An ode to bread, pasta’s trusty side piece at local Italian restaurants

Ahh, bread. It’s the side or starter just too good to neglect, even if it means going into carb overload.

Pasta’s crusty, pillowy sidekick is versatile enough to satisfy a rumbling appetite before entrees are served or to sop up saucy remnants and claim a spot in the Clean Plate Club.

Whether served as loaves, rolls, baguettes or slices, and dunked in seasoned olive oil, slathered with butter or perched on the side of a hearty plate of spaghetti, bread perfectly complements pasta. Because let’s face it: Nothing goes better with a plate of carbs than a side of carbs.

A toast to bread

Local restaurants make homemade bread worth savoring every last crumb. Here are some to try


La Contea
La Contea

7970 Jefferson Highway

If you walk into La Contea and think it smells like fresh bread, that’s because  the restaurant bakes up its own house-made rolls and crostinis. The rolls arrive before the meal, served with a healthy dusting of Parmesan and a side of olive oil with a house-made herb blend. Save a roll or two for your dish—it’s the perfect sponge to clean up any remaining splatters of sauce. laconteabr.com

The Little Village

14241 Airline Highway | 447 Third St.

Braided Italian sesame loaves are baked to order and done up with generous brushings of olive oil and dustings of black pepper and Romano cheese. Ideal for experimenting with flavor combos, order a loaf accompanied with an entourage of olive tapenade and a roasted garlic bulb. littlevillagebr.com

Gino’s Italian Restaurant

4542 Bennington Ave.

A house special, Gino’s regulars know its signature bread by name. The Laurence Bread rolls’ crispy cheese crust is brushed with oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds before being tucked into a paper doily and placed into a basket for serving. ginosrestaurant.com

Rocca Pizzeria

3897 Government St.

We can knot forget about the tangy Garlic Knots at Rocca. The doughy texture is elevated with a pass through the accompanying fluffy whipped provolone. Go all in with a ravenous bite, or try to unravel the tie before chowing down. roccapizzeria.com

Bistro Italia

11903 Coursey Blvd.

At this casual spot slinging family recipes, the garlicky, cheesy Focaccia Bread is served sliced up and sprinkled with herbs. Like a cheesy pizza with the sauce on the side, this bread is made for sharing.

Palermo Ristorante

7809 Jefferson Highway

Complimentary breadsticks are the opening act you won’t forget. They’re served warm and with a little bit of local love courtesy a brushing of olive oil and a custom Red Stick Spice Co. blend. palermobr.com 



In Italy, “fare la scarpetta”— using bread to soak up leftover sauces—is a ritual at casual restaurants. The literal transition, “make the little shoe,” encouraged diners not to waste food during an era when people were hungry enough to “eat their shoe.“

This article was originally published in the February 2023 issue of 225 magazine.