25 Essential Old-School Italian Restaurants in Cleveland

These days it seems every chef and restaurant is always trying to one up each other to see who can serve the most bold dish. But sometimes we don't want fusion ... or even the chicest decor. We just wan't old-school, get-right-to-it spaghetti and meatballs and red-checker tablecloths.  These Italian joints offer the best old-school meals around Cleveland.

These days it seems every chef and restaurant is always trying to one up each other to see who can serve the boldest dish or the newest fusion of flavors. That's great, but sometimes we just want old-school, get-right-to-it spaghetti and meatballs and red-checker tablecloths.  These Italian joints offer the best old-school meals around Cleveland.

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 Bruno’s Ristorante
2644 West 41st St., Cleveland
Stepping into this cozy neighborhood ristorante – with its wooden bar, linoleum floors, and menu of pizza, pasta, and assorted parmigianas, cacciatores, and marsalas – is like traveling back in time to the days when Italian restaurateurs baked their own breads, made their own pastas, and served it all in charming, intimate spaces. Almost everything on the "full-meal deal" menu is delish. But when it comes to fried calamari and baked lasagna, Bruno's scores among the very best. 
Photo via Bruno’s Ristorante/Facebook

Bruno’s Ristorante

2644 West 41st St., Cleveland

Stepping into this cozy neighborhood ristorante – with its wooden bar, linoleum floors, and menu of pizza, pasta, and assorted parmigianas, cacciatores, and marsalas – is like traveling back in time to the days when Italian restaurateurs baked their own breads, made their own pastas, and served it all in charming, intimate spaces. Almost everything on the "full-meal deal" menu is delish. But when it comes to fried calamari and baked lasagna, Bruno's scores among the very best.

Photo via Bruno’s Ristorante/Facebook
 Michaelangelo’s
2198 Murray Hill Rd., Cleveland
Chef Michael Annandono's seasonal menu is built on luxurious ingredients. Whether it's the prosciutto-wrapped wild-boar chops, homemade veal-stuffed cannelloni, or tagliolini tossed in a ragout of duck, veal, and guinea fowl, the food transcends ordinary Italian while still having that traditional feel.
Photo via Michaelangelo’s/Facebook

Michaelangelo’s

2198 Murray Hill Rd., Cleveland

Chef Michael Annandono's seasonal menu is built on luxurious ingredients. Whether it's the prosciutto-wrapped wild-boar chops, homemade veal-stuffed cannelloni, or tagliolini tossed in a ragout of duck, veal, and guinea fowl, the food transcends ordinary Italian while still having that traditional feel.

Photo via Michaelangelo’s/Facebook
 D’Agnese’s
1100 West Royalton Rd., Broadview Heights
Head out to Broadview Heights and you won’t be disappointed. Italian food lovers swear by this place and it’s easy to see why. The Shrimp D’Agnese’s and the eggplant parmesan are real standouts here.
Photo via @JMVranic/Instagram

D’Agnese’s

1100 West Royalton Rd., Broadview Heights

Head out to Broadview Heights and you won’t be disappointed. Italian food lovers swear by this place and it’s easy to see why. The Shrimp D’Agnese’s and the eggplant parmesan are real standouts here.

Photo via @JMVranic/Instagram
 Aldo’s
8459 Memphis Ave., Cleveland
This place is so old school, they don’t even have a website. But it doesn’t matter, because the food is so good. This hidden gem, that only contains about 12 tables total, is located in Old Brooklyn. Start with the hot peppers and calamari and finish up with the linguini. 
Photo via Aldo’s Restaurant/Facebook

Aldo’s

8459 Memphis Ave., Cleveland

This place is so old school, they don’t even have a website. But it doesn’t matter, because the food is so good. This hidden gem, that only contains about 12 tables total, is located in Old Brooklyn. Start with the hot peppers and calamari and finish up with the linguini.

Photo via Aldo’s Restaurant/Facebook
 La Dolce Vita
12112 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland
The regulars at this Little Italy joint swear by it. You won’t catch them at any other Italian restaurant. The kitchen serves up homestyle Italian food; the staff offers even homier hospitality, and a quirky sense of fun plants tongue firmly in cheek. On live opera nights, a tenor spices-up an eight-course dinner served between musical interludes.
Photo via La Dolce Vita Cleveland/Facebook

La Dolce Vita

12112 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland

The regulars at this Little Italy joint swear by it. You won’t catch them at any other Italian restaurant. The kitchen serves up homestyle Italian food; the staff offers even homier hospitality, and a quirky sense of fun plants tongue firmly in cheek. On live opera nights, a tenor spices-up an eight-course dinner served between musical interludes.

Photo via La Dolce Vita Cleveland/Facebook
 Lockkeepers
8001 Rockside Rd., Valley View
One of the best Italian spots in town is located in a beautiful setting on the historic Erie Canal and Cuyahoga River. But the picturesque setting is hardly the only star of the show here. The veal chop parmigiano, sausage-stuffed peppers and seafood fra diavolo pasta are all to die for.
Photo via Lockkeepers/Facebook

Lockkeepers

8001 Rockside Rd., Valley View

One of the best Italian spots in town is located in a beautiful setting on the historic Erie Canal and Cuyahoga River. But the picturesque setting is hardly the only star of the show here. The veal chop parmigiano, sausage-stuffed peppers and seafood fra diavolo pasta are all to die for.

Photo via Lockkeepers/Facebook
 Angelo’s Nido Italia
12020 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland
No restaurant in town feels more like you’re stepping into the set of "The Godfather" than Little Italy’s Nido. The front, more modern bar leads into a banquet hall in the back, where you can just picture the wedding from the film taking place. And the chicken picatta is to die for. 
Photo via Mama Santa’s Pizzeria/Facebook

Angelo’s Nido Italia

12020 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland

No restaurant in town feels more like you’re stepping into the set of "The Godfather" than Little Italy’s Nido. The front, more modern bar leads into a banquet hall in the back, where you can just picture the wedding from the film taking place. And the chicken picatta is to die for.

Photo via Mama Santa’s Pizzeria/Facebook
 Trattoria
12207 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland
There’s so much good Italian in Little Italy that it’s easy to overlook a couple places. But don’t overlook Trattoria. The penne pasta arrabiata is perfect, the wine list is great and their patio is perfect for that cool summer evening that will eventually get here.
Photo via Trattoria Roman Gardens/Facebook

Trattoria

12207 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland

There’s so much good Italian in Little Italy that it’s easy to overlook a couple places. But don’t overlook Trattoria. The penne pasta arrabiata is perfect, the wine list is great and their patio is perfect for that cool summer evening that will eventually get here.

Photo via Trattoria Roman Gardens/Facebook
 Etna
11919 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland
This romantic, tightly packed Little Italy spot is one of the best Italian restaurants in town. A great wine list, authentic menu items and a dark ambience recalls the Old Country that created this remarkable cuisine.
Photo via Etna Ristorante/Facebook

Etna

11919 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland

This romantic, tightly packed Little Italy spot is one of the best Italian restaurants in town. A great wine list, authentic menu items and a dark ambience recalls the Old Country that created this remarkable cuisine.

Photo via Etna Ristorante/Facebook
 Scotti’s Italian Eatery
882 East 185th St., Cleveland
Opening in 1999 on E. 185 St., the spot is not only known for slinging high-quality pizzas and calzones, along with other Italian fare, but also for its cool oasis of an outdoor patio. Scotti's is definitely of the more underrated spots in town.
Photo via Scotti’s Italian Eatery/Facebook

Scotti’s Italian Eatery

882 East 185th St., Cleveland

Opening in 1999 on E. 185 St., the spot is not only known for slinging high-quality pizzas and calzones, along with other Italian fare, but also for its cool oasis of an outdoor patio. Scotti's is definitely of the more underrated spots in town.

Photo via Scotti’s Italian Eatery/Facebook