Buon appetito: Detroit's 4 best spots for Italian cooking

In search of a new favorite Italian spot?

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the top Italian restaurants around Detroit, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of where to meet your needs.

1. Ottava Via

Photo: Kara W./Yelp

Topping the list is Ottava Via, a Corktown restaurant serving freshly made pizza, pasta and other Italian fare. Located at 1400 Michigan Ave., it's the highest rated Italian restaurant in Detroit, boasting four stars out of 451 reviews on Yelp. The popular spot has a welcoming vibe, with a full bar and outdoor patio that features two fireplaces and a bocce ball court. 

Start off with the arancini (rice balls stuffed with prosciutto and taleggio cheese), the pecorino cheese plate with Italian bread, pear slices and spiced truffle honey, or one of the many antipasti platters. For dinner, offerings include carbonara with pancetta, Tuscan braised short rib on a bed of mascarpone polenta and seared branzino topped with salsa verde. 

2. PizzaPapalis of Greektown

Photo: PizzaPapalis of Greektown/Yelp

Next up is PizzaPapalis of Greektown, a Detroit staple that's been serving up Chicago-style deep-dish pizza since 1986. With four stars out of 315 reviews on Yelp, the Italian pizzeria at 553 Monroe St. has proven to be a local favorite, with five other southeast Michigan locations and one in Toledo.

The hefty pies take about an hour to bake, but Thrillist insists it's worth the wait, saying PizzaPapalis "nails the combo of gooey cheese, tangy sauce and at least an inch of meats and veggies." Standout pizza options include the V.I.P. (pepperoni, onions, mushrooms and green peppers), the vegetarian and the spinach special with a three-cheese blend. A variety of calzones, pastas and ciabatta sandwiches are also available. 

3. La Pecora Nera

Photo: Lindsay M./Yelp

Downtown's La Pecora Nera, located at 1514 Washington Blvd., is another top choice, with Yelpers giving the Italian deli cafe 4.5 stars out of 42 reviews. The cafe — with a name that translates to "black sheep" — is housed in a casual space with two long communal tables and racks of olives, pizzelle, Italian sodas and other pantry items for sale.

On the chalkboard menus, look for subs like the Italiano (genoa salami, ham, turkey, mortadella, spicy capicola and provolone), the chicken parmigiana and the caprese, along with salads and gelato. Recently, the deli switched to earlier hours and added breakfast sandwiches to the menu, per WDIV.

4. La Lanterna

Photo: Raad R./Yelp

La Lanterna, a wine bar and Italian spot that offers pizza and more in downtown's Capitol Park area, is another go-to, with four stars out of 69 Yelp reviews. Head over to 1224 Griswold St. in the Albert Building to see for yourself. A popular restaurant in the 1960s, the founder's grandson and other family members reopened La Lanterna last year, nearly four decades after it was shuttered, per Eater Detroit.

The revived eatery has a full bar and offers Neapolitan-style brick-oven pizzas, pastas, panini and other Italian fare. On the menu, offerings include gnocchi in a tomato cream sauce, blackened salmon with spinach, house-made meatballs and the Liguria white pizza (shrimp, artichoke hearts, capers and arugula). There's also an extensive list of Italian and California wines.