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Eating Italian in the desert: best Scottsdale Italian restaurants



Scottsdale may not be the first destination that pops to mind when talking about classic Italian food, but the city boasts a nice roster of excellent Italian restaurants.

EVO, a chic Old Town destination for high-quality Italian fare, offers a menu replete with handmade pasta, specialty pizza and an impressive menu of antipasti. 

Regional Italian cuisine can be hard to come by in the Sonoran Desert, but Veneto Trattoria offers dishes from Northern Italy. If you can’t afford a trip to Venice, owners Robert and Susan Rossi (natives of Treviso), offer the next best thing with standards such as baccala (salt cod) with polenta, fegato (liver and onions), and Fettucine with braised duck ragu.

In the mood for Neapolitan pizza? Pomo Pizzeria uses traditional slow levitation methods to create wonderful pizzas.

Miss your old Italian grocer's back east? Defalco's Italian Grocery in Scottsdale fills the void quite nicely, delivering the best in imported Italian cheeses, meats and spices and dishing out hearty portions of traditional pasta dishes.

Be sure to plan a stop at Andreoli Italian Grocer's, where you'll find homemade staples like antipasti, fresh pasta, sausage, gorgeous calamari, and all manner of homemade bread and desserts. Not to be missed. 

Check out the rest of the list for more neighborhood recommendations. 


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Ristorante Giuseppe


Family owned and operated since 1989, Ristorante Giuseppe is a favorite with locals in the know. Don't let the cash-only policy keep you from sampling the extensive menu of classic Italian dishes. Whether you're in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, or linguini, chances are the hearty portions and traditional ingredients will make your taste buds sing. Try a plate from the daily specials menu, which includes hard-to-find specialties such as eggplant rollatini, Thinly sliced, lightly breaded eggplant rolled with ricotta cheese and spinach and served with pasta on the side. Bring your own wine--no corkage fees at Ristorante Giuseppe.

Recommended for Italian because: Ristorante Giuseppe is an old-school Italian Restaurant with a friendly, neighborhood vibe. Perfect if you're looking for hearty, unpretentious Italian fare.

Patricia's expert tip: Ristorante Giuseppe is a BYOB establishment. Even better, there's no corkage fee.

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EVO


EVO is a vintage-inspired Italian restaurant and bar committed to delivering timeless Italian cuisine and high-quality drinks in a sleek, inviting setting. On the food side of the menu, EVO dishes out fresh appetizers and small plates, delicious specialty pizzas, house-made pasta dishes, fish and meat dishes, and luscious desserts. EVO also has an extensive drink menu where you'll find handcrafted cocktails, draft beers, draft spirits, bottled beer, beer on tap, bubbles and wine by the glass. For a refreshing summery drink, make sure to try the Grapefruit Basil cocktail, made with three olives citrus vodka, fresh basil, grapefruit and lime.

Recommended for Italian because: A menu bursting with antipasti, specialty pizzas and handmade pasta makes EVO a great source for Italian food in Scottsdale.

Patricia's expert tip: Looking for late-night coffee and conversation? Kitchen is open until 1:30 am.

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Pasta Brioni


Charming red-and-white checked tablecloths, glass lamps, and inexplicably hunky waiters - welcome to Pasta Brioni. Traditional Italian dishes populate the menu. While there the menu certainly doesn't reinvent the wheel, what's delivered is solid and tasty. Homemade spaghetti and meatballs, linguini Pescatore (clams, mussels, calamari, and shrimp), and heart-healthy Cappellini with basil and tomato are favorites. Hefty calzones and generously-sized pizzas are pasta alternatives. Dessert feature treats like tiramisu and hazelnut ice cream, both exquisite and worth making room for at the end of your meal. Perfect for a relaxing lunch or dinner. Take-out service and a lively happy hour are bonuses.

Recommended for Italian because: Pasta Brioni is a casual Scottsdale neighborhood eatery specializing in all your favorite classic pasta dishes. The "light" menu offers lower-calorie options.

Patricia's expert tip: Don't have time for a full meal? Check out the to-go menu, which includes pizza, sandwiches, entree salads and daily specials.

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Marcellino Ristorante


Hand-crafted Italian cuisine is the star of the show at Marcellino's Ristorante in Scottsdale, where Chef Marcellino creates classic Italian dishes with a fresh and modern twist. Some of the stand-outs on the hand-crafted pasta menu include the Gnocchi Sorrentina, a hand-rolled potato pasta in a tomato sauce tossed with fresh mozzarella. Don't skip your antipasti though, because you'll want to sample the Caprese made with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, roasted pepper and homegrown basil. Try the Insalata di Pera, made with pear slices served on fresh watercress with shaved pecorino and a made-from-scratch lemon dressing. This Old Town gem is ideal for date night or special occasion.

Recommended for Italian because: Hand-made pasta, reduction sauces and desserts make Marcellino one of the most quintessential Italian restaurants in downtown Scottsdale.

Patricia's expert tip: If you love tiramisu, try this one, which features drenched espresso, creamy mascarpone and unsweetened cocoa.

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'Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana


There are no shortage of pizzerias in Scottsdale, but 'Pomo Pizzeria stands out for its devotion to truly authentic Neapolitan pizza. Two Italian pizzaiolos (pizza masters) are behind the chewy, delectable pies at 'Pomo Pizzeria in Scottdale. 'Pomo Pizzeria is an APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napole- Tani) and VPN (Verace Pizza Napoletana) certified Restaurant in Arizona, using traditional methods perfected in Southern Italy to make hand-crafted, unforgettable pizzas. The secret is the slow levitation method, home-made pizza dough, and blast-cooking process, all of which lock in flavors and moisture. Paninis, salads and pasta dishes are also available, but the pizza is the real star here.

Recommended for Italian because: In a city awash in good pizzerias, Pomo Pizzeria stands out as one of the most satisfying Neapolitan-style pizzerias in Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Patricia's expert tip: All the pizzas are quite good here, but the classic Margherita sings with simple yet robust flavors.

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Veneto Trattoria is modeled after the traditional trattorias of Northern Italy. The menu features fresh dishes prepared with the best ingredients. The healthy, satisfying flavors used at Veneto Trattoria are lightly prepared for a satisfying meal that is never heavy or greasy. The ambiance here is warm, friendly and casual. Try one of the hand-crafted pasta, such as the fresh gnocchi or luscious risottos. Traditional Northern Italian dishes frequently feature balsamic vinegar seasoning, and Veneto Trattoria is no different. Only the highest quality balsamic is used in the restaurant's house dressings and to add sweetness to certain dishes without having to resort to fatty butter.

Recommended for Italian because: Veneto Trattoria specializes in fresh Northern Italian fare. Light, healthy fare offers a welcome break from cream-heavy pasta dishes.

Patricia's expert tip: Whole wheat substitutions are available for some dishes.

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Arrivederci


A nondescript location belies the delicious Italian cuisine served inside this popular restaurant. Locals flock to Arrivederci for tender pasta and succulent meat and seafood dishes. Your meal will begin on a very high note, with fresh-baked rolls delivered to your table. Lobster-stuffed ravioli in a creamy, saffron-infused sauce and delicate potato gnocchi in a four-cheese sauce are two of the most requested entrees, while carpaccio and eggplant parmigiana also win raves. Naturally, desserts are of equally high quality, especially decadent ricotta cheesecake. Intimate ambiance and attentive, unpretentious service are pluses. For dessert, try the chocomisu and limoncello, both of which are made in-house.

Recommended for Italian because: Arrivederci is an unpretentious cafe that specializes in home-made pastas, fresh bread and irresistible sauces.

Patricia's expert tip: Start with the Portobello Reganato con Fontina, one of the restaurant's most popular appetizers.

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Defalcos Italian Grocery


If you're looking for an original, family-owned Italian deli, Defalco's Italian Grocery is the real thing. This local treasure is located just south of downtown Scottsdale, on the border between Tempe and Scottsdale. The menu features traditional pasta dishes and hot sandwiches. You'll see a lot of loyal customers coming in before dinner to carry out one of the take-home dishes, or shopping for high-quality Italian products such as hand-made ravioli and imported olive oil. Enjoy the outdoor patio with a plate of eggplant parm, chicken cutlet, or lasagna. The dessert menu includes traditional Italian classic like cannoli and tiramisu.

Recommended for Italian because: Defalco's Italian Grocery in Scottsdale is a long-standing favorite with locals, famous for Italian deli that is both delicious and easy on the wallet.

Patricia's expert tip: When you are craving authentic antipasto and imported Italian meats, Defalco is a surefire palate-pleaser.

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Franco's Italian Caffe


Native Florentine and longtime Valley restaurateur Franco Fazzuoli brings fresh, upscale Italian flavors to Scottsdale at Franco's Italian Caffe. The restaurant, located in downtown Scottsdale, offers Florentine Italian dishes like Filet Mignon All'Arrabiata, Bistecca Fiorentina and Spaghetti Salsa Cruda. There are also specialty salads, including a lovely Beet Arugula salad that comes with goat cheese. But before you get to the secondi courses, start with one of the restaurant's trademark bruschetta, including a popular tuna bruschetta. Other small plate appetizers include prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella. The restaurant offers a comprehensive wine list, as well. Gluten-free options are available with pasta dishes.

Recommended for Italian because: A winning menu of Florentine-inspired Italian food makes Franco's Italian Caffe one of Scottsdale's favorite places to enjoy classic Italian cuisine.

Patricia's expert tip: Although Franco's is best enjoyed as a sit-down restaurant, menu items can also be ordered for take-out.

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Andreoli Italian Grocer


Owner and chef Giovanni Scorzo, a native of Calabria in northwest Italy, delivers delicious pasta and other staples at this charming Italian grocery and cafe in Scottsdale. Scorzo makes all his own bread and pastries, including the house tiramisu, cannoli, and even hand-made chocolates. Daily specials might include Italian specialties like rosticciana (grilled pork ribs), pasta e fave (pasta and fava bean soup), bistecca alla Fiorentina (Florentine-style T-bone steak), and other homemade specialties. There's also a well-stocked deli counter where you'll find high quality imported meats, cheeses, and olives. Just try to resist the bakery counter, which is filled with cookies and pastries.

Recommended for Italian because: Andreoli's is a must if you're looking for scratch-made Italian deli, pasta and desserts in Scottsdale.

Patricia's expert tip: Try the arancini for starters, a Sicilian-style rice ball filled with veal meat sauce and peas.

Read more about Andreoli Italian Grocer →


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Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.

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