Best of Phoenix

Best of Phoenix 2021: Top European Restaurants and Cuisine

You don't have to travel across the ocean to enjoy the many tastes of Europe. The Valley has German and Irish pubs where you can catch a match and wonderful delis where you can score your favorite cut of meat or slice of cheese. For fine dining, there's everything from classic French and traditional Italian fare to hefty charcuterie boards that are all the rage these days. Check out these European-inspired restaurants and cuisine took home a Best of Phoenix award in 2021.
click to enlarge George & Dragon is always good for a beer and chips on the patio. - BENJAMIN LEATHERMAN
George & Dragon is always good for a beer and chips on the patio.
Benjamin Leatherman

Best British Pub

George & Dragon English Pub
4240 North Central Avenue

Ever since the pandemic made it much more of an ordeal to travel, we've found ourselves frequently thinking about journeys past. When we crave the cheerful din of an English tavern, we head to George & Dragon in central Phoenix. You don't need to eat anything here to have a satisfying time; a pint of Smithwick's, some football (meaning soccer) on the TV, and a friendly chat with the chap on the next barstool is a fine way to while away an afternoon or evening. But we recommend sampling the menu: The chicken and vegetable curries are celebrated for a reason, and traditional British fare like shepherd's pie and bangers and mash pair well with the ciders and beers on tap. Until we can hop the pond again, George & Dragon gives us that British pub experience, right in the heart of Phoenix.

click to enlarge Enjoy the scenery at Mountain View Pub. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Enjoy the scenery at Mountain View Pub.
Lauren Cusimano

Best Irish Pub

Mountain View Pub
7033 East Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek

Sure, you got your McCaffrey's, your Dubliners, your suburban corner pubs. But in downtown Cave Creek's crowded food-and-drink scene, look for the giant Guinness banner and head toward Mountain View Pub. It has the usual Irish bar traits: imported beers, appetizers, an assortment of antique furniture, an internet jukebox. But there's also a stage framed by exposed cobblestone, some natural sunlight, and a massive back patio with absolutely breathtaking views of a river valley and the north Valley mountains. To drink, order a margarita, a house favorite that's served in a Guinness pint glass. To eat? Stay on the ol' Emerald Isle; we like the Irish breakfast platter, Irish pub nachos, and the Reuben, which is made with corned beef cooked daily in Guinness.

click to enlarge Get yourself a schnitzel and some bottled bier at Haus Murphy's. - LAUREN CUSIMANO
Get yourself a schnitzel and some bottled bier at Haus Murphy's.
Lauren Cusimano

Best German Restaurant

Haus Murphy's
5739 West Glendale Avenue, Glendale

Okay, maybe German isn't the trendiest cuisine at the moment, but there's no denying its effectiveness as comfort food. The menu at Haus Murphy's in Historic Downtown Glendale is stocked with hearty, stick-to-your-ribs fare. We like to start with the giant Bavarian soft pretzel, which comes with butter, mustard, and (for an extra fee) cheese sauce. The schnitzels are the best in town; if you order the sampler plate, you'll get to try the chicken, paprika, and steak schnitzels, all of which are perfectly fried without being too heavy. Our final bit of advice? Come to Haus Murphy's on a mostly empty stomach — not just to enjoy the large portions, but also so you can sample the restaurant's impressive beer selection (and maybe a Black Forest torte).

The bar area at Francine. - JACKIE MERCANDETTI
The bar area at Francine.
Jackie Mercandetti

Best French Restaurant

4712 North Goldwater Boulevard, Scottsdale

Inside this lofty temple of breezy, white-painted woods, exposed rafters, and brassy accents, an elegant modern French restaurant hums. It's not elegant just because of the postcard bar with its smooth hewn-rock top and plant leaves jutting from atop the brass back bar. Francine unites coastal French cooking with strong influences from Spain and southern Italy, the dishes ranging from old to new. Brian Archibald cooks them with a true hand. Some of his highlights are a citrus-touched crab ravioli and a whole branzino baked in a salt crust. Archibald prepares textbook panisse, the classic French chickpea cake, but also mixes it up with dishes such as wood-roasted octopus with chorizo. In 2021, lots of French dining can feel sleepy, but Francine delivers a pleasant, galvanizing shock.
click to enlarge Virtu is best with friends. - DEBBY WOLVOS
Virtu is best with friends.
Debby Wolvos

Best Italian Restaurant

Virtù Honest Craft
3701 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale

Chef Gio Osso's restaurant, Virtù Honest Craft, serves funky amari flights. Gnocchi rolled with mesquite flour. Mains like duck breast in black garlic soubise. His skill and point of view in the Italian food arena would be unique for anywhere, and they certainly bring something to greater Phoenix's somewhat staid Italian food scene. Diners enjoy his fare at an intimate courtyard flanking a boutique inn, white tablecloths under string lights. The menu changes all the time. At any given moment, there are usually just a few pastas. He'll never cook, say, a classic like amatriciana. As with his take on grilled octopus, one highlighting fennel, chickpeas, and Calabrese chile butter, there's always some nice modern wrinkle.

click to enlarge The pastry case at Romanelli's Italian Deli - CHRIS MALLOY
The pastry case at Romanelli's Italian Deli
Chris Malloy

Best Italian Deli

3437 West Dunlap Avenue

There's pizza sauce, and then there's the house-brand pizza sauce we get from this west-side deli, a Phoenix tradition since 1975. Those in the know about Italian delis — and anyone too lazy to make their own red gravy — will tell you that Romanelli's pizza sauce is the best in town. So's the selection of Italian cheeses and cured meats, holiday candies and cookies, olive oils and pastas. They'll cater your next office party or bar mitzvah, and they'll serve you a delicious lunch to go, but what Romanelli's will mostly do is make you want to back up a truck and fill it with provolone balls and mostaccioli, cannoli and pizzelles. Maybe you'll be inspired to make your own, in which case this family-owned institution sells pizzelle irons, cheese-ballers, and cannoli shells.

click to enlarge The dining room at Pizzeria Virtú. - CHRIS MALLOY
The dining room at Pizzeria Virtú.
Chris Malloy

Best Neapolitan Pizza

Pizzería Virtu
6952 East Main Street, Scottsdale

For the better part of a decade now, Gio Osso has plated some of the Valley's most progressive Italian food. Now, he also blazes our very best Neapolitan pizza at Pizzería Virtu. Osso hews close to the ageless traditions of Naples, birthplace of pizza, including the signature puffy crust, micro-thin center, San Marzano tomatoes, and cooking each pie at volcanic heat. Technically, the pizza is almost without error. Toppings, though, are where Osso truly separates from the pack. He isn't afraid to do taleggio, truffle, trumpet mushrooms, and arugula. Or stracchino cheese with smoked pancetta, caramelized onion, and chestnut honey. These are heady, old-school ingredients arranged in thoughtful ways — resulting in truly excellent pizza.

click to enlarge Andreoli Italian Grocer's front counter, goods behind glass. - CHRIS MALLOY
Andreoli Italian Grocer's front counter, goods behind glass.
Chris Malloy

Best Pasta

Andreoli Italian Grocer
8880 East Via Linda, Scottsdale

The owner of Andreoli, Giovanni Scorzo, grew up in Italy's far south. The dry goods, pastries, meats and cheeses, and prepared foods he offers all reflect his link to Italy, which hits you with the smell of fresh-baked bread upon entering. Scorzo crafts all kinds of ingredients from scratch, including cured meats, cheese like mozzarella and burrata, and intricate pastries like sfogliatelle. Plated dishes include an all-star lineup of stalwarts from up and down Italy, including handmade ravioli. Slippery, the thin outer noodle soft, the fragrant fillings even softer, Scorzo's mushroom, veal, squash, and other ravioli channel the Old World. They conjure the humble home kitchens where dough crimps and flour clouds catch the light — the true spirit of pasta.

click to enlarge Charcuterie boards are meant for sharing during the game at The Sicilian Butcher. - MAGGIORE GROUP
Charcuterie boards are meant for sharing during the game at The Sicilian Butcher.
Maggiore Group

Best Boards

The Sicilian Butcher
15530 North Tatum Boulevard

Lately, charcuterie boards have risen to the level of art: Cheeses, meats, jams, and crackers get displayed so gorgeously that you stop to take a photo before digging in. The Sicilian Butcher definitely understands how a charcuterie board has a chance to make a memorable impression. There's not one, but four different choices for boards, everything from the Polenta board with meatballs, cheese, and toast points; the Cured Meat and Cheese board, which is accompanied by pickled vegetables and jams; and the over-the-top Sicilian in Strada, which delivers panelli fritters, potato croquette, craft meatballs with polenta, artisanal meats and cheeses, as well as jams. Served on a 5-foot-long board, it can easily feed a family or a group of friends. And while you're feasting, don't forget that happy hour is all day, every day; you likely won't regret pairing your charcuterie with a $6 glass of wine or $5 beer.