Editor's Pick: 15 of our favorite Italian Restaurants in the U.S.!

No matter where you live in these United States, a taste of Italy is never far away. From a local pizza place to a high-end restaurant, it's easy to sample the varied cuisine of a country that knows allllll about food.

As Italian immigrants began arriving in America in the late 19th century, they inspired recipes like Chicken Tetrazini (created in honor of opera star Luisa Tetrazini). After WWII, American soldiers returning home helped spur the popularity of foods like pizza, baked ziti and lasagna that they'd enjoyed while overseas.

In recent decades, Italian food in America has gotten a makeover, as chefs like Mario Battali and Giada De Laurentis, demonstrate that it's not all baked cheese and red sauce. While there are tons of Italian restaurants out there, these fifteen will make you want to pull up a chair and "mangia" (chow down). Buon appetito!

1. Al Forno, Providence, RI

Since opening in 1980, the restaurant's knowledge of truly authentic Italian cuisine earned chefs George Germon and Johanne Killeen a prestigious award from the Italian government. Oh, and they invented the grilled pizza.

2. Sportello, Boston, MA

The word "sportello" roughly translates as "counter service" - and this is how the restaurant rolls. The space is set up almost like a diner, with a large counter that allows a peek into the kitchen (actually, that's most of the seating in the place). Their pasta dishes keep customers coming back: the gnocchi is practically a legend.

3. Babbo's, New York, NY

It achieved legendary status almost from the moment Mario Batali opened it in 1998. Since then, reservations are still challenging to come by - mainly because their pasta will change your life.

4. Locanda Verde, New York, NY

Actor Robert DeNiro has long kept a hand in the New York City restaurant biz - and this is his current property. The food is famous for being "shareable" among a table - such as their ravioli or sheep's milk ricotta. And their desserts - like the brown-butter plum cake -also win raves.

5. Chef Vola's, Atlantic City, NJ

Tucked away from the flash of the casinos is this beloved institution (1921). It's cash-only and BYOB, and because it looks something like your Nonna's house, kind of hard to find. But the Veal Parm on the Bone is worth the hunt.

6. Vetri, Philadelphia, PA

Housed in a cozy brownstone, this upscale restaurant was recently named the best Italian restaurant in the entire country (by TimeOut magazine). Make sure you wear elastic-waist pants, because few get away with less than eight courses (fortunately, they're small).

7. Fiola Mare, Washington, DC

Local magazines have rated this place the #1 Italian restaurant in the city - and with good reason. Not only do they have the pasta/antipasta thing down, their seafood dishes are equally superb. And everyone knows to save room for Bomboloni: small donuts stuffed with ricotta cheese.

8. Spiaggia, Chicago, IL

It's the only four-star Italian restaurant in the Windy City, a reputation earned over three decades of great, creative food. Their "tasting menus," (and they have a version for dessert, too) are legendary.

9. Trattoria Marcella, St. Louis, MO

Since opening in 1995, its earned tons of praise from the likes of Zagat's, Gourmet and Wine Spectator magazines. Their toasted ravioli is just one of the many reasons people return for another serving of what they term Italian "soul food."

10. Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, Memphis, TN

Two childhood friends combined their shared history of having had awesome Italian grandmother-cooks while growing up. They've upped the game, however, by incorporating truly Southern touches - like gnocchi with hamhock.

11. Domenica, New Orleans, LA

For a city so associated with Creole cuisine, this place is truly impressive in the Italian department. It's perhaps best known for its creative pizzas, where the Southern vibe still manages to sneak its way in (peaches, pecans and gorgonzola on top, anyone?)

12. Da Marco, Houston, TX

In a state better known for rib-eye steak or chili, this restaurant takes top honors as one of the best Italian places in Texas. Their meat and fish dishes rank high, but their pasta is really what makes them stand out: depending on the season, they incorporate either white or black truffles.

13. Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, CO

The menu changes seasonally (in a nod to the Friuli region of Italy), and relies on local purveyors. This established favorite is considered one of the best Italian restaurants in the state - or anywhere, for that matter. Their wine list is award winning.

14. SPQR/San Francisco, CA

True "foodies" love a spot at the "Chef's Counter," where they can watch them work their magic. The restaurant has earned a coveted Michelin "star" - one reason the menu is pricey. But fans of upscale Italian cuisine need to eat here at least once in their life.

15. Angelini Osteria, Los Angeles, CA

In the middle of hipster LA lies this unassuming, no-frills place. Devotees of the kind of cooking made famous by generations of Italian grandmothers line up for the signature dish, Lasagna Verde, as prepared by chef Gino Angelini.

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