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The Best Italian Restaurants In Rochester NY | 6 Must-Try Places

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In this article we’re diving into the heart of Rochester, NY, a city that’s not just known for its scenic beauty but also as a haven for Italian cuisine aficionados. 

Here, every corner and cobblestone street seems to whisper tales of culinary mastery, especially when it comes to Italian fare. And guess what? I’ve got the inside scoop on the six Italian restaurants in Rochester that are absolutely unmissable!

Let’s kick off with Rocco. This isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a time machine to a bygone era of Italian culinary excellence. Imagine a plate of linguine with white clam sauce that tastes like it’s straight from the shores of Sicily. 

Next, we swing by Pasta Villa, where the family vibe is as authentic as their broccoli french and those meatballs that could rival any Italian grandma’s recipe.

Italian restaurants in rochester ny

But hold on, there’s more to this flavor fest! Bella Pasta Restaurant is where classic Italian meets the magic of a wood-fired oven. 

And then there’s Pane Vino, nestled by the river, offering a backdrop as enchanting as its Pesto Al Pasta.

Don’t overlook Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta, a chic spot where even the gluten-free pizza is a culinary masterpiece. 

And finally, we cap off our tour at Grappa Italian Nouveau, a place that redefines Italian dining with its innovative small plates and grappa-infused cocktails.

So, are you ready to explore the Italian culinary wonders of Rochester, NY? These six spots aren’t just restaurants; they’re gateways to an Italian gastronomic paradise right here in the heart of the city!

My Top Three Picks of the Best Italian Restaurants In Rochester NY

Restaurant Top PickOur Rating
Pane Vino On The RiverEggplant Parmesan5/5
Grappa Italian NouveauPesto Al Pasta4.5/5
RoccoSpaghetti with shrimp4.5/5

The 6 Best Italian Restaurants In Rochester NY


165 Monroe Ave, Rochester, NY 14607, United States // +15854543510

Picture yourself stepping into a space where the essence of Italy is so palpable it’s almost like you’ve been teleported straight to a bustling street in Rome.

First off, Rocco isn’t your run-of-the-mill Italian restaurant. It’s a place where the charm of the old world seamlessly blends with a contemporary flair. 

Inside, you’re greeted by an atmosphere that’s as inviting as a warm hug from an old friend. It’s cozy, yes, but it’s the coziness that adds to its allure, making every visit feel special.

Rocco prides itself on its homemade offerings, and it shows. The ricotta cheese is like a creamy dream, and the Italian wine list is ever-evolving, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to try.

Our foodie experience kicked off with the grilled calamari – tender and perfectly seasoned. Then came the arancini, little balls of joy, and a tri-color salad so fresh it could’ve been picked right then and there. But wait, there’s more. The crispy fish with butternut caponata was a symphony of flavors, the mushroom pizza was a masterpiece, and the spaghetti with shrimp was a dish I’d travel miles for. And the quail with Gorgonzola polenta? Simply out of this world.

Spaghetti with Shrimp at Rocco

The drinks deserve their own round of applause. The wine and cocktails complemented our meal in a way that only expertly chosen beverages can. Each sip was a celebration, a toast to the Italian way of life.

Dessert was the grand finale – the butterscotch pudding. It wasn’t just a dessert; it was the crowning glory of an already spectacular meal. 

Creamy, indulgent, and with just the right touch of sweetness, it was the perfect endnote to our culinary symphony.

The service at Rocco was the cherry on top. The staff were more than just servers; they were like culinary guides, leading us through our meal with expertise and warmth.

So, if you find yourself in the area with a craving for authentic Italian cuisine, Rocco is your go-to. Just be sure to book a table – this place is a favorite for a reason!

The Pasta Villa

1313 East Ridge Road, Rochester, NY 14621, United States // +15852662676

Next, Pasta Villa stands out as a beacon of traditional Italian home cooking, a place that has rightfully earned its spot among the top Italian restaurants in Rochester, NY. This family-run restaurant is where hearty portions meet the authentic flavors of Italy, creating a dining experience that’s both comforting and delightful. 

It’s the kind of place that makes you feel at home, where each meal is not just food but a story told through flavors and aromas.

Weekends at Pasta Villa are a bustling affair, with locals flocking to enjoy the simple yet exquisite Italian cooking that has garnered high praise from reviewers. 

The dishes here aren’t just meals; they’re culinary creations that bring the essence of Italy to your plate. 

The homemade sauces, signature pasta dishes, and lovingly prepared entrees are a testament to the restaurant’s commitment to authenticity and quality.

The staff at Pasta Villa add to the charm of the place. Their warm and welcoming nature makes you feel like you’re dining with family, not just eating out. It’s this personal touch that turns a meal into an experience.

Meatballs at The Pasta Villa

Now, let’s talk about the food that makes Pasta Villa a must-visit. The broccoli french is a standout, with a French sauce that’s nothing short of perfection. And the meatballs – oh, the meatballs! 

They’re like a little piece of homemade heaven, reminiscent of a beloved grandmother’s cooking. The marinara sauce? Absolutely spot-on.

I had the pleasure of trying their gnocchis served over greens and beans, and it was a dish I won’t soon forget. My friend opted for pasta with vodka sauce and prosciutto, and it was, in a word, fabulous.

Our waitress was the cherry on top of an already delightful evening. Her perfect balance of attentiveness and experience made our dining experience even more enjoyable. 

It’s this kind of service that makes Pasta Villa not just a restaurant, but a dining destination.

Bella Pasta Restaurant and Catering

2500 Ridgeway Ave, Rochester, NY 14626, United States // +15853406100

Bella Pasta Restaurant is a haven for those seeking exceptional Italian cuisine in a setting that’s both relaxed and inviting. 

This establishment is not just about serving food; it’s about creating an experience where comfort meets culinary excellence. 

The staff here strike the perfect balance between professionalism and warmth, ensuring every guest feels both welcomed and well taken care of.

Imagine walking into Bella Pasta on a bustling Tuesday afternoon, around one o’clock, to find the place buzzing with energy. 

It’s a heartwarming sight, seeing a restaurant alive with the chatter and laughter of satisfied diners. This popularity speaks volumes about the quality and appeal of Bella Pasta.

Parking is a breeze, despite the restaurant’s popularity. The huge lot it shares with other stores in the strip mall means you might have to park a bit away from the front door on busy nights, but this minor inconvenience is a small price to pay for the culinary delights that await inside.

The menu at Bella Pasta is a testament to Italian culinary traditions, offering a variety of dishes that cater to all tastes and preferences. 

Scallops at Bella Pasta Restaurant and Catering

A standout feature of Bella Pasta is their seafood selection. The scallops, for instance, are a must-try. Cooked to tender perfection, they are a true representation of the chef’s expertise and attention to detail. The service complements the food wonderfully. 

Our waitress was the epitome of attentiveness, making regular check-ins to ensure our dining experience was nothing short of perfect. 

The spacious layout of the restaurant adds to the comfort, allowing for a sense of privacy and space, even when the restaurant is full.

And let’s not forget the sweet ending to a delightful meal – the cannoli. Taking one to go was a decision I’ll never regret. 

It was the perfect encapsulation of Bella Pasta’s commitment to quality in every aspect of their food.

Bella Pasta Restaurant is more than just a dining venue; it’s a place where the joys of Italian cooking are celebrated in a setting that’s as welcoming as it is comfortable.

Pane Vino On The River

175 N Water St, Rochester, NY 14604, United States // +15852326090

Pane Vino, placedin a picturesque setting, offers more than just Italian cuisine; it provides a magical dining experience. 

This quaint eatery, complete with a cozy fireplace and a tree-topped courtyard, becomes a haven of warmth and charm, especially with its weekly live music that adds a delightful touch to the ambiance.

Perfect for both romantic date nights and special occasions, Pane Vino On The River is a gem in the culinary landscape. 

Its patio, offering stunning views of the river, becomes an enchanting spot to spend a warm winter evening, where the beauty of nature and the comfort of good food merge seamlessly.

Dining at Pane Vino is an experience to cherish. On our visit, we chose to dine on the outdoor patio, just as the sun was setting.

The twinkling patio lights and outdoor heaters created an atmosphere that was both comfortable and sophisticated. The live music, an unexpected but thoroughly enjoyable feature, added a layer of joy to our evening.

Eggplant Parmesan at Pane Vino on the River

The culinary experience was possibly the best we’ve ever tasted. The coconut shrimp appetizer set the tone for the evening – three colossal shrimp, coated in coconut flakes and fried to perfection, served with an orange marmalade and horseradish sauce that was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy.

For the main course, the choices were just as impressive. The lasagna, a hearty portion with flavors reminiscent of the old country, was a standout. 

The Eggplant Parmesan, cooked flawlessly, was another highlight. Each dish was complemented by a choice of fresh salads, warm bread served with seasoned butter, spiced olive oil, and a selection of grated cheeses.

The staff at Pane Vino were exceptional, providing world-class service from start to finish. It’s no wonder this place is rated Rochester’s #1 Italian Restaurant. Pane Vino On The River truly lives up to its reputation, offering an excellent dining experience that leaves a lasting impression.

Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta

318 East Ave, Rochester, NY 14604, United States // +15854545444

Next on the list is Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta, a stylish culinary destination in Rochester, NY, offers a delightful fusion of classic Italian entrees, wood-fired pizzas, and a curated selection of beer and wine, all set within a chic, brick-walled space. 

This Italian eatery has become a local favorite, known for its authentic flavors and inviting atmosphere. 

With two locations, one in Gates and a newer one that opened in 2020, Veneto provides a convenient and charming dining experience.

Our visit was exceptional. The Utica greens, a standout dish, were phenomenal.

Pizza at Veneto Wood Fired Pizza & Pasta

We opted for the addition of sausage, which proved to be a masterful choice, enhancing the dish without overpowering it with spice. 

The Mediterranean pizza, prepared on gluten-free dough, was easily one of the best we’ve had to date. It was a delightful blend of flavors, perfectly cooked in their wood-fired oven.

The salad, topped with grilled chicken, was another surprise. The portion was generous, easily three times what we had anticipated, making it both satisfying and an excellent value. 

The atmosphere at Veneto complements the dining experience beautifully, striking a balance between elegance and comfort. 

It’s a place where you can unwind, enjoy great food, and soak in the ambiance without feeling the pinch on your wallet.

Grappa Italian Nouveau

30 Celebration Dr, Rochester, NY 14620, United States // +15854455770

Last on the list is Grappa Italian Nouveau, a chic and trendy Italian eatery, stands out in the culinary scene with its unique blend of small plates, pizza, pasta, and entrees, complemented by an exquisite selection of grappa cocktails and wine.

The restaurant boasts an airy and elegant atmosphere, offering a comfortable dining experience with both indoor and outdoor seating options.

Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Grappa caters to all tastes and times. The menu, though simple, is a testament to the power of high-quality ingredients, each dish crafted to bring out the best in Italian cuisine.

Pesto al Pasta at Grappa Italian Nouveau

The arancini was a great start, but the real showstopper was the crispy Brussels sprouts. Tossed in balsamic with pickled onion and topped with Parmesan Reggiano, this dish was a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, making it the highlight of our meal. 

As a side to my Pesto Al Pasta, which was equally impressive, the Brussels sprouts added an extra layer of enjoyment to the dining experience.

We concluded our meal on a high note with their homemade Budino and a slice of Oreo cheesecake from Chessy Eddy’s. 

The Budino was a creamy, dreamy delight, while the cheesecake was a perfect balance of rich and sweet. These desserts were not just the end of a meal but the culmination of a culinary journey.

Grappa Italian Nouveau is a destination for those who appreciate the finer aspects of Italian dining. 

With its elegant setting, high-quality ingredients, and a menu that caters to a variety of tastes, Grappa is a must-visit for anyone looking to indulge in the true essence of Italian cuisine.


What are some must-try Italian dishes in Rochester, NY?

When in Rochester, don’t miss out on trying the local specialties like Utica greens, a unique Italian-American dish. Also, explore the various homemade pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and classic Italian desserts like cannoli and tiramisu offered by many restaurants.

Is there a good selection of Italian wines in Rochester’s Italian restaurants?

Definitely! Many Italian restaurants in Rochester boast extensive wine lists featuring selections from various regions of Italy. Whether you prefer a robust Chianti or a delicate Pinot Grigio, you’ll find plenty of options to complement your meal.

Can I find authentic Italian pizza in Rochester, NY?

Absolutely! Rochester boasts a variety of pizzerias offering authentic Italian pizza. From classic Neapolitan to rustic Roman styles, these pizzerias use traditional techniques and ingredients, including wood-fired ovens, to create pizzas that would impress even the most discerning pizza aficionados.

Wrapping Up: The 6 Best Italian Restaurants In Rochester

And there you have it, a whirlwind tour of Rochester, NY’s finest Italian culinary delights! Each of these six restaurants offers more than just a meal; they provide a journey through the rich tapestry of Italian cuisine. 

From the cozy, family-run trattorias to the chic, modern eateries, the Italian dining scene in Rochester is a mosaic of flavors, textures, and aromas. 

Whether you’re craving the comfort of a hearty pasta dish, the crisp bite of a wood-fired pizza, or the innovation of contemporary Italian cuisine, this city has it all. 

The charm of these establishments isn’t just in their delicious food but also in the ambiance they offer – a blend of warmth, elegance, and a touch of Italian flair. 

So, next time you find yourself in Rochester, remember that an Italian culinary adventure awaits, promising to tantalize your taste buds and leave you with memories of delightful dining experiences.

Visiting other destinations in New York? Check out other delicious foodie guides:

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Monica Mattioli

Monday 18th of December 2023

Indeed! Rochester has great Italian options. Yum :)

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