Mamma Maria, Boston
Boston’s North End might be home to English-style architecture, but the area also known as Little Italy is filled with Italian-owned businesses, including a superb selection of restaurants. Mamma Maria is consistently praised for its food, service and atmosphere and is the only Italian restaurant in the city to receive a Four Diamond Rating by the AAA Travel Guide. Situated in a 19th-century townhouse, the rooms have a homely yet luxurious feel, while the menu changes seasonally, featuring dishes made from locally produced ingredients.
Trattoria Contadina, San Francisco
Looking for a classic, unpretentious Italian restaurant? Trattoria Contadina is regarded as one of the best on the West Coast. They offer a well-priced menu with the option to either dine in or take out, and there’s even a happy hour each evening before 6 p.m. Guests can choose from a wide selection of pasta and other traditional dishes for their main course and accompany the meal with a glass of organic wine. The business belongs to the Correnti family and is now run by the grandson of the original owner, who founded it over 30 years ago.
Irene’s Cuisine, New Orleans
This elegant eatery in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter serves Italian food, Southern style. Their dishes take inspiration from both Italian and Creole cooking, and the results are as delicious as you would expect. In a city known for its food, Irene’s stands out not only for its menu, including salads, seafood and meat dishes, but also its high standard of service. The friendly staff ensure the upmarket restaurant retains a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere, perfect to enjoy a meal with family or friends.
Scarpetta, New York
New York is known for its pizza, but there’s much more to its Italian dining scene than grabbing a quick, greasy slice. Scarpetta provides a sophisticated Italian experience in a stylish, modern space. However, unlike the stereotypical trendy city hotspot, the portions are generous and the menu offers all your favorite traditional dishes. In fact, Scarpetta first became known for its spaghetti. The restaurant is located in the artsy, upmarket area of Chelsea, so you can take in some galleries or hit the fashion stores before you eat.
Davanti Enoteca, San Diego
Like Boston, San Diego also has an area named Little Italy, and it’s filled with great places to eat, no matter your tastes or budget. One of the best known restaurants is Davanti Enoteca, which is stylishly rustic and offers brunch (including a Bloody Mary bar) and lunch in addition to its dinner menu. The owner, Scott Harris, is the head chef, so you know this place is really run by a food lover. It has been featured in the press regularly as one of the country’s best Italian restaurants yet remains a small business, loved by San Diego locals and the visitors lucky enough to discover it.
Brandon Vallorani is a practiced entrepreneur and accomplished CEO, author of The Wolves and the Mandolin (ForbesBooks; 2017), and third generation Italian-American.
Founder of a media conglomerate recognized on the Inc. 5000 for five consecutive years, Brandon sold to a colleague in the business, and has more recently shifted focus to his other entrepreneurial endeavors.
Vallorani graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, and began his career in the non-profit sector. He quickly rose through the ranks to become Executive Vice President in a few short years, simultaneously earning his Master of Business Administration from Thomas More College.
He lives in Metro-Atlanta, with his wife with whom he shares seven children, a son-in-law, and a grandson. In his free time, Brandon enjoys playing in casinos around the country, his three dogs, and learning Italian.