Eating in Scottsdale doesn’t mean you’re restricted to Southwestern food. Sure, you can eat tacos for days or even try a bite of deep-fried rattlesnake (tastes like chicken!), but let’s face it – even desert rats crave some nonna-approved Italian eats now and again. Luckily, Scottsdale has some of the best Italian restaurants around. Here are my favorite spots to experience Italy in Scottsdale.
When the mood strikes for a classic Italian-deli – we’re talking warm eggplant parmesan sandwiches on a roll dripping with housemade sauce and melted cheese or an ooey-gooey baked ziti dotted with spicy sausages and topped with even more mozzarella – DeFalco’s is ready to welcome you. This isn’t some corporate-curated Italian food joint with endless breadsticks. The DeFalco family emigrated from Abuzzi, Italy and has been gracing Arizona with their indulgent provisions since 1972. Go for their sandwiches and imported grocery items, but stay for the fresh pizza, made-to-order and ready to go home with you any day of the week.
Andreoli Italian Grocer brings Italy to you with their homemade sausages, sauces, breads, pastries, and chocolates. Mama Andreoli passed down recipes and a love for cooking to chef and owner, Giovanni Scorzo, who makes all the breads and pastries in-house, so no matter what you choose, you’ll choose well. Be sure to ask about daily specials. Behind his well-stocked deli counter, Scorzo delights guests with spins on traditional Italian dishes like a brick oven margherita pizza, house-made gnocchi with tomato pesto creme, and spaghetti with fresh octopus and cherry tomatoes. It’s a great way to try a classic in a new way.
Born in the Campania region of Italy, Chef Marcellino Verzino has an affinity for fresh, seasonal ingredients and it shows in the food at Marcellino’s in Old Town Scottsdale. His carefully curated menu includes an array of irresistible dishes like our favorite, Gnocchi Sorrentina, a melt-in-your-mouth potato pillow in a perfectly seasoned tomato sauce topped with melted mozzarella. You should also save room for dessert. Verzino’s panna cotta is a crowd favorite that’s so light yet creamy that we’re more than willing to eat the whole thing and work it off later at the gym.
Chef Matt Carter, the man behind Zinc Bistro and other Arizona staples (The Mission, The House Brasserie), loves to mix his Arizona heritage with Italian provisions. The result is a completely innovative experience at Fat Ox, his newest endeavor named after the Carrù Italy Bue Grasso, or Fat Ox Festival. Chef Carter offers a fresh perspective on Italian cuisine with dishes like Green Tortellini with creamy ricotta, honey, and fermented cranberry, and Garganelli pasta with truffle butter, speck, and parmesan. For dessert, cleanse your palate with a tangy Meyer lemon tart topped with Italian meringue, pine nuts, and basil. It’s like a trip to Italy right in your own backyard.
Chef Franco Fazzuoli has been a local favorite for years. In 2013, after opening a popular Greenwich Village restaurant in New York, he returned to the Valley with longtime partner Chef Steve Martin to open Franco’s Italian Cafe in Old Town Scottsdale. You’ll be tempted by the homemade pastas (also available in whole wheat and gluten-free!), and can indulge as you wish on dishes like Fettuccine Tartufo, but make sure you return to try his veal chop, which arrives to your table perfectly charred while still tender. A word of note for July through August, however, check ahead of time for summer hours of operation.