Best Italian Restaurant 2019 | Tratto | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Jacob Tyler Dunn

A saying that many attribute to Leonardo da Vinci captures the essence of Tratto: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." The understanding of Italian food — which from north to south is all about simple food simply prepared — as well as just how far Chef Cassie Shortino can take you into the mountains and open fields of Italy, all seen through a Sonoran lens, is unmatched in Phoenix. Tratto shapes whole-wheat cavatelli. Cuts spaghetti alla chittara. Coats boxed pasta shells in pomodoro sauce. Foods as simple as roasted chicken or chickpea crepes seem to pulse with vibrant life, especially in your memory, at the close of a meal, when taking down arcane amari. In the Chris Bianco spirit, Tratto thrives on a low-key philosophy of sourcing the freshest ingredients possible and using craftsmanship to, by the time the cooking starts, have the guts to step aside and let them shine. The result is simple, sophisticated food alive with the seasons and true to the way things are done in the old country, even if being in Arizona makes it all fresh and new.

Wrigley Mansion

Try to think of a Phoenix restaurant where Frasier and Niles might dine. What would be their chez away from chez? Cue Geordie's. The historic Wrigley Mansion's gourmet eatery, Geordie's Restaurant, offers kitchen space to the James Beard Award-winning Chef Christopher Gross. He and his experienced culinary team plate many European dishes, including French cooking in the form of caviar, duck confit, foie gras, and the chocolate tower loved 'round the city. Geordie's Restaurant offers lunch, dinner, small plates, happy hour specials, and one of the most exciting brunches in town. The extensive wine list offers more than 800 bottles, many from France, and all selected by award-winning wine director Paola Embry. Wrigley Mansion also offers verandas, patios with twinkling city views, five private dining rooms, and the elegant Jamie's Wine Bar.

Lauren Cusimano

Prep trays at this longtime Phoenix staple have a set capacity: 77 balls of dough. Some are destined to become frybread served beside bowls of homestyle Tohono O'odham red chile. Others will crackle in molten oil before getting finished, right out of the fryer, with melted butter and liquid chocolate, which river down through dough valleys and onto the serving paper. Frybread is a complicated food. It was born from deep tragedy. But it has sustained indigenous people for generations. For a quarter-century, the Miller family has been serving it at Fry Bread House's shifting location. When visiting, be sure you look beyond the lacy brown disks. C'emet, the indigenous Southwestern wheat tortilla, wraps soft squash burros. Green chile, with its full-throated spice powered by Hatch chiles from late summer to fall's end, is a visceral reminder of our desert's harsh beauty.

Peruvian food is one of the original fusion cuisines. Italian and Asian influences are a part of Los Andes' menu, with a number of linguine and fried-rice plate options. But the real star of this hole-in-the wall west-side restaurant is the seafood. The ceviche, with its unique blend of Peruvian spices, tastes different from other traditional ceviche. The Pescado a lo Macho is a fried fish filet covered in a mixed seafood sauce that is, trust us, quite difficult to re-create. Los Andes is a journey through hundreds of years of Peruvian cuisine brought to metro Phoenix.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Da Vang is the neighborhood spot that's regularly been selected for Best of Phoenix because it keeps its formula consistent — good food at good prices. The authentic Vietnamese menu is quite extensive, but that just means you can keep coming back for something different each time. Most of the items are under $10, but the portion sizes are anything but small. The com tam dac biet is a dish of broken steamed rice with barbecue pork, shrimp, a fried shrimp cake, a barbecue pork meatball, a crab-egg cake, shredded pork, and a fried egg. Whether you're in the mood for noodles, sandwiches, a big bowl of pho, or one of the other soups, Da Vang is there with fresh food and quick service.

Visit Thai-E-San and you'll get authentic, affordable food that delivers on price and serving size, whether you dine in or out. The staff is friendly and remembers regular customers' orders. Menu highlights include the pad see ew noodles, the Royal Curry, and the coconut soup. And vegetarian or not, the fried tofu that can be added to any dish is not to be missed. If you come for lunch during the week, choose from a curry or traditional dish with your choice of protein, plus an egg roll, wonton chips, and the soup of the day. All dishes are customizable spice-wise from a mild "1" to a super-hot "5."

Lauren Cusimano

The atmosphere is electric at Drunken Tiger on a Friday or Saturday night. Large and small groups of happy diners talk and laugh over the sounds of K-pop. Servers move swiftly around the space, passing out hot platters of Korean fusion food. Drunken Tiger is the place to try some traditional Asian favorites like tteokbokki and takoyaki as well as fun takes on Korean fare like bulgogi nachos and kimchi pork fries. You can't go wrong with the Yang Nyum Chicken (popcorn chicken tossed in a spicy Korean red sauce) or the galbi. And don't forget to explore the drink menu; Drunken Tiger has a great list of Korean beers and soju cocktails to wash down all that great food.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Japanese food is not hard to come by in the Valley, but true Japanese food is a different story. Find Hana Japanese Eatery at Seventh and Missouri avenues, occupying a strip-mall slot and offering a lengthy sushi bar, bustling dining areas, and a BYOB policy. Patrons may bring their own sake, beer, or bottle of wine for a $5 corkage fee, and the Hana staff will keep it cold. The spot has been owned and overseen by renowned Chef Lori Hashimoto — nutrition science graduate and daughter of a local vegetable farmer — since its 2007 opening. Head to Hana for a bento box at lunchtime, or something with a little more detail, like the tai nanbanzuke (fried red snapper), at dinnertime.

Jacob Tyler Dunn

The east Valley has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to incredible Asian food. Many of the restaurants have opened in the last couple of years, but our favorite place for Chinese food has been around for a bit longer. Chou's Kitchen, which serves the cuisine of northeastern China, has a diverse menu worth exploring. We love the stir-fried eggplant with minced pork and garlic sauce, the fish filet in hot chile oil, and above all, the xiaolongbao, steamed dumplings filled with soup and pork. Travel + Leisure included Chou's Kitchen on its list of the best Chinese restaurants in the U.S. several years ago, bringing well-deserved national attention to this local favorite.

At India's Flame, to start, the naan has a flaky, wafery bite and gives you the same warming goodness as buttered popcorn. During lunch, well-spiced cups of chai are included with a sprawling buffet, and so are bracing glasses of mango lassi. You can pick and choose from the extensive menu or ride with the buffet. In either case, don't miss daal maharani, a creamy slurry of lentils with a mellow curry heat. A hearty, refined curry features bone-in goat, a shade chewy but rich and satisfying. The list of standouts goes on: tandoori chicken perfectly moist inside despite oven-blackening on the surface, coconut-milk-deepened korma packed with vegetables, and a nice carrot rendition of halwa for dessert. This hidden gem does it all.

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