306 S. High St., (410) 727-0700,
$$$, D, R
Start with cream of asparagus soup and the wild mushroom risotto, then splurge with the tournedos Rossini filet mignon dish, holding your nose over the foie gras.
Amicci’s of Little Italy
231 S. High St., (410) 528-1096,
$$, L, D, Out, R, DV
Totally affordable Italian entrees in a friendly, casual atmosphere. A big “yes, please” to tortellini with peas and ham.
Café Gia Ristorante
410 S. High St., (410) 685-6727,
$$$, L, D, Out, R, DV
The toasted lunch sandwiches, especially the eggplant alla parmigiana, are classics. For dinner, the penne vodka is homey but not homely.
Casa di Pasta
210 Albermarle St., (410) 539-5383,
A Little Italy mainstay for more than 40 years, this little Italian retail store is best known for, as the name might suggest, its extensive menu of fresh pastas, which range from shrimp stuffed shells to beet and blue cheese ravioli to squid-ink cut pasta.
237 S. High St., (410) 837-0309,
$$$, L, D, R, DV
The familial atmosphere and great service here have passed through the generations since 1940. The garlicky salad has long made Little Italy proud.
236 S. High St., (410) 685-7733,
$$$, L, D, OUT, R
Ciao Bella takes the best from up and down the Boot. Its veal saltimbocca—veal with prosciutto and saged mushroom Marsala sauce—is to die for.
217 S. High St., (410) 727-6876,
$$$, L, D, P, R
Upscale Italian serving both family specialties and finely executed classics—don’t know into which category the divine lobster tetrazzini falls, but it hardly matters.
829 Eastern Ave., (410) 539-1965,
$$, L, D, Out, R
Unlike some of Little Italy’s options, this Northern Italian-focused mainstay emphasizes flavor over portion size. A favorite for large parties.
i300 S. High St., (410) 752-4515,
$$, L, D, Out, R
Get dolled up for a night at Germano’s, especially if you’re seeing one of its many shows, be it cabaret or otherwise. Pair a nice cheese with a cured meat or olive, and then pick an entree from the contemporary Italian menu, like the maiale al forno: braised pork, a fried egg, and a blood orange glaze.
■ Where to go with a group for an upscale meal in Little Italy without dealing with the area’s tight parking (or calling an Uber)
1012 Eastern Ave., (410) 783-9209,
$$$, D, OUT, R
Baltimore’s Little Italy is home to dozens of restaurants serving high-quality Italian food with various regional representation. This cozy, popular pocket of town also has some of the tightest parking on its side of the city. While most spots offer valet parking, and summoning an Uber isn’t hard with only a friend or two, transportation can be a challenge for a night out with a big group. La Scala, known for its innovative indoor bocce court, upscale Sicilian cuisine, and affordable happy hour, solved the parking problem by providing complimentary shuttle service within a 2.5-mile radius of the restaurant. With a quick call, large parties can get door-to-door service, which is as crucial to those in the cold as it is to those in stylish shoes. Now you can enjoy as many of its well-known espresso martinis as you want. (Jennifer Waldera)
Heavy Seas Alehouse
1300 Bank St., (410) 753-1403,
$$, L, D, 10 p.m.
The downtown outpost of the Halethorpe brewery serves up a mix of dressed-up bar food—such as sausage sliders and soft pretzel sticks—and fine cuisine, such as flat-iron steak and shepherd’s pie. Beer pairings are suggested for each entree.
Isabella’s Brick Oven
221 S. High St., (410) 962-8888,
$$, L, D, DV
This cozy Little Italy eatery arguably bakes up the best pizza in the neighborhood. Crusts have that nice crispy char, the sauce has a little zip, and the toppings are plentiful.
Joe Benny’s Focacceria
313 S. High St., (443) 835-4866,
$$, L, D
Sometimes a thin crust just doesn’t cut it. Thankfully, the specialty here is focaccia (aka super thick, breadlike dough for Sicilian-style pizza). It also serves other Southern Italian small plates and paninis—don’t miss out on the meatballs.
248 Albemarle St., (410) 685-1859,
$$$, L, D, Out, R, DV
Fresh house-made pasta and sauces make for good eats, but the thinly sliced veal in the vitello alla norcina here is truly divine.
Mo’s Crab and Pasta Factory
502 Albemarle St., (410) 837-1600,
$$$, L, D, R, DV
Crab dip and clams casino meet ravioli and angel hair at this Italian-and-seafood hub.
323 S. Central Ave., (410) 327-0023,
$$, L, D, R, dv
This authentic Thai spot adds some variety to Little Italy’s selections. The ka pow really lives up to its name with garlic and chili flavors—and if you get it “Thai style” it comes with sliced beef, crispy shallots, and a fried egg. Careful: The curries can get tongue-numbingly spicy.
806 Stiles St., (410) 528-2710,
$$$, D, OUT
A stylish and simple modern restaurant that serves traditional Persian and Mediterranean fare. Tender and succulent skewered items—jujeh (Cornish hen), barg (marinated tenderloin), and beef kubideh (ground sirloin with onions)—won’t fail you. Lunch is served Friday through Sunday.
Pane e Vino
408 S. High St., (410) 685-3300,
$$, D, 10 p.m.
The owners of Café Gia have opened up this leisurely bar right next door, with well-executed cocktails and all of Café Gia’s menu items available, thanks to a shared kitchen.
Piedigrotta Italian Bakery and Pasta Shop
1300 Bank St., Suite 140, (410) 522-6900,
$$, B, L, D, BYOB, OUT, R
A vast array of Italian treats—including the owner—greets customers of this Little Italy staple: pane, grottoni, crostates, tortes, and more. You can also buy some freshly prepared lasagna to pass off as your own at home. Piedigrotta also serves sit-down dinners year-round.
Sabatino’s Italian Restaurant
901 Fawn St., (410) 727-9414,
$$$, L, D, 10 p.m., R
Southern/Central Italian specialties, but a good bet is the bookmaker salad to open, with the fettuccine Felicia to close.
415 S. Central Ave., (410) 624-5947,
$$, L, D, P
The same great tortillas as the original storefront location on Eastern Avenue, but with a bigger menu, full service, and a liquor license. The cochinita pibil is particularly rich and savory.
Yemen Arabian Restaurant
411 S. High St., (410) 385-4900
$$, L, D
This place has a pretty delectable lamb-centric menu (with a free lamb soup for a starter) and is a good dining option if you want to pass on pasta.
■ Where to satisfy your craving for a serious sugar binge
Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop
222 Albemarle St., (410) 685-4905,
$, B, L, D, OUT
After a long day, it’s easy to find a spot to wash away the pain and shame of the 9-5 with liquor, but what if a heaping bowl of sugary goodness is the way to mend your heart? Vaccaro’s, fortunately, has both, but the siren song from its cases full of cookies, cream puffs, and cannolis might be enough to silence your booze craving. From its dozen-and-a-half decadent gelato offerings, to its creamy cheesecakes, puffy custard-filled napoleons, and traditional tiramisu, this corner dessert shop in Little Italy is a mainstay for a reason. The icing on the cake (the chocolate-chip-dotted ricotta in the cannoli?) is its Monday-night special of all-you-can-eat dessert and coffee for $15.50. And if you still need that taste of liquor? Order the rum cake, with three tiers of cake soaked in rum, layered with vanilla and chocolate custard, then coated with sliced almonds. What a way to start the week. (Jennifer Waldera)