Where to Go for Italian Food in the Hudson Valley, According to Experts

Local chefs and foodies share where they go for the most mouthwatering chicken parm, pastas, pizzas, and red-sauce specials in the region.

When it comes to the ultimate comfort food, most people crave Italian. There are few dishes that can take the chill off a winter’s night and warm the soul quite like a bowl of creamy pasta, hearty chicken parm, or a cheese-laden pizza pie. Here’s where local chefs and foodies head when they’re in the mood to ciao down on Italian food.

Courtney Malsatszki
Courtney Malsatszki

Food Pro: Courtney Malsatzki, director of operations at Phoenicia Diner in Phoenicia
Fave spot: Graziano’s Downtown Café, Kingston

“It’s like walking into a family home. Graziano’s is a very small place and you have a front row seat to all the action—you almost feel like you’ve been let in on a very special dining club. The owner cooks everything from scratch. If you want an experience where you know the food is made with love and each dish is made just for you—this is the place. I almost always go for one of the pasta specials—the only dish I’ve had more than once is the cacio e pepe with spaghettoni. Honestly, I’ve never had a dish short of amazing at Graziano’s.” grazianosdowntowncafe.com

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Daniel Bagnall
Daniel Bagnall

Food Pro: Daniel Bagnall, owner of Sonder in Kingston
Fave Spot: Market St., Rhinebeck

“It has an easy-going atmosphere, great staff, and a killer negroni. Don’t sleep on their happy hour! I love their meatballs and penne puttanesca. The meatballs are luscious, soft, and always tender, while the penne is salty and hyper savory, so it really hits the spot with a good drink. (They have great fries, too!)” marketstrhinebeck.com

Frank Camey
Frank Camey

Food Pro: Frank Camey, executive chef of Heritage Food + Drink in Wappingers Falls
Fave Spot: Longobardi’s Restaurant, Pizza & Catering, Wappingers Falls

“This is a classic red sauce Italian American joint that I grew up with. I love the veal Parmesan, pizza by the slice (it just hits differently than a whole pie), and the spedini, which is like an open-faced grilled cheese with a rich sauce of anchovies and capers. Delicious!” longobardisrestaurant.com

Kate Schlientz
Kate Schlientz

Food Pro: Kate Schlientz, founder of CommuniKate Media and @intoxikatefoodie on Instagram
Fave Spot: L’inizio, Ardsley

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“The food at cozy L’inizio is amazing; I always tell people it’s Italian inspired, because executive chef Scott Fratangelo can get pretty creative when it comes to his seasonal dishes. Sure, you can get a great bowl of carbonara or Bolognese with their fresh pastas made daily, but it’s the creste di gallo with wild mushrooms and fettucini nero with shrimp, crabmeat, calamari, and clams in marinara sauce that really stand out. (Don’t forget to flip the menu for specials.) And you always have to save room for dessert because, unlike a lot of Italian restaurants, they are made in-house by Scott’s wife Heather, who is one of the best pastry chefs in Westchester.” liniziony.com

Shibumi Jones
Shibumi Jones

Food Pro: Shibumi Jones, founder of Shibumi Jones Hudson Valley Supperclub (a farm-to-table dinner series that pops up around the region)
Fave Spot: A Tavola Trattoria, New Paltz

“I don’t typically order the same thing twice at any restaurant because I like to try everything. But if I had to choose a favorite dish here, it would be the pappardelle Bolognese—my wife has ordered it twice! Each time it was super flavorful, delicious, and served piping hot.”

Bruce Mattel
Bruce Mattel

Food Pro: Bruce Mattel, professor emeritus at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park
Fave Spot: Lolita’s, Poughkeepsie

“When my wife and I get a hankering for Italian, we go to Lolita’s for great house-made pasta, pizza, and salads. It’s a small place, but they have excellent wood-fired pizza using a slow sourdough. Their kale salad is to die for. The pasta is made on premise and extruded with brass dyes giving it that really wonderful texture.” lolitaspizza.com

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Michael Koegel
Michael Koegel

Food Pro: Michael Koegel, owner of Mama’s Boy Burgers in Tannersville
Fave Spot: Vesuvio Restaurant, Hensonville

“You don’t find too many old-school Italian restaurants like Vesuvio these days. It opened in the ‘70s, during the era of ‘The Godfather’ and you half expect the Corleones to be breaking bread in the back corner. They serve the classics: linguini with clam sauce, veal scallopini, and they call their red sauce gravy—just like my great aunt. A salad comes with the meal, spaghetti is served as a side, and the breadsticks are wrapped in cellophane (you know the deal). The portions are generous. And since they make their desserts in house, I always ‘take the cannoli.’” vesuvioitalian.com

plating
Adobe Stock/ Maksim Shebeko

“Walking into Il Cena’Colo is like walking into an old Italian friend’s home and smelling every bit of amazingness from the kitchen… To be honest, I could order any meal there and be extremely happy.”
—Zach Berger

Zach Berger
Zach Berger

Food Pro: Zach Berger, a private chef based in Woodstock
Fave Spot: Il Cena’Colo, Newburgh

“Walking into Il Cena’Colo is like walking into an old Italian family friend’s home and smelling every bit of amazingness from the kitchen. If the wine cellar atmosphere isn’t enough, wait until the staff comes to read you the specials. (From off the top of their heads, they can list 30-plus amazing-sounding specials.) To be honest, I could order any meal there and be extremely happy—I’ve never eaten anything I didn’t like.” ilcenacolorestaurant.com

Clare De Boer
Clare De Boer

Food Pro: Clare de Boer, chef and owner of Stissing House in Pine Plains
Fave Spot: The Lantern Inn, Wassaic

“The Lantern Inn is a community hub. The firepit and picnic benches provide a place for kids and adults to hang out with friends and make new ones. Beyond their Neapolitan-style pizzas and beer, they make great Sicilian meatballs with pine nuts and sultanas (small, dried white seedless grapes).” wassaiclanterninn.com

Dale Talde
Dale Talde

Food Pro: Dale Talde, chef and owner of Goosefeather in Tarrytown
Fave Spot: The Cookery, Dobbs Ferry

“What they are doing here is pure magic. There’s a true sense of authorship to the menu. I usually go with four people and we order every pasta on the menu. It’s prepared with care and proper technique—and always seasoned perfectly.” thecookeryrestaurant.com

Jesse Curtin
Jesse Curtin shares Italian food favorites.

Food Pro: Jesse Curtin, chef of Bimi’s Canteen in Chatham
Fave Spot: Lo Porto, Troy

“A classic, old-school Italian spot. It’s been around for over 50 years and I like that you always know what you’re going to get. No pretense, no gimmicks—just great Italian. Order the veal Parmesan.” loportostroy.com

Related: Live Green With This Zucchini Pasta and Mushrooms Recipe

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