Best Italian Restaurant

Readers' Pick

Mamma ’Zu

501 S. Pine St.
788-4205

Second Place: Edo’s Squid

Third Place: Deco

Before there was Mamma ’Zu, if you weren’t a college student at Virginia Commonwealth University, you’d probably never set foot in Oregon Hill. Once the restaurant opened, this working-class neighborhood suddenly saw Virginia governors, big-time food writers and even a celebrity or two parking by the cracked sidewalks and going through the swinging screen door to do some serious eating. Unabashedly Italian-American, Mamma ’Zu is awash in red sauce and redolent of garlic. Hit the place early — it’s been filling up every night for 23 years. Owner Ed Vasaio also is the co-owner, with Brad Wein, of second-place finisher Edo’s Squid. Taking over the first Stella’s space, this is the more seafood-driven and sophisticated version of Mamma ’Zu. Deco won an Elby Award for best new restaurant in 2013, and with an iron-railed patio, it’s the place to eat your pasta under the night sky.

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