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Any visitor to Hilton Head Island will no doubt want to sample the seaside spot’s endless parade of spectacular fresh seafood restaurants—and with good reason. However, there is another side to the South Carolina gem’s cuisine scene that is often overlooked by visitors: HH’s plethora of deliciously authentic Italian restaurants.

And yes, Hilton Head’s seafood scene is tops and not to be missed. But it only takes a single visit to one of these authentic and welcoming eateries to see why the bustling beach town has gained a reputation for its Italy-inspired food niche that perennially pleases the palates of hungry locals and visiting beachgoers.

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Real Deal Italian At Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana

It’s not always easy to find authentic Italian cuisine, especially in a place that’s revered for its seafood—but Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana is the real deal. Fresh, authentic dishes, house-made pasta and desserts, and deliciously simple recipes hit all the right notes with offerings from every corner of Italy. Looking for something a little more casual? Then be sure to check out the adjacent Market Café, an Italian market, and trattoria that serves both lunch and dinner.

  • Address: Orleans Plaza, 37 New Orleans Road
  • Hours: Dinner served Monday through Saturday starting at 5 PM
  • Reservations: Yes, via OpenTable or by phone at 843-785-6272
  • Price: $$-$$$$
  • What To Try: Cozze al Marinara (Mussels Marinara); Sardi alla Sardignola (Stuffed Shells); Vitello alla Limone (Veal Scaloppine); Profiteroles (dessert)

Italy Meets South Carolina At Nunzio

Nunzio may be one of Hilton Head’s newest Italian restaurants, but their menu filled with both Southern Italian classics and modern, contemporary favorites is rapidly becoming a popular spot for both locals and visitors to indulge their taste for regional flavors. With an emphasis on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, Nunzio marries the flavors of South Carolina and Italy beautifully—and diners will revel in the restaurant’s upscale yet welcoming atmosphere that adds to the overall dining experience.

  • Address: 18 New Orleans Road
  • Hours: Open daily, Apéritif Happy Hour 4 PM-6 PM; Early Dining 4:30 PM-5:15 PM; Dinner from 4:30 PM
  • Reservations: Yes, via Resy or by phone at 843-715-2172
  • Price: $$-$$$$
  • What To Try: Carciofi Infarinati (Fried Artichoke Hearts); Gnocchi di Ricotta e Spinaci (Spinach & Ricotta Gnocchi); Milanese Costoletta (Veal Milanese); Bombato Cioccolato (dessert)

Elegance And Simplicity At Ombra Cucina Rustica

The elevated and award-winning Ombra Cucina Italiana is a local fave whose regional Italian cooking has won over diners who love their classic yet contemporary style. Local ingredients shine on a menu that’s both rustic and elegant, while the perfectly paired, curated wine list adds to an authentic and palate-pleasing dining experience.

  • Address: 1000 William Hilton Pkwy, G #2
  • Hours: Open daily 4:30 PM-10 PM
  • Reservations: Yes, via OpenTable or by phone at 843-842-5505
  • Price: $$$-$$$$
  • What To Try: Calamari Dorati (Fried Calamari); Orecchiette alla Baresi (Sausage, Broccoli Rabe); Pollo alla “Zingara” (Chicken, Wild Mushrooms); Panna Cotta alla Vaniglia (Dessert)

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Pomodori Italian Eatery Is Comfort Food At Its Best

Warm, intimate, and inviting, Pomodori Italian Eatery is Southern Italian dining at its best, with dishes inspired by traditional Calabrian favorites. Housemade sauces, tagliatelle, gnocchi, and sausages dot the delish menu, while Hilton Head’s reputation for fresh seafood shines through with a selection of classic fish faves. Comfort food that’s hearty and homey; welcoming, family-friendly vibes; and an eclectic wine list complete Pomodori’s thoughtful Italian eatery.

  • Address: 1 New Orleans Road
  • Hours: Open Monday through Saturday at 5 PM; Closed Sundays
  • Reservations: Yes, via OpenTable or by phone at 843-686-3100. Pomodori recommends that patrons make reservations at least two to three weeks in advance
  • Price: $$-$$$
  • What To Try: Arancini (Rice Balls); Ravioli Di Casa with side of Polpette (House Made Meatballs); Chicken Parmigiana; House Made Cannoli (Dessert)

Stellini Italian Restaurant: A Hilton Head Classic

Celebrating 32 years of serving up hearty and delicious Italian faves, the Hilton Head mainstay Stellini Italian Restaurant is the genuine article—a proud heritage and history combined with a passion for serving up the classics; no frills, just authentic dishes made from the heart. The type of place whose food sticks to your ribs and whose ambiance makes you feel at home, Stellini will charm any diner looking for a laid-back yet sumptuous Italian meal.

  • Address:
  • Hours: Open Monday through Saturday at 5 PM; Closed Sundays
  • Reservations: Strongly recommended; call 843-785-7006
  • Price: $$-$$$$
  • What To Try: Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs; Rigatoni Bolognese; Veal Saltimbocca; Zuppa di Pesce; Tiramisu (Dessert)

A Bella Italia Pizza Party

Any list of Hilton Head Italian faves would be incomplete without a yummy place to get a great pie—and Bella Italia Pizza certainly fits the bill. Handmade, NY-style crust is the base for an out-of-this-world specialty pizza selection that wows (best of all, Bella Italia has a great gluten-free pizza menu and a cauliflower crust pie, too!) And while pizza is definitely the star of the show, this casual, delish eatery also serves up a bevy of hearty, tried-and-true Italian dishes, sandwiches, subs, and desserts. *Bella Italia is pick-up and delivery only*

  • Address: 95 Mathews Drive
  • Hours: Open for delivery Monday through Thursday and Sundays 4:30 PM-8:45 PM; Friday & Saturday 4 PM-9 PM; pickup hours vary, see website for more info
  • Reservations: N/A
  • Price: $$-$$$
  • What To Try: Margherita Thin Pizza; Uncle Peter’s Cheese Pizza; Gluten Free Lotza Meat Pizza; Bella Regina White Pizza

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Hilton Head’s parade of delightfully authentic Italian eateries has carved out a delicious niche for itself among a cuisine scene more traditionally known for its fresh fish and seafood offerings. And there’s no shortage of delicious spots to choose from and something on the menu to please every palate—from family-owned classics to upscale, elevated dining; delish pizza to Southern Italian faves, Hilton Head’s myriad of Italian classics will please any foodie looking to add a bit of Bella Italia to their restaurant itinerary this summer.