Around these parts, you can't kick a rock without hitting a pizzeria and usually a pretty great one at that. But what about the times when you want your carbs in a different form — perhaps as a giant bowl of silky, stringy fresh pasta? Well, that's a little harder to find. The good news is we're pasta lovers, too, and we're here to share six of our favorite spots for freshly made noodles.
Just consider yourself warned: Once you go fresh, you never go back.
Ocotillo in Phoenix offers extruded pastas, which means you can count on finding a selection of fun-shaped noodles including campanelle and lumache, as well as simpler styles such as bucatini and chitarra. In keeping with the restaurant's local and seasonal theme, pasta dishes change often and usually feature seasonal vegetables combined in simple but elegant ways. Our favorite selections include the baked lumache pasta made with butternut squash, goat cheese, and sage, and the simple but excellent house bucatini, which combines toothsome noodles with tomatoes, chile flakes, and toasted garlic.
This elegant Old Town Scottsdale restaurant is a fresh pasta lovers' dream. During every visit, servers present diners with a platter of the day's pasta selection, explaining the differences between each type and describing how they'll be prepared that night. The options often include fresh noodles infused with flavors such as dried porcini mushrooms, rosemary, or squid ink, as well as hand-shaped tagliolini, tortelloni, and ravioli. The price point — pasta dishes range from about $21 to $25 — makes Marcellino's more of an indulgence than other spots on this list, but the quality of the food and the excellent service usually justify the splurge.
With two locations in metro Phoenix, one in Central Phoenix's Arcadia neighborhood and the other at Kierland Commons in Scottsdale, North Italia is one of the most accessible spots for freshly-made pasta in town. It's also a great place for a first fresh pasta experience. Dishes such as the simple Chicken Pesto pasta make it easy to appreciate the texture of fresh pasta dough while still delivering plenty of flavor. We also love the restaurant's Cheese Tortellini, which combines handmade cheese-stuffed tortellini with mushrooms, saba, and ricotta cheese.
Chef and restaurateur Franco Fazzouli has been a mainstay of Italian dining in the Valley since he first opened Franco's Trattoria in 1987. He left metro Phoenix for a period before returning in recent years to open Franco's Italian Caffé in Old Town Scottsdale. The restaurant offers old-school charm and the menu includes well-executed classic dishes like beef carpaccio, chicken contadini, and a handful of fresh pastas. For a decadent pasta dish, go for the Fettuccine Tartufo, a dense bowl of eggy-noodles, truffle, and rich cream sauce, though we also love the Pasta Erbe Aromatiche, which includes handmade strozzapreti pasta in a creamy white wine sauce that's kissed with a blend of fragrant herbs.
When it comes to value, the fresh pasta selection at The Parlor Pizzeria really can't be beat. Full-size pasta entrees run about $25, but half-size entrees — which still make a nice light meal — run between just $12 and $14. The specific selections change seasonally, but you can always count on the classic pappardelle bolognese, a hearty combination of large noodles, meat sauce, pecorino, and rosemary oil. But our seasonal favorites include the sweet potato gnocchi, which comes with braised short rib, parsnip purée, and crispy Brussels sprouts. And if you're really looking for a deal, try the restaurant's Monday and Tuesday night Pasta and Bottle promotion. For $35 you'll get a full-size entree of freshly made pasta and any bottle of wine originally priced $40 or under.
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Chef Chris Bianco and his Bianco restaurants are obviously best known for serving world-class pizzas. But the chef's Town & Country restaurant is also one of the Valley's best destinations for freshly made pastas. The menu selection is limited to just two dishes — both excellent — including a rustichella spaghetti and a pappardelle, which features a grass-fed beef bolognese. The best option, however, is usually the restaurant's pasta specials, which feature local and seasonal produce and have included selections such as handmade beet-filled tortellini in a brown butter sauce, and fusilli with tomatoes, cauliflower, and Arizona-grown pistachios. There's even better news, too, for pasta lovers: The chef's soon-to-open Tratto promises to offer even more pasta options than at the pizzeria next door.