Florida Foodies Flock to North Italia Restaurant Amid Southeast Expansion

Merilee Kern
7 min readApr 26, 2024

Sunshine State now boasts five locations of the concept throughout central and South Florida: Aventura, Dadeland, Brickell, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando

With the 2024 market size of the United States Italian Restaurants industry estimated to be $85.4 billion, it’s clear that Italian cuisine remains a favorite among diners. One brand making a noteworthy impact in the sector is North Italia.. With over 30 locations across the U.S. and growing, the ambitious eatery has its sights set on the Sunshine State. North Italia now boasts five locations of the concept throughout central and South Florida: Aventura, Dadeland, Brickell, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

Known for its seasonal ingredient-driven menu approach, North Italia’s chefs create a variety of modern Italian dishes including pastas made from scratch daily, a chef’s choice daily hand-stretched pizza that’s become a fan favorite, savory dishes like Squid Ink Tonnarelli and Braised Short Rib that deliver flavors that pack a punch, as well as tasty brunch offerings.

To gain some insight into the “secret sauce” propelling North Italia’s success, I connected with the company’s Marketing Director, DJ Duporte. Here are some tasty tidbits from that conversation.

MK: At a high level, to what do you attribute North Italia’s success?

DD: For one, we love involving local chefs and bartenders to develop offerings inspired by their area and expertise. We often incorporate those locally-inspired dishes and drinks onto the menu during promotions such as ‘Pi Day,’ North Italia’s month-long campaign that focused on regionally-inspired Italian pizzas, and ‘Summer Sips,’ a campaign focused on highlighting regionally-crafted cocktail recipes from across the country. Each location is a result of our team’s unwavering efforts and participation in all aspects of the restaurant.

We also value our team and staff at each location for their helpful input and ideas, enthusiasm, and dedication to North Italia. The staff embraces North Italia’s offerings, commitment to hospitality, and goals every day to create a welcoming and pleasant environment for our guests.

MK: Who are the restaurant’s target or ideal clientele?

DD: North Italia is the perfect dining spot for those appreciate authentic Italian cuisine with a refreshingly modern twist. Local foodies, groups of families and friends, young professionals, and trend-followers are all our ideal guests.

MK: What are a few things that set the restaurant apart from other comparable options in a given region?

DD: North Italia’s mission is to make the restaurant always feel like home to guests, no matter which location they are at. Each restaurant is equipped with murals painted by local artists, bike racks, and historical décor, all of which are unique and reflect the culture and spirit of each location.

Relative to food, our pizzas and pastas are a great example. Our hand-tossed pizzas and pastas are handmade, all with fresh, seasonal ingredients. We consistently update our menu with new and revised dishes and drinks so our guests are always able to try something new or stick to the classics like the guest-favorite White Truffle Garlic Bread.

We also participate in various community events and restaurant weeks such as South Beach Food & Wine Festival and DC Restaurant Week to personally connect with our guests in all areas and learn how to better provide them with the best experience every time they visit a North Italia location.

MK: What are a few things people might people not know about the restaurant, but should?

DD: Not only does North Italia prioritize having dishes that cater to many dietary needs, but we make sure that no one feels left out, no matter what they’re craving. There is always a way to turn our dishes gluten-free or vegetarian! Also, while our name might not suggest it, we’re more than just Northern Italian food. Each of our restaurants have unique murals that tell a special story about the community it is in. Finding those fun connections in the art is part of the experience of dining at North.

MK: How would you sum up the property’s approach to dining and hospitality at large?

DD: At our core is a love for authentic Italian cuisine, while incorporating our own modern twist. For example, our menu is seasonally inspired, but national and regional brand campaigns such as ‘Pi Day’ and ‘Summer Sips,’ allow our chefs and staff to tap into local ingredients, inspiration, and new cooking methods to bring something unique to the table. Each location uses the freshest, seasonal ingredients to craft handmade pastas and hand-tossed pizzas from scratch. Teams on the ground across the country value North Italia’s commitment to high-quality, authentic Italian dishes with a modern twist and that has been continuously reflected in our hospitality efforts.

MK: What is your personal favorite item on the menu?

DD: Honestly, it changes frequently, and I’ve eaten through the menu a hundred times over. But, I always end up going back to one of our pastas. I’ve always been a particular fan of our seasonal pasta offerings, like our winter menu’s Anolini or the upcoming seasonal Tortelloni. The ingredients used are always so fresh and new — not to mention they’re a great vegetarian option that can work for lunch or dinner.

MK: Food aside, what is your personal favorite aspect of the dining experience at large?

DD: North Italia works for so many occasions, it’s one of my favorite aspects about it. We pride ourselves in putting the guest experience first — and to be in an environment where you can have a family of five, a happy hour full of young professionals and an early date night happening all at once and everyone is happy — it’s special.

MK: What’s cooking up ahead for North Italia?

DD: North Italia was founded in 2002 in Scottsdale, Arizona, and is projected to have at least 40 locations by the end of this year. Our larger goal is to have 50 restaurants by 2026, which we are on track for. By continuing to participate in local events and activations, and by growing personal connections with the community, North Italia will continue to be recognized as everyone’s favorite neighborhood eatery. As we expand, we will introduce North Italia to new communities and further grow our knowledge of the area’s dining needs to better serve each community.

MK: Does the restaurant have any policies regarding sustainability?

DD: We are grateful for the opportunity to participate in our Nourish program, where each North Italia restaurants donate unused product toward reducing waste and helping feed food-insecure families, veterans and unhoused people in our local communities.

MK Is there a little-known factoids about the restaurant you can share?

DD: Many of our restaurants have unique murals that tell a story about the local community. It’s always fun watching the guests try and spot the connections! Also, most don’t realize that North Italia is 21 years old! Our first restaurant opened in 2022 in Scottsdale, Arizona and we’ve been growing ever since. Also, celebrities dine with us. Drake and his team dined at the Houston location in 2016. Yes, you read that right!


Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand strategist and analyst who reports on cultural shifts and trends as well as noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the “Savvy Living” lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks; as well as the “Savvy Ventures” business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV. As a prolific lifestyle, travel, dining and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv / Instagram www.Instagram.com/MerileeKern / Twitter www.Twitter.com/MerileeKern / Facebook www.Facebook.com/MerileeKernOfficial / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate if this is review editorial, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Source: https://www.ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/italian-restaurants-industry/#:~:text=Italian%20Restaurants%20in%20the%20US%20market%20size%20(2024%2D2029),estimated%20%2486.4bn%20in%202024