Monterey in California is home to what was once referred to as ‘the greatest meeting of the land and the sea in the world.’ Its main attraction is Monterey Bay Aquarium. It serves as a window to marine life, so you can get up close and personal to penguins, jellyfish and sharks. It also has a large sea otter population. In fact, you can even meet some of these cute critters while doing some water sports like kayaking. If you’re not into the outdoors and prefer a more gustatory experience, then don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Monterey is also home to some of the best Italian cuisine in the state. Italian cuisine is so versatile; most people are familiar with pasta and pizza, but they often forget the risotto from Milan and the tortellini from Bologna. Keep reading to find out about the best Italian restaurants in Monterey, California and you’ll surely never go hungry!
1. Frutti De Mar Grill
Frutti De Mar Grill serves both North and South Italian cuisine. They’re one of the few restaurants where the food looks and tastes as good as it does in the photo! The restaurant may appear a little small from the outside, but it’s actually spacious, with high ceilings and broad booths on the inside. They take fresh ingredients from local markets to create the most delicious dishes like cannelloni with veal, vegetarian lasagna, and fettuccine alfredo. They’re available for private events, catering or business luncheons.
Frutti De Mar Grill
Address: 431 Tyler St Monterey, CA 93940
Website: Frutti De Mar Grill
Opening hours: 11am - 9pm (daily)
2. Louie Linguini's
There are not enough words to describe Louie Linguini’s skills. He’s an actor, an athlete, an adventurer and most recently, a restaurateur. It was his childhood dream to sell fish and he made it a reality. His namesake restaurant has a great atmosphere and even better food and service. Imagine sitting by the window, enjoying a great view of Monterey Bay while sipping wine and eating fettuccine alfredo. The portions are large enough that you can share them, so don’t hesitate to order more food! Some of the other dishes you need to check out include chicken farfalle, calamari, and the mozzarella cake.
Address: 660 Cannery Row Monterey, CA 93940
Website: Louie Linguini’s
Opening hours: 11am - 10pm (daily)
3. Café Fina
Café Fina is the embodiment of the saying ‘know how to catch a fish and cook it too!’ Dominic, who was brought up with the Sicilian style of cooking, has been in Monterey Bay since 1989 and knows the area like the back of his hand. This gives him the added advantage of knowing exactly where to get the best locally produced items from the wharf. He was the first to bring wood-burning ovens to the city. If you eat here, chances are that you’ll be able to enjoy the view of the harbour from any table in the restaurant. They have gluten-free options, are dog-friendly - complete with a dog menu - and import their wines from Napa.
Address: 47 Fishermans Wharf Ste 1 Monterey, CA 93940
Website: Café Fina
Opening hours: 11am - 9:30pm (daily)
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4. Palucca Trattoria
The chef of Palucca Trattoria was born in Sicily but grew up in Monterey. The restaurant itself has been around since 1970, but the owners took it over in 2000 and made it their own. In fact, the name ‘Palucca’ is a combination of the names of their sons. They pride themselves on making as much from scratch as possible, and for sourcing ingredients from local farmers’ markets. They even make their own handcrafted draught beer! An evening out on the porch, enjoying the sound of the waves is quite relaxing for the soul. Make sure you check out their renowned pesto calamari, smoked salmon sandwich and the Sicilian meatballs! Palucca Trattoria is also dog-friendly, so bring along your furry friend.
Address: 6D Old Fishermans Wharf Monterey, CA 93940
Website: Palucca Trattoria
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 11:30am - 4pm; Fri - Sat: 11:30am - 9pm; Sun: 11:30am - 8pm
5. Round Table Pizza
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Round Table Pizza, an ode to the Knights of the Round Table, is one of the first of its kind. Its humble beginnings go back to 1959, in Menlo Park California, where the founder brought inclusivity amongst a shared love for pizza to the area. Despite their long history, they never fail to keep things fresh and interesting. They’ve continued to enhance the original recipes they’ve been using since then, in order to build upon perfection. A lot of their dishes combine traditional concepts with modernity. Their chicken garlic pizza is exceptionally popular. Fast service and free Wifi are more reasons why you should pay them a visit!
Round Table Pizza
Address: 375 Alvarado St Monterey, CA 93940
Website: Round Table Pizza
Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 11am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 11pm
6. MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza
Midici’s Neapolitan Pizza is one of the few restaurants in the area to bring the original Italian Neapolitan pizza to Monterey. It’s a pizza-making style that originated in Naples that must be made with specific ingredients, including - but not limited to - San Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana. They use Italian flour, imported cheeses, and meat boards and combine them in a wood oven to bring these pizzas to life. The founders have created a place that is conducive to improving one-on-one interactions without the use of social media. That way, people come for the food but stay for the company. So, turn your phone off, take a seat under the stunning chandeliers and the real live tree inside the restaurant and live in the moment.
MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza
Address: 467 Alvarado St Monterey, CA 93940
Website: MidiCi Neapolitan Pizza
Opening hours: Sun - Mon: 11:30am - 9pm; Thu - Sat: 11:30am - 10pm
7. Gianni's Pizza
Gianni’s Pizza has been run by the same family for over four generations. In 1974, they bought out an old ice cream shop and converted it into a pizzeria. They owe their success to the secret family recipes that they brought over from Sicily. Although pizza is in the name and is their most popular dish, they also serve a variety of other options like pasta, calzones, Italian sandwiches, salads and gelato. They do have a bar, but you would have to order separately. If you’re an active member of the military, you’re entitled to a 15% discount, so use it wisely!
Address: 725 Lighthouse Ave Monterey, CA 93940
Website: Gianni’s Pizza
Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 3:30pm - 9:30pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 10:30pm; Sun: 11am - 9:30pm
8. Osteria Al Mare
Osteria Al Mare is Italian for ‘restaurant of the sea.’ Like many other Italian restaurants in the area, they use decades-old family recipes and modified it over time it to make the best out of the local ingredients. They also value the freshness of the dishes so they change the menu often based on the seasons and the availability of ingredients. Some of their popular dishes include the fritto di calamari, stinco di maiale alla birra (beer-braised pork shank) and pan-seared salmon. Sometimes, you might even find the owner interacting with patrons to ensure that the food is up to standard.
Osteria Al Mare
Address: 32 Cannery Row Monterey, CA 93940 United States
Website: Osteria Al Mare
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 11:30am - 2:30pm, 5pm - 9pm (closed on Mon)
Editor’s note: Establishment is permanently closed.
The creators of Tusca have combined age-old Italian recipes with locally grown Californian ingredients. It’s fitting then, that they’ve named the restaurant Tusca - a combination of Tuscany and California. Its part of Hyatt Regency, which means that you can eat delicious food while looking out onto the beautiful golf course. Some of their more popular dishes include the crab cake benedict and crab and artichoke omelette. The buffet is free for children under the age of five and they also have activities that they can enjoy after stuffing themselves full.
Address: 1 Old Golf Course Rd Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel Spa Monterey, CA 93940
Opening hours: 11:30am - 10pm (daily)
Cibo is the Italian word for food, but the people behind this restaurant want it to mean “a feast for the senses”. They don’t believe in food being a pure gustatory experience, and they’ve incorporated this sentiment into their meals and into the décor. The walls have been decorated with various forms of artwork like paintings and photography. There are also perfectly placed sculptures, and the air is filled with calming jazz music. Cibo has won several accolades, including the Monterey Herald Reader’s Choice Local Favorite and Best Italian Restaurant. If you go here either with family or on a romantic date, make sure you try their roasted tomato bruschetta which is out of this world.
Address: 301 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA 93940, United States
Opening hours: 4pm - 1:30am (daily)
Enjoy dining in Monterey
Whether you’re here for the food or for the sights, you’re sure to have your fill of fun. What did you think of these restaurants? Do let us know in the comments if you’ve checked them out!
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