Located just off of Main Street in historic downtown Franklin, Culaccino is a neighborhood gem that locals can’t get enough of. Open for both lunch and dinner (and an addictive Sunday brunch), it’s a retreat away from Southern food standbys served in many of the area’s restaurants. The kitchen is led by Nashville by the way of Naples, FL chef Frank Pullara. He and his team must be doing something right as the waiting list for dinner reservations is currently close to a month’s time. A meal here is worth waiting for, but we suggest getting your name on the list asap for the ultimate Italian experience this season.

Related: The Ultimate Itinerary for a Weekend in Franklin


The Menu:

There are both lunch and dinner menus at the bistro, with both offering a selection of authentic dishes ranging from classic Italian starters to indulgent house specialties including hearty steaks and chops. And of course, there’s always a variety of pizza and pasta offerings to choose from.


The Vibe:

Close-set, white-covered tables are situated for conversation and maximizing street views from the expansive glass front. A visible pizza oven and classic bar seating open to a cozy dining room. There’s even a spacious patio with a welcoming fire pit for dining alfresco. 


The Crowd:

While famous faces are not uncommon in the space as the area is home to many we recognize, the typical patrons are a mix of well-dressed but casual local residents and downtown professionals seeking genuine Italian fare. On the day we were shooting, our table was in close proximity to Kathie Lee Gifford’s, where she was enjoying a weekday lunch with a small group.

The atmosphere is also child-friendly, so no worries about getting a sitter for dinner.


The Cocktail:

The AFD is a summer classic, with Plantation Pineapple Rum and Lemon-salted pineapple while the Vanity’s Fair spices things up with red pepper, lemon, and Ford’s Gin. Culaccino’s wine list also includes varietals from 15 of Italy’s premier growing regions chosen specifically to compliment the menu. 


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Lauren could not get enough of the Ricotta Fritta– a soft fried cheese flanked with stewed tomatoes and pecorino sardo. Lacey’s pick for the perfect order was the ravioli. This isn’t a typical pasta, as it’s served with veal shoulder, bone marrow, and a butter sauce reduction. Rich, but so worth it! For the table, everyone raved about the Prosciutto and Artichoke Pizza– which comes with a fresh farm egg on top.