BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT
Bar La Grassa
We have so many standbys and old favorites when it comes to Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities, those run by the Broders, the D'Amicos, the Marchiondas, and Jon Hunt among them. Most have become instant classics: The food is consistently good and makes for reliable family meals, date nights, and business dinners. But local Italian cuisine had struggled a bit to feel fresh until the recent arrival of La Grassa. Inside its spacious but jam-packed Warehouse District digs, the chic architecture and art give the room a heady buzz of urban living. This is a place where diners put a little more effort into their looks, slicking their hair or painting their lips Target red. Take your big-city guests here to convince them that not everyone in Minnesota could have been cast as an extra in Fargo. Chef Isaac Becker and his wife, Nancy St. Pierre, run the restaurant with the same casual sophistication of their beloved 112 Eatery. Start with one of the dazzling bruschetta—marinated mushrooms, scrambled eggs and lobster, silky burrata with chili oil—before you move into the feather-light fettucini alfredo or the creamy gnocchi nubs with caramelized cauliflower and orange, which is the best bowl of gnocchi in the state, by the way. You also can't go wrong with the pork ribs or the skate, but just be sure to save room for dessert, particularly if they're serving the caramel crepes or the lemon-lavender mousse.