Southern Italian Restaurant

We welcome you to enjoy our rustic Italian-Appalachian cuisine along side inventive craft cocktails and unique wines in the very heart of downtown Sylva. Ilda is the artisan passion project of husband & wife team Chef Santiago Guzzetti and Sommelier Crystal Pace. Nestled in the Smokey Mountains of Western North Carolina, the pair felt called to build a home that is rich in culture, craft and community. Santiago’s heritage in Italian cuisine and Crystal’s ties to her hometown of Appalachia create a cuisine that is unique, but also honors and respects history. This union of Italian and Southern Appalachian cuisine is the foundation where they will recreate the comfort you found at your grandmother’s kitchen table.

Heart and History

Santiago and Crystal met while working in New York and together, the two bought a small restaurant on the corner of Main Street and Mill Street in the heart of downtown Sylva, North Carolina.

Crystal is a Sylva native and the daughter of local stained glass artist, Bob Pace. This restaurant space is especially heartfelt for Crystal because this is where her stepmom, Karen Martar, opened her first restaurant, “Meatballs” nearly 40 years ago. Karen, a sassy Sicilian from New Jersey, not only left a huge impact on Crystal, but the entire town of Sylva. Crystal’s passion for traveling and wine has taken her around the world, but like Karen, she believes the magic lives in Sylva. The wines chosen for Ilda will be both classics and rarities with a focus on Italian varietals.

Santi’s Sicilian grandmother, Ilda, is his inspiration as he inherited his passion for cooking from her. Santiago Guzzetti’s ever-evolving seasonal menu showcases the restaurant’s relationships with local farmers, fishermen and artisanal producers across Western North Carolina while displaying the unmatched skill and technique of southern Italian cooking.

From our bar you will enjoy innovative cocktails curated by credible NYC bar and spirits professional, Antoine Maurice Hodge. Antoine has created a custom cocktail menu for Ilda that not only embraces the various spirits and authentic libations of Italy, but also utilizes the vast local and indigenous ingredients of Appalachia.

Together Crystal and Santiago are creating a cuisine that incorporates Appalachian ingredients using Italian technique. With a focus on local produce and homemade pasta, their food evokes a feeling of comfort and sparks a curious taste for more. As an homage to family and heritage, the duo is naming their restaurant Ilda and will also feature Karen’s family meatball recipe.


Wednesday – Sunday 5pm – 9pm

Monday – Tuesday CLOSED

Limited Capacity & Outdoor Seating


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