Five Best Italian Restaurants in Asheville—A Local’s Perspective

This week, a blast of snow blocked out the sun for some forty-odd hours, flinging the region into a wintry wonderland of unprecedented proportion. And the snow happened to coincide with Christmas. The festivity, I assure you, was greatly enhanced.


But despite all this, there remains the problem of temperature: it is cold. Not too cold, but cold enough that my thoughts are turned inevitably towards the subject of hot meals and exorbitant, pre-hibernation caloric absorption. To that end let me ask you, what is warmer and more fattening than Italian food?


That’s a rhetorical question. This week we’re talking about the five best spots for Italian food in Asheville.


1: Strada Italiano

To start off, lets jump straight into the heart of Italian food in Asheville and by heart, I mean downtown. Any sufficiently populous urban center hosts a smorgasbord of every kind of ethnic fare, but Strada rises above its rival Italian restaurants in Asheville by virtue of location.


In short: Strada has covered rooftop dining and lies just north of the city’s center. Paired with the restaurant’s upscale fare (grilled salmon carciofino, vegan lasagna, etc.), Strada lies among my top picks for fine late-night dining or open-air Sunday brunch. If you should choose the former option, I recommend concluding your downtown dining experience with desert at Old Europe, just a short walk to the south.


Parking: As they say in Italy, “Non so cosa stai dicendo,” which roughly translated means “To dine, one must first enter the car into the stable.” Luckily, Strada lies right next door to a paid parking lot. If you find it filled up, the Civic Center parking garage offers an excellent alternative, just to the west.


2: Chiesa

Chiesa lies north of downtown’s main hustle-and-bustle on a quiet, residential stretch of Montford Avenue. Located in a former church, Chiesa blends seamlessly into this peaceful environment, lending this purveyor of Italian food in Asheville a distinctly “neighborhood” feel.

That said, the menu would fit in at one of downtown’s busiest establishments. Chiesa offers mix-and-match pasta alongside house specials, and weekly selections of fish and ravioli (served separately, one presumes).


On top of all this, Chiesa takes care to provide vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, making it one of the rare Italian restaurants in Asheville—nay, the universe—to do so. After all, as I understand it, meat, cheese, and pasta are the three branches of Italian government.

Parking: Chiesa has some parking out back. Otherwise, you’ll have to find a street-side spot, preferably without blocking anyone’s mailbox.


3: Cucina 24

This Italian restaurant in Asheville lies on Wall Street, not a far walk from the Grove Arcade, and all the pleasures therein. I heartily suggest adding Cucina to any designs you have for the Grove Arcade, as it appeals to my own dearest desires: to pretend I’m fabulously rich and to eat surprising things. Let me explain.


Cucina sources its ingredients locally, and serves Italian food with Southern flare, a combination I have not seen elsewhere. Meals are served in four courses, family-style, off daily menus which read like spoken word poems. And I quote:


“12-27-20/

Grissini/

Castelvetrano olives/

Prosciutto di parma/

Baccala and potato fritters.”


Tres chic. I recommend reservations, an open mind, and money to spare.


Parking: At the Grove Arcade, of course.


4: Pomodoro’s Café

Technically, Pomodoro’s is a combined Greek-and-Italian restaurant but when it comes to Italian food in Asheville, I embrace culinary fusion. Its easy to understand why, as with a menu ranging from gyros to lasagna to moussaka, there is plenty variety at hand.


In particular though, I am a fan of their pizzas. Thin-crusts with flavorful sauce and fresh vegetables; I devour roughly one a week. With locations both in my native south Asheville and the farther-flung east (incidentally, near the Nature Center), one should have twice as many opportunities to visit this Italian restaurant in Asheville.


Parking: Rejoice: we have left the parking-struggle of downtown for the vast, open fields of suburbia.


5: Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian

Lying just north of downtown, near the Omni Grove Park Inn and ice-cream at The Hop, Vinnie’s is a local favorite, and you’ll soon learn why. They serve up the New-York-style Italian many of us were raised with: rich sauces, plentiful noodles, and garlic knots as far as the eye can see.


Frankly, for my money, they’ve got the best pasta in town, and their “Goombah Club” rewards frequent diners with free appetizers, entrees, etc. Well worth it, even if becoming a “Goombah” in name may prove confusing when one must deal with the Italian mob.

If you plan on staying in town for a while, I strongly suggest making Vinnie’s your go-to for Italian food in Asheville.


Parking: Parking spaces! Parking spaces for free! Its superb, its delightful. It’s enough to make a grown man cry.


Businesses Mentioned

Strada Italiano

(828)-348-8448

27 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801

Chiesa

(828)-552-3110

152 Montford Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Cucina 24

(828)-254-6170

24 Wall St, Asheville, NC 28801

Pomodoro's Café (South)

(828)-687-3884

75 Long Shoals Rd, Asheville, NC 28803

Vinnie's Neighborhood Italian

(828)-253-1077

641 Merrimon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804

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