★ Best of the Springs winner
$................ $12 or less
$$$$.......... $30 and up
BAMBINO'S ITALIAN EATERY AND CATERING CO. - 2849 E. Platte Ave., 630-8121, bambinospizza.com $$
Offers popular lunch and dinner buffets, thin-crust pizza and good pasta.
BELLA PANINI - 4 Colorado 105, Palmer Lake, 481-3244, bellapanini.com $$ ★ ▲
Noted for its chicken saltimbocca, Bella Panini also offers pizza, pasta and paninis and a great wine selection. Many gluten-free items are available.
BIAGGI'S RISTORANTE ITALIANO - 1805 Briargate Parkway, 262-9500, biaggis.com $$$
This Midwestern chain offers a popular half-and-half lunch combination and is consistently lauded for its quiet atmosphere and superb service.
BILLY'S OLD WORLD PIZZA - 308 S. 8th St., Suite E, 630-3400, billysoldworldpizza.com $
The Italian buffet is a go-to place for the lunch crowd, and the stone-baked, Chicago-style pizzas feature ingredients all made in-house, including house-ground meats and housemade mozzarella.
BORRIELLO BROTHERS - Eight locations, 884-2020, borriellobrothers.com $$ ★
Consistently fresh, hand-tossed New York-style pizza pies and calzones as close to Brooklyn as it gets.
DAT'S ITALIAN - 2514 W. Colorado Ave., 632-3287, datsitalian.com $ ☀
Known for its lasagne, it has good Italian food and great daily specials. It's doggie and kid friendly and has a lovely back patio and live music.
EXTREME PIZZA - 2130 Southgate Road, Suite 108, 634-1616; 7340 N. Academy Blvd., 522-1515; extremepizza.com $$ ☀
Offers a variety of hand-crafted pizzas, calzones, subs and salads, including gluten-free and vegetarian options.
FARGO'S PIZZA CO. - 2910 E. Platte Ave., 473-5540, fargospizza.com $$
With a Western theme and a magic mirror that tells you when your order's up, this is a kid's nirvana. It offers pizza, sandwiches and a salad bar.
FRATELLI RISTORANTE ITALIANO - 124 N. Nevada Ave., 575-9571, fratelliristorante.com $$ ☀
Italian fine dining in the heart of downtown. It offers a medley of traditional northern and southern Italian dishes. Impressive wine and cocktail menu.
MB'S PICK: IL VICINO - 11 S. Tejon St., 475-9224; 5214 N. Nevada Ave., 590-8633; ilvicino.com $ ▲ ☀
With a great variety of wood-fired pizzas, plus a few sandwiches, salads and pastas, this could easily become your family's new favorite pizza joint. The pizzas are individual-sized, but most of the other dishes are big enough to share. All the food we tried was excellent, and it hits that elusive restaurant chord that makes it perfect for families, business lunches, dates or just meeting a friend.
Dishes not to miss: The Melanzane ($8.50) and calzones ($8.50-$9.25).
JOEY'S PIZZA - 1829 Briargate Blvd., 265-6922, joeysnypizza.net $ ☀
Authentic New York-style pizza, strombolis and calzones, right here in the Springs. Fans say it's a gem of a pizzeria.
LA BELLA VITA RISTORANTE - 4475 Northpark Drive, 260-4730, labellavitaristorante.net $$$$
In this sophisticated space, you will be greeted with true Italian food by the restaurant's Italian owners. It starts with homemade pasta and keeps getting better.
LEON GESSI NEW YORK PIZZA - 1806 Palmer Park Blvd., 635-1542, leongessipizza.com $
A longtime favorite for local pizza lovers, you can relax and feel like part of the family here. The menu includes all the staples, pizza, subs and a kid's menu.
LOUIE'S PIZZA - 5 locations, louies-pizza.com $ ★
For a lot of people, when you say pizza, you mean Louie's. You'll find all the favorites here, including calzones, pasta, pizza subs, Dyno Wings and even a dessert pizza.
LUIGI'S RESTAURANT - 947 S. Tejon St., 632-7339, luigiscoloradosprings.com $$
Family-owned dinner destination since 1958, with casual, cozy family dining.
MARCO'S PIZZA - 9420 Briar Village Point, 434-3773; 4492 Austin Bluffs Parkway, 203-3599; marcos.com $ ▲ ☀
Fans from all over are familiar with Marco's consistently good food and affordable prices. Briar Village has an expansive patio with an impressive view.
MARILYN'S HOUSE OF FINE PIZZA - 964 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9104 $
She married Joe DiMaggio, so there's kind of a connection between Marilyn Monroe and Italian food. Even if there weren't, Marilyn's is worth checking out. It specializes in creative toppings and a balance of ingredients.
MOLLICA'S ITALIAN MARKET & DELI - 985 Garden of the Gods Road, Suite A, 598-1088, mollicasitalianmarket.com $$ ★
Founded in 1987 by the Mollicas, the restaurant-market produces traditional Italian dishes, handed down through generations, including delicious desserts.
PANINO'S - 604 N. Tejon St., 635-7452; 1721 S. 8th St., 635-1188; paninos.com $
These two venerable neighborhood eateries excel in no-nonsense food, good prices and daily specials. Try the eggplant parmesan.
PARAVICINI'S ITALIAN BISTRO - 2802 W. Colorado Ave., 471-8200, paravicinis.com $$ ★
Neighborhood spot serves solid fare with flair, with family-style menu and a good wine list. Try the Calamari Fritti and Salmon Jennette.
PIZZERIA RUSTICA - 2527 W. Colorado Ave., 632-8121, pizzeriarustica.com $$ ☀
It may feel like an old neighborhood trattoria in Italy, but Rustica uses locally grown ingredients whenever possible. The service is friendly and knowledgeable. Check out the daily specials. It also offers vegetarian and gluten-free options. The pizza's good, but be sure to try the antipasti platter.
MB'S PICK: ROCCO'S - 3878 Maizeland Road, 3802 Maizeland Road, 574-1426, roccoscolorado.com $$
Rocco's is a cheerful, family restaurant with a menu of Italian-American standards and some surprisingly diverse specials, including pan-seared ostrich and the grilled quail and wild boar sausage. The brick walls, padded booths and red-checked tablecloths may say "kitsch" to some, but the food tastes like there's an Italian grandma in the kitchen.
Dishes not to miss: Italian hot beef sandwich ($8.95) and Zuppa di Clams ($17).
ROMAN VILLA PIZZA - 3005 N. Nevada Ave., 635-1806 $
A homey little spot favored by several generations of hungry fans, with well-prepared, flavorful dishes.
RUFFRANO'S HELL'S KITCHEN - 9 Ruxton Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-4355, hellskitchenmanitou.com $
New York-style pizza in west Manitou Springs, with fresh ingredients, great sauce and a little attitude.