BEST UPSCALE ITALIAN RESTAURANT Phoenix 2005 - Marcellino Ristorante
You will not nosh better pasta in town than at Marcellino Ristorante. Period. End of story. Yes, there are plenty of other high-class Italian joints in the Valley; maybe too many, if you catch our drift. And, yes, you can get your fill of semolina sticks elsewhere and feel satisfied with yourself for not spending too many ducats, but if you experience the handmade pastas at Marcellino's, what you eat elsewhere will seem like Chef Boyardee by comparison. That's because Chef Marcellino Verzino is a true maestro who began cooking at age 11 on his father's farm in Italy, and has since performed culinary magic in acclaimed restaurants in Rome and New York. He and his enchanting bride Sima decided to start over in Phoenix in 2003, and our lives have been the richer for it. Verzino's gnocchi, linguini, strozzaprete and capellini are unforgettable. And if you're not in the mood for such heavenly starchiness, Verzino's non-pasta entrees are equally gustable, like gamberi affogati, jumbo shrimp sautéed with white wine, or fegato all'uva, calves' liver sautéed with grapes, then flambéed with cognac. And if it's pricier than an evening at a mom-and-pop pasta shop, remember: You get what you pay for, bucko.