While visiting Pensacola, you could be forgiven for mistaking the salty breeze of the Gulf of Mexico with a gust from the Mediterranean if you happen to be dining at one of our many authentic and fun Italian eateries.
From old world family dining to remarkable take-out pizza, here are some of the best ristorantes in Pensacola:
Bonelli’s Café Italia, 1217 N 9th Ave Pensacola
For nearly 20 years, the Bonelli family has been serving up authentic, old-world style Italian fare. The offerings are traditional, ranging from lasagna to chicken parmesan to baked rigatoni.
Many dishes at Bonelli’s are named after members of the family. Mama Pris’s Shrimp Scampi is named for the matriarch of the family who still puts in her time in the kitchen. Nico’s Greek Salad, Sal’s Saucy Shrimp and Vito’s Homemade Pesto all represent the family.
Bonelli’s has grown beyond the intimate indoor setting it started as, recently adding a beautiful large back deck. The fire feature on the deck is especially comfy on Pensacola’s seasonally cool nights.
Lillian’s Pizza, 14514 Perdido Key Dr, Perdido Key
With dough that’s made fresh every day, pizza is definitely the star of the show at Lillian’s. And the menu is not afraid to venture into non-traditional territory like Kansas City BBQ chicken, taco pizza and hot Hawaiian pizza. An extensive listing of toppings and sauces allows diners to construct their own pizza creations.
Taking advantage of that fresh dough, Lillian’s also offers a variety of strombolis and calzones. The menu also includes pasta, sandwiches, salads and quesadillas.
Lillian’s Pizza has been serving the visitors and residents of the Perdido Key community since 1989.
V Paul’s Italian Ristorante, 29 Palafox Pl, Downtown Pensacola
The finest of fine Italian dining in Pensacola, V Paul’s is located in the heart of the downtown entertainment district. It’s the perfect place for dessert after a night of browsing the galleries on Palafox or for a quality dinner before a show at the nearby Saenger Theatre.
While the menu at V Paul’s certainly includes the classics like spaghetti with meatballs and fettuccini alfredo, it also features a broader selection of Italian foods like venison cannelloni and grilled octopus.
Tuscan Oven, 4801 N. 9th Ave., Pensacola
It’s hard to get more authentically Italian than Tuscan Oven. The dining room centered around a two-ton, 500-degree, hardwood-fired oven made of clay, brick and pumice that was imported from Italy. Sitting at the bar, dinners watch the pizza chefs do their thing.
As impressive as the oven is, the food is the focus. Tuscan Oven offers the original pizza, made with tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil – red, white and green, the colors of the Italian flag. Irresistible Italian topping options include capicola ham, artichokes, Prosciutto, calamari and more. In addition to pizza, the menu offers variety of Italian fares, like linguini with clams, Caprese salad and hand-rolled meatballs.
Papa’s Pizza, 400 Quietwater Beach Blvd, Pensacola Beach
Whether you want a slice to eat while you’re at the beach or a whole pizza to take back to your hotel room, Papa’s Pizza is the undisputed king of pizza on Pensacola Beach. Papa’s specializes in thin-crusted New York-style pizza and thick-crusted Sicilian.
Papa’s menu includes a fun “celebrity pizza” section, where pies are named after famous Italians. The Frank Sinatra includes sausage, pepperoni, ham, beef, onions, mushrooms, green peppers and black olives, while the Joe Pesci features feta, sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts.
The menu at Papa’s also includes pasta, strombolis, calzones, stuffed pizza and anti-pasta.
New Yorker Deli & Pizzeria, 3001 E Cervantes St, Pensacola
Everybody knows that New York is one of the most Italian cities in the world, and New Yorker Deli and Pizzeria brings that aspect of the Big Apple to Pensacola. In addition to a wide selection of pizzas, the menu includes all the traditional ristorante standards like spaghetti, chicken fettuccine and eggplant parmesan. However, it also offers more surprising options like spinach and walnut ravioli, cold gazpacho and an appetizer called “pomifeta” – seasoned tomato and feta cheese piled on thick-sliced toast.
On top of the pizza and other Italian food, the New Yorker also offers a broad selection of deli meats and cheeses in hot and cold sandwiches, tons of fresh and prepared salads and soups.
Founaris Bros, 6911 Pensacola Blvd, Pensacola
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Founaris Bros. has been a Pensacola institution – and locals’ favorite – since the early 1980s. A mix of traditional Italian and Greek food, the portions here are quite generous. The menu ranges from subs and pizzas to specialty pasta, like the manicotti of the day.
Thanks to the Greek influence here, the menu also offers treats like gyros, moussaka and spanakopita. Of course, as a restaurant in America, there are always interesting cultural mashups. At Founaris, diners may dip their beer battered onion rings into traditional Greek tzatziki sauce. Yum!
Coming Soon: Angelena’s in Downtown Pensacola
Downtown has been buzzing with excitement since Food Network star and Pensacola native James Briscione announced that he and his wife, Brooke Parkhurst, would be opening an authentic italiano ristorante in early 2019.
Set to open across the street from Southtown Apartments, this will be a sister restaurant to some of the most recognizable restaurants in town, including Jackson’s Steakhouse, the Fish House and Atlas Oyster House, all among the properties owned Great Southern Restaurants.
Diners can expect the menu to creatively blend the classic dishes of Italy with Gulf seafood, Southern produce and locally sourced meats, woodfired pizza, baked pasta, whole-roasted fish and more.