Italian food is a taste that almost everyone loves, whether it is spaghetti and lasagna or ricotta and ravioli. However, many people want to get authentic Italian food when they go out, and a lot of the national restaurant chains are anything but unique when it comes to their offerings. Luckily, Italian lovers in Houston have plenty of choices for local Italian grills and cafes to choose from. If you are in the mood for some zesty Italian food that tastes like it’s right out of the Old Country, try local Houston eatiers.
Ciro’s Italian Grill
9755 Katy Freeway
Houston, TX 77024
(713) 467-9336

Ciro’s opened in 1986 in Houston and developed the restaurant with the idea of delivering a casual ambiance, attentive servers and great Italian food. Part of the charm also came when the eatery began using an actual wood-burning pizza oven from Italy. Ciro’s has some great specialty recipes such as its signature crab dip, penne “Covarrubias” and ziti salmon. There’s also a full bar that sells cigars, which can be partaken of on the patio.

Nino’s Restaurant & Bar
2817 W. Dallas St.
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 522-5120

Nino’s Restaurant & Bar is part of the Vincent Mandola Family of restaurants, which also includes Grappino Di Nino and Vincent’s in Houston as well. Nino’s is a traditional Italian restaurant opened by Vincent and Mary Mandola in 1977. The restaurant has an on-premise commissary that creates its own pastas, homemade mozzarella, deserts, ciabatta and focaccia breads. And don’t forget to try the house favorite: charbroiled oysters oreganato served on the half shell. Tip: On Saturdays, Nino’s is only open for dinner.

D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe
5510 Morningside Drive, Suite 140
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 526-3400

Noah D’Amico has been part of the Houston restaurant scene for more than 30 years as a cousin of the famed Mandola family. In 1977, the same year that the Mandola’s opened Nino’s Restaurant & Bar, D’Amico opened his own upscale Italian restaurant as well with D’Amico’s Ristorante Italiano. His restaurants turned into a chain, but in 1996 he decided that wasn’t what he wanted to do. Instead, he opened D’Amico’s Italian Market Cafe, which was a more casual, family restaurant. D’Amico’s is a full-service as well as a to-go restaurant that sells both Northern and Southern Sicilian cuisine.

Related: Best Tasting Menus In Houston

Damian’s Cucina Italiana
3011 Smith St
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 522-0439

Damian’s Cucina Italiana has served the Houston area authentic Italian food for 30 years now. This is not a casual dining restaurant, and business-casual dress is required, as anyone wearing shorts, tee shirts or sandals will be turned away. However, in exchange for dressing up, Damian’s offers one of Houston’s top dining experiences, with homemade pastas, fine meats, salads and fresh seafood. It also serves up a great list of Italian wines and all breads and deserts are made daily in the restaurant’s own upstairs bakery.

Piatto Ristorante
4925 W. Alabama St.
Houston, TX 77056
(713) 871-9722

The winner of the Diner’s Choice Award in 2012 by, Piatto Ristorante has been serving Houston since 2001. Ran by the Carrabba Family, Piatto serves rich home-style Italian dining, priding themselves by making the cuisine fresh daily. The restaurant also advertises that many of the special, unique recipes have been passed down through four generations for one-of-a-kind tastes. Don’t pass up the fried calamari and asparagus speciali (breaded, fried and topped with jumbo lump crabmeat and lemon butter sauce) to start.

Related: Best Brick Oven Pizzas In The Houston Area

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos.