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That’s Amoré: The 10 Hottest Italian Restaurant Chains in 2023

There are so many different Italian restaurants across the U.S., but which franchises provide some of the most authentic Italian cuisines?

By Jeff DwyerStaff Writer
7:07AM 05/09/23

There are very few things that sound as appetizing as a night out at an Italian restaurant, especially if you don’t feel like cooking. With offerings like pasta, pizza, garlic bread or a glass of fine wine, Italian restaurants have become a staple in the American culinary industry. To back that up, music icon Billy Joel even wrote an entire song centered around an Italian restaurant.

While we all have our own favorite Italian restaurant spots, we here at have put together a list (in no particular order) of what we believe are the top 10 hottest Italian restaurant franchises based in the U.S. in 2023.

Units: 220+
Startup Costs: $783,500 to $2,328,500

Fazoli’s was first opened in 1988 in Lexington, Kentucky. It has grown to more than 220 locations in approximately 27 states. The majority of their restaurants can be found scattered across the Midwest and the Southeast. Fazoli’s prides itself on offering premium quality Italian food, alongside their beloved garlic bread sticks that are served fast and fresh by a friendly staff.  

Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse
Units: 10+
Startup Costs: $1,275,000 to $4,000,000

Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse first opened its doors in Des Moines, Iowa in 2002 and has been franchising for more than a decade. The franchise offers an upscale dining experience at a more affordable rate than many fine-dining establishments. The restaurant’s go-to menu offerings are its steaks paired with a cocktail or glass of wine. The restaurant stands out among many other traditional Italian eateries, as its atmosphere is somewhat reminiscent of a ‘40s nightclub with modern upgrades.

Russo’s New York Pizzeria
Units: 36
Startup Costs: $295,000 to $750,000

Russo’s New York Pizzeria has become a leader in the saturated New York-style pizza category. The concept was founded in 1994 by chef Anthony Russo, who is the son of Italian immigrants. Russo had run a restaurant with his family for years before finally decided to go off on his own. In addition to its pizzas, Russo’s also serves authentic Italian food crafted from family recipes. Nearly 30 years later, Russo’s has expanded, and now even has locations open in the United Arab Emirates, in places such as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Samuel Mancino’s Italian Eatery
Units: 30
Startup Costs: $133,500 to $321,500

The Samuel Mancino brand name has been around since the 1930s when Samuel Mancino Sr. first established a successful Pizza and Grinder Shop. Today, that concept has grown into a successful Italian eatery that still uses many of the foundations that Mancino Sr. first put in place. With its famous oven-baked meat grinders and welcoming environment, Samuel Mancino’s has made a name for itself among the Italian culinary market. The brand offers a fast-casual experience in addition to being a full-service restaurant. It’s a great spot for lunch or dinner. It’s currently available in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Florida.

Paciugo Gelato Caffé
Units: 26
Startup Costs: $232,700 to $522,250

Paciugo Gelato Caffe was first established in 1999 by founder Ugo Ginatta. Ginatta was born into a family of restaurateurs from Turin, Italy. After moving to America, he decided to share his love of Italian cuisine with the world, and as such, Paciugo was born. The franchise offers everything from Paciugo’s famous gelato, shakes, smoothies, coffees, lattes and more. The brand also has its own line of branded gelato that can be purchased online.

Buca di Beppo
Units: 90+
Startup Costs: Contact Buca di Beppo’s corporate team for more information about franchising opportunities. 

Buca di Beppo is an Italian restaurant franchise that specializes in classic Italian-American dishes such as pasta, pizza, and meatballs. The restaurant’s name translates to “Joe’s Basement” in Italian. The restaurant is based in Orlando, Florida and was founded in 1993, and has expanded to locations throughout the world. As of 2023, there are more than 90 franchise locations, with 86 being company-owned, five franchises in the UK, and another franchised location in Mexico. 

Units: 25+
Startup Costs: Not currently offering franchise opportunities

Bertucci’s is an Italian-themed restaurant that offers brick oven pizza and other classic Italian-American dishes. The company was founded in 1981 by Joey Crugnale in Somerville, Massachusetts. Since its inception, Bertucci’s has grown to over 50 locations across the U.S., primarily in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. While the majority of Bertucci’s restaurants are company-owned, there are a number of franchised locations operating in parts of the United States.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill
Units: 40
Startup Costs: Contact Romano’s Macaroni Grill for more information

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is a casual Italian-themed restaurant that offers classic dishes like pasta, seafood, chicken, and more. The first location was opened in Leon Springs, Texas in 1988. Romano’s atmosphere is designed to evoke the feeling of an Italian trattoria, and many of the restaurants feature an open kitchen concept. 

Villa Italian Kitchen
Units: 250+
Startup Costs: $296,950 to $894,000

Villa Italian Kitchen is a quick-service pizza franchise that specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza and other Italian-American cuisine. The company was founded in 1964 in New York City by Michele Scotto, and it has since expanded to over 250 locations worldwide, including in the U.S. and Canada. 

NYPD Pizza 
Startup Costs: $394,160 to $896,700

NYPD Pizza is a pizza restaurant chain that was founded in 1996 in Orlando, Florida. The name stands for New York Pizza Delivery, and the franchise’s goal is to serve authentic New York-style pizza to customers across the U.S. The menu features a variety of classic and gourmet pizzas, as well as salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes. 

There you have it. Ten of the hottest Italian restaurants will have you singing like Dean Martin once you’ve finished your meal. And wherever you do choose to get your Italian fix, buon appetito!