a destination where history, hospitality, and culinary excellence converge.

Melfi’s

721 King St, Charleston, SC 29403, United States // +18435130307

Venturing further up King Street, amidst the burgeoning northern restaurant district of Charleston, SC, I stumbled upon a culinary gem – Melfi’s. 

Housed in a historic brick corner store, with large plate glass windows, this spot offers a front-row seat to the vibrant street life, all while savoring delectable Italian dishes.

Melfi’s is a place where the past and present dance in a harmonious ballet of flavors. Named after the family who once ran a pharmacy in the same charming space, the restaurant serves as a canvas where classic Italian dishes are painted with bright, unexpected ingredients. 

The ambiance? Think grown-up, clubby, with a touch of timeless elegance, making it a perfect backdrop for both lively nights out and intimate dinners for two.

Diving into the menu, I was greeted by starters like honey and ricotta or warm blue crab bruschetta – a symphony of flavors that set the tone for the culinary journey ahead. 

The house-made linguine tossed with pancetta or littleneck clams, and the “Roman-ish” pizzas like the Mr. Wally, were a testament to Melfi’s commitment to authenticity and innovation.

osso bucco

And oh, the pizzas! Crisp, Roman-style, with a twist of creativity – the margherita, adorned with creamy, housemade stracciatella cheese, was a melody of textures and flavors. 

Each bite, from the Osso Bucco to the Caesar Salad, was a celebration of Italian culinary traditions, reimagined and revitalized.

But what’s a feast without a drink to elevate the experience? For Negroni aficionados like myself, the choice of seven innovative variations was a delightful surprise. 

Each sip was a complement to the dishes, enhancing the vibrant flavors and adding a touch of Italian sunshine to the meal.

The enchanting environment transports you to a different time and place, where every dish is a story, every flavor a memory. 

Before you leave, don’t forget to try the gelato – it’s a signature dish that encapsulates the essence of Melfi’s.

Vincent Chicco’s

15 Beaufain St, Charleston, SC 29401, United States // +18432120920

In the heart of Charleston, where cobblestone streets echo with tales of the past, there is a culinary sanctuary – Vincent Chicco’s. 

Part of the esteemed Holy City Hospitality group, this elegant dining establishment is a canvas where authentic Italian cuisine is painted with strokes of refinement and tradition.

Vincent Chicco’s, with its distinguished yet welcoming ambiance, is a serene hideaway that whispers tales of Italian culinary artistry. 

Once known for its all-pasta tasting experience, the restaurant continues to celebrate pasta’s timeless allure, featuring it prominently on a menu that is a testament to the rich tapestry of Italian-American dishes found downtown.

Chicken Parm

As I stepped into Vincent Chicco’s, the elegance of the surroundings embraced me, setting the stage for a dining experience that promised to be nothing short of exquisite. 

The patio dining, under the Charleston sky, added a touch of al fresco magic to the meal, making every bite a melody of flavors and every moment a cherished memory.

The culinary journey at Vincent Chicco’s was a symphony of freshness and perfection. The Bruschetta, a harmonious blend of textures and tastes, was a delightful overture. 

The Chicken Parm, cooked to perfection, sang the songs of Italian kitchens, and the Tiramisu? Ah, it was a sweet finale that left me yearning for more.

Every dish at Vincent Chicco’s is a celebration of the finest Italian food in Charleston. The atmosphere is a blend of elegance and comfort, the people a reflection of the warmth and hospitality that the Holy City is renowned for. 

It’s a place where every meal is a journey, every flavor a cherished memory.

Gale Restaurant

601 Meeting St Suite 140, Charleston, SC 29403, United States // +18438184977

Next on the list is a culinary jewel called Gale Restaurant. From the very first step inside, it was evident that this place was a canvas of welcoming vibes and a symphony of flavors, where every guest is invited to partake in a gastronomic ballet of creative care and immaculate attention to detail.

Navigating to Gale was a breeze, its prime location serving as a gateway to the interstate and the myriad charms of Charleston. 

The ambiance inside was a harmonious blend of elegance and comfort, with colored lights above the bar adding a playful touch to the atmosphere. 

It felt like stepping into a culinary sanctuary, where every corner whispered tales of gastronomic adventures.

Our culinary guide for the evening was Jorge, a server whose passion and knowledge transformed the meal into an unforgettable journey. 

He navigated us through the authentic Italian options on the menu with finesse, suggesting modifications and introducing us to the delightful world of mocktails. 

The Lavender Rain, a sip of which felt like dancing in a blooming meadow, was a particular highlight.

margherita

The culinary symphony at Gale was a celebration of freshness and creativity. The pizzas shared among us were a testament to the chef’s commitment to crafting each dish to order. 

Watching the cannoli being filled right from our table added a touch of culinary theatre to the experience, making every bite a moment to savor.

Jorge’s attentiveness extended to packing up our leftover Shrimp and Margherita pizzas separately, and to our delight, we were treated to a sampling of cornbread the chef was perfecting. 

It was these thoughtful touches that made the meal at Gale not just enjoyable but truly memorable.

Gale Restaurant is more than just a dining establishment; it’s a place where the warmth of Charleston meets the richness of Italian cuisine, where every dish is a story, and every moment is cherished. 

If you’re seeking a memorable meal in the heart of Charleston, Gale Restaurant is a melody of flavors and experiences waiting to be discovered. 

La Fontana Authentic Italian Restaurant SC

1759 Savannah Hwy, Charleston, SC 29407, United States // +18435561111

Nestled in West Ashley, Charleston, SC, I uncovered a culinary treasure – La Fontana Authentic Italian Restaurant. 

This quaint sit-down spot, with its welcoming ambiance, is a haven specializing in the vibrant cuisine of Naples, offering a rich tapestry of pastas, pizzas, and fresh seafood. And for my fellow dog lovers, the outdoor tables are a friendly nod to our furry companions.

 I was immediately enveloped by the aroma of homemade, truly authentic Italian food. Hailing from Boston and embracing my Italian roots, I’ve encountered many a restaurant claiming authenticity, but La Fontana? It’s the real deal. 

The kind of place where, despite declaring you couldn’t eat another bite, you find yourself delving into dessert with unabashed delight.

pasta Bolognese

The culinary journey at La Fontana was a celebration of flavors. The pasta Bolognese I savored was a harmonious blend of textures and tastes, each bite a testament to the richness of Italian cuisine. 

My friend, indulging in the tagliatelle with shrimp, echoed my sentiments, her plate a canvas of culinary artistry.

La Fontana is not just a restaurant; it’s a story of passion and tradition. It’s a call to support a long-term, loyal, local business, to look beyond the cover and discover the unique and retro charm that lies within.

It’s an invitation to have fun, to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, and to savor a great, authentic Italian meal.

So, if you find yourself wandering the charming streets of Charleston, SC, and yearning for a taste of Naples, La Fontana Authentic Italian Restaurant is a melody of flavors and moments waiting to be discovered. 

Dive into the authenticity, embrace the uniqueness, and let the culinary magic of La Fontana, a remarkable take on Italian cuisine, transport you to the heart of Italy. 

Best Italian Restaurants in Charleston and Near: To Visit List

1. Bella Roma Italian Food

  1. Cuisine: Italian
  2. Location: 2070 Sam Rittenberg Blvd Unit FC4, Charleston, SC 29407
  3. Price: $
  4. Rating: 4.0 out of 413 reviews

2. Frannie & The Fox

  1. Cuisine: Italian
  2. Location: 181 Church St, Charleston, SC 29401
  3. Price: $$
  4. Rating: 4.4 out of 417 reviews

3. D’Allesandro’s Pizza

  1. Cuisine: Pizza
  2. Location: 229 St Philip St, Charleston, SC 29403
  3. Price: $
  4. Rating: 4.6 out of 1138 reviews

4. Mondo’s Italian Restaurant

  1. Cuisine: Italian
  2. Location: 915 Folly Rd, Charleston, SC 29412
  3. Price: $$
  4. Rating: 4.5 out of 548 reviews

5. Crust Wood Fired Pizza

  1. Cuisine: Italian
  2. Location: 1956 Maybank Hwy #B, Charleston, SC 29412
  3. Price: $$
  4. Rating: 4.6 out of 678 reviews

6. Coda Del Pesce

  1. Cuisine: Italian
  2. Location: 1130 Ocean Blvd, Isle of Palms, SC 29451
  3. Price: $$$
  4. Rating: 4.5 out of 358 reviews

7. Bricco Bracco

  1. Cuisine: Italian
  2. Location: 1161 Basketweave Dr, Mt Pleasant, SC 29466
  3. Price: $$
  4. Rating: 4.3 out of 668 reviews

Foodies Also Ask About The Best Italian Restaurants In Downtown Charlestone

What makes the Italian food scene in Downtown Charleston unique?

Downtown Charleston boasts a diverse and vibrant Italian food scene, blending traditional Italian flavors with Southern hospitality. 

Each restaurant offers a unique twist, from authentic Neapolitan pizzas to innovative pasta dishes, ensuring a culinary adventure for every Italian food aficionado.

Is it possible to find Italian restaurants in Downtown Charleston that won’t break the bank?

Definitely! Downtown Charleston offers a variety of Italian dining options to suit all budgets, from upscale restaurants to more casual, affordable spots, ensuring a delightful Italian experience for all.

Can I expect a variety of Italian wines at the restaurants in Downtown Charleston?

Absolutely, Italian restaurants in Downtown Charleston often feature extensive wine lists, showcasing a variety of Italian wines to perfectly complement your meal.

Wrapping Up: The 7 Best Italian Restaurants In Downtown Charleston

In the charming embrace of Downtown Charleston, where history and hospitality intertwine, discovering the top seven Italian restaurants is a culinary adventure like no other. 

Each establishment serves as a canvas, painting a rich tapestry of flavors, traditions, and innovations, transporting every diner to the picturesque landscapes of Italy. 

From the rustic allure of wood-fired pizzas to the sophisticated symphony of freshly made pasta dishes, the Italian food scene here is a harmonious blend of authenticity and creativity.

As you wander through the cobblestone streets, the aroma of garlic, basil, and simmering tomato sauce fills the air, whispering tales of gastronomic delights waiting to be explored. 

Whether you’re a lover of classic Italian fare or a seeker of culinary innovation, Downtown Charleston offers a diverse palette of Italian dining experiences, ensuring every meal is a celebration of La Dolce Vita.

So, embark on this flavorful journey, let the vibrant atmosphere and warm Southern hospitality enhance your dining experience, and savor the myriad of Italian treasures hidden in the heart of Downtown Charleston. 

Each bite is a story, each flavor a cherished memory, making the quest for the best Italian restaurant not just a culinary exploration but a voyage through the rich and diverse tapestry of Italian cuisine. Buon Appetito!

Visiting other destinations in South Carolina? Check out our other delicious guides:

While in Charleston, don’t miss out on activities that will help immerse yourself in the city (hurry while they’re hot!):

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