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foodWelcome to Scott Joseph's Foodster Awards for Independent Restaurants.

The Foodsters are an ongoing program to recognize and celebrate culinary excellence in Central Florida. The Foodsters are open to any business with three or fewer locations -- no chains.

Winners are chosen by you, with your vote. Make your selection in each category carefully -- only one vote is allowed per person.

You may nominate a restaurant for an appropriate category, but make sure it isn't already in the list of nominees. And remember: independent restaurants only.

What's the Best Italian Restaurant in Central Florida?

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Terralina clams

There was a time when a restaurant would boil up some pasta, toss on some meat rolled into a ball, douse it all with tomato sauce and call it Italian.

My how things have changed.

Now you can find more nuanced Italian food inspired by the many regions of the country: Ligurian, Neapolitan, Tuscan, Sicilian. And so much of it is so very good. So let's find the restaurant most deserving to receive the Foodster Award for Best Italian.

This is going to be a difficult category to narrow down. The restaurants listed here are among the best Italians in town. You may select up to FIVE of your favorites you'd like to see advance to the finals.

If you have a favorite Italian restaurant not on the list, you may write the name of the restaurant in. But please, be certain that the restaurant isn't listed elsewhere on the roster already. If it is, your write-in vote -- and any subsequent votes it receives -- will be deleted; the votes will not be added to the previous entry.

Also, remember that the Foodster Awards are for Independent Restaurants with three or fewer locations. Any chains written in will also be deleted. No chains.

Nominations will close on Oct. 17. The restaurants receiving the most votes will advance to the finals.

Here are the nominees:

Best Italian Nominees