Phoenix has always loved Italian food. In fact, 40 years ago, Italian restaurants — along with steakhouses — dominated the Valley’s food scene. These days, our dining options in every genre are blessedly more varied, and that includes Italian restaurants, where diners may now choose from the genteel, old-school places, humming along for decades; the buzzy new ones offering modern Italian cuisine, fancy cocktails, and a trendy vibe; and restaurants that fall somewhere in between, planting one foot in the modern world while keeping the other rooted in Old World traditions. Here are the 11 most interesting Italian restaurants in town.Read More
11 Top-Notch Italian Restaurants Around Phoenix
Where to go now for house-made pasta, shimmering mozzarella, wood-fired pizza, and traditional saltimbocca
Fabio On Fire
Admittedly, this North Peoria restaurant’s name is open to interpretation, but chef-owner Fabio Ceschetti, a third-generation pizzaiolo, does, indeed, cook with fire, turning out excellent pizza as well as soulful Italian classics such as cioppino, lasagna, and wood-roasted porchetta or lamb. It’s entirely possible to make a meal of his bread alone, but that would mean missing out on gnocchi Bolognese, butternut squash-stuffed ravioli topped with sage-scented cream sauce, and veal piccata, tangy with lemon and capers. The small wine list is exclusively Italian, and the patio is charming, so it’s safe to say that Fabio is on fire in more ways than one.
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Tucked away in a strip mall near Fountain Hills, intimate, upscale Casa Mia has been flying under the radar for over 20 years, but insiders know just how exceptional this small, family-run operation is. It’s the life’s blood of Danilo Sodano and his adult children Nantas Sodano and Hera Ambrosio, who create classic Italian dishes using organic produce, fresh pasta, and grass-fed beef. Get started with a grapefruit basil martini and the burrata appetizer, embellished with prosciutto, mint, and fig syrup. The pasta is outstanding, as is the elegant saltimbocca.
Andreoli Italian Grocer
During his 30-plus years in Scottsdale, Calabrian-born chef Giovanni Scorzo has opened and closed two successful white tablecloth Italian restaurants, but he found his happy place when he opened this cozy market-cum-restaurant over a decade ago. Customers line up to order from the daily changing whiteboard menu, pay at the counter, and grab a vintage table set amid grocery shelves lined with pasta, wines, and other imported Italian foodstuffs. The atmosphere is relaxed, almost familial. And indeed, two of Scorzo’s adult children work in the kitchen, cranking out juicy porchetta sandwiches on house bread, house-pulled mozzarella set in a tomato-dotted nest of arugula, obscure pasta dishes that change with the seasons, and delicate desserts that look too pretty to eat.
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Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana - Scottsdale
Neapolitan pizza fans swear by chef Stefano Fabbri’s AVPN-certified pies, made with pre-fermented, slow-rising sourdough starter and cooked at lightning speed in a wood-burning oven. The result? Thin pizzas with gloriously tender crusts. In true Neapolitan style, their centers are a little soupy. Pomo’s Scottsdale location also features Pizza Rimini, a Northern Italian specialty beloved for its crunchy, paper-thin crust. But there’s so much more to Pomo than pizza, including a slew of excellent antipasti (think: bruschetta, polpette, burrata, and arancini) and wonderful pastas, including rich spaghetti alla carbonara and linguine with salmon, bathed in saffron cream.
Fat Ox is the place to go for modern Italian food and the sort of see-and-be-seen crowd associated with Scottsdale. When it’s crowded (and that’s often), the Ox is noisy, but most customers pay no mind to the din once the riveting, beautifully plated food arrives. Pastas, one of the menu’s highlights, are made in-house daily, while premium proteins (think: Berkshire pork, branzino, Ora king salmon, and Linz Reserve steaks) are cooked over wood and charcoal in a custom-made hearth. This is light years from spaghetti and meatballs on a checkered tablecloth. For an affordable, fly-by experience, head to the glitzy bar for good cocktails and appetizers.
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Celebrity chef and James Beard award-winner Scott Conant moved from New York to Phoenix in 2017 to open Mora, his loud, buzzy take on Italy’s neighborhood osterias, and diners fell in love. A huge, center-stage bar and an eye-popping, Italian-themed mural set the let’s-have-fun tone, which is reinforced with clever cocktails and Italian dishes that feel traditional-yet-modern, casual-yet-elevated. Start things off with focaccia di recco (Italy’s airy kissing cousin to Arizona’s cheese crisp) before moving on to pasta, pizza, and inventive main courses such as Calabrian black cod, harissa-spiced salmon, or roasted chicken with gnocchi alla Romana.
The Parlor Pizzeria
This rustic-yet-clean-lined Italian restaurant and pizzeria kept the basic design elements of its predecessor, a 1950s beauty parlor, and draws a fiercely loyal clientele who love its midcentury vibe, cocktails, and creative wood-fired pizzas built on thin, chewy crusts. Although the menu hews to pizza classics, a few options, including the daily special, can be deliciously imaginative. Many are topped with fresh ingredients from the small garden near the entrance. There’s even a vegan model, adorned with butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, Calabrian chile, caramelized onion, and almond ricotta. The menu is rounded out with antipasti, pasta, and creative Italian-inspired pane, including a mortadella sandwich assembled with provolone, house pickles, mustard aioli, and onion jam.
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Franco's Italian Caffe
Franco Fazzuoli’s cozy haven for old-school Italian cooking is a throwback to quieter, more gracious times without the stuffiness and calcification typically associated with decades-old restaurants. Customers who still appreciate the classics — say, a prosciutto and melon starter, capellini pasta with tomato and basil (elegant in its simplicity), or a perfectly rendered chicken paillard — find their bliss here, as Fazzuoli and his staff deftly demonstrate what cordial-yet-professional service looks like. Don’t leave without a slab of half-crunchy, half-silky meringata, a meringue-based dessert made using Fazzuoli’s grandmother’s recipe.
Virtu Honest Craft
Chef Gio Osso has opened three restaurants over the past decade, but tiny, upscale Virtu, tucked away in the Bespoke Inn, remains the mothership as well as the stage for Osso’s elegant, showy spin on modern Italian. Since the pandemic, the restaurant has moved to a three-course prix fixe menu, which changes often (sometimes daily), but two dishes that seldom, if ever, leave are Osso’s famously tender octopus, laved in Calabrian chile butter, and his thoroughly decadent asparagus, served with an oozy duck egg, bacon candy, feta crumbles, and foie gras hollandaise. Main courses — seared tuna, smoked duck, grilled lamb chops, and the like — are every bit as enticing. Be sure to have an after-dinner amaro from the city’s best selection, and ask for a table on the lush, tiered patio.
Pa'La Wood Fired Cooking
Since its 2021 inception, Pa’La Downtown evolved into a different animal from it’s simpler and far more humble predecessor Pa’La, which opened on 24th Street in 2017. Both are seafood-centric and Italian-influenced. Both cook almost everything in a wood-burning oven, but Pa’La Downtown offers full-service, breakable dinnerware (not paper plates), cocktails, and an artsy vibe that draws a younger, hipper crowd. The food is also a little edgier. Executive chef and Roka Akor alum Jason Alford offers tapas, small bites, and share plates that give classic Italian dishes a touch of Japanese inflection. Controne beans and winter greens are given a sprinkle of furikake, while Skull Island prawns, nestled on a bed of sweet peperonata, bear the pungent bite of togarashi. Purists will find a few straight-up traditional Italian dishes, too, but the fun here is in the fusion.
Two-time James Beard award-winner Chris Bianco may be one of the world’s great pizzaiolos (Chef’s Table, the Netflix documentary on pizza-making, etched that impression in stone), but his talent for soul-satisfying Italian food extends far beyond the parameters of the pizza oven. His welcoming Trattoria, housed in a vintage building along an ungentrified strip of Van Buren, smoothly proves the point. The frequently changing menu, which celebrates the seasons, might offer Chioggia beets roasted in fig leaves and dotted with gorgonzola dolce, or ricotta ravioli with fava beans and lemon, or maybe smoked and braised pork shank, served Milanese-style — all of it simple but mind-blowing. The cocktails are noteworthy, the wine list skews Italian, and the desserts never fail to please.