Remember that scene in “Eat, Pray, Love” where Julia Roberts spends what seems like hours devouring a single plate of pasta? We’re not saying that you should hop a plane to Italy just to recreate that moment, but let’s be real: You should totally hop a plane to Italy just to recreate that moment. After all, not only does the allure of authentic carbonara have its own gravitational pull–we’re pretty sure that NASA’s been studying it for years–but the dish is also much preferable to that congealed mess of spaghetti from Uncle Joe’s Pizza Shack that’s sitting in your fridge. Need some help tracking down the best places to nosh once you’re on Italian soil? Here are five spots that will have you pushing the limits of your waistband, and loving it:
You’ll have to trek beyond the city center for this unsurprisingly elegant Giulio Terrinoni joint, but you’ve been meaning to dust off that sense of adventure anyway. Besides, once you get a taste of the seafood carbonara, you’ll be willing to hike 15 mountains for another taste. This is classic, refined Italian at its very best, and it balances ocean offerings with the kind of pasta that begs for a love letter or two. Ravioli, how we love thee. Let us count the ways.
Da Vincenzo, Positano
Even a handful of granola would feel like haute cuisine after a day sweating it out on the Amalfi trails, but don’t yank out that oat bar just yet. This family-owned restaurant on Positano’s western side is the stuff of which dreams are made, especially if your dreams are all about spaghetti with the freshest-ever ricotta. Is that just us? Anyway, the seasonal dishes here are beyond delicious, and it’s often regarded as one of the best spots in town. Talk about amazing humblebrag material.
Trattoria Da Mario, Florence
Mario’s may grace the pages of every guidebook known to man, but it’s one of those tourist favorites that totally lives up to the hype. Tucked behind the Mercato Centrale and focused on home-cooked Tuscan classics, this Florence treasure is a major must for lunch. Just get here early if you want to score a seat; the dining room is tiny, the menu changes daily, and locals line up out the door for the seasonal pastas.
Da Vittorio, Brusaporto
It’s a boutique hotel. It’s a cooking school. No, it’s a patisserie! Actually, it’s all of those things and an out-of-this-world eatery to boot. Hereby known as The Renaissance Man of Restaurants, this Michelin-starred icon has been serving up modern riffs on Italian classics for nearly 50 years, and we’re pretty sure that its white-truffle ravioli comes straight from the gods. Plus, if you get a little overzealous with the pasta, you can head upstairs to the hotel for a good ol’ carb nap. You really understand our needs, Da Vittorio.
Antica Hostaria Della Lanterna, Milan
We’ve got two words for you: homemade pasta. Though this unassuming trattoria near the Parco Delle Basiliche is the kind of place you might walk right past, you’d be missing out on some of Milan’s best eats. Book in advance to guarantee a seat, but show up with an open mind; there’s no written menu, and the restaurant’s enigmatic matriarch switches up the dishes daily. Just try everything. Seriously, you can’t go wrong.
With the freshest ingredients and tastiest flavors, these Italian restaurants serve up dishes that are worthy enough for the table of Zeus himself. Don’t worry about those pesky carbs and just enjoy some of the best pasta in Italy, if not the world.