It's hard to find authentic Italian and Greek cuisine that also has an original flair, but Mike's Rigatoni Bistro in Peoria delivers both - and with delicious results. Reminiscent of a cozy Venetian café, the spot serves hearty but unique Mediterranean fare, from flaming Saganaki (lightly battered Greek kefalograviera (salty sheep's milk cheese) baked in butter and lit (literally -- with Orzo liqueur) to an array of fresh pastas and generous Italian sandwiches.
Most everything on the menu is around $10, but the lunch menu, served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, offers tasty choices for the diner on a budget: for $7.99, order panini like the Club Italiano, a pita like the Chicken Portobello, or of course, the generous Rigatoni Carbonara. The price also includes a choice of light pasta salad, Greek salad or shoestring fries, and though a drink isn't included, the portions are liberal and the dishes are made to order.
We ordered the Marco Polo panini, a plentiful pile of grilled pancetta, turkey breast, asparagus, basil and mozzarella on thick focaccia, with the pasta salad. The pancetta was incredibly fresh, with very little fat; the basil was strong and zesty, and under all that melted mozzarella, the asparagus added a refreshing crunch. The bread was a little greasy, but not soggy, and the pasta salad was packed with lightly oiled artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, capers, feta, cucumbers, green peppers, and pungent pepperoncinis.
What we liked best: Lunch would've been under $10 had we not tried a helping of the eatery's delectable mini cannoli (2 for $1.99). Packed with rich rum-hinted cinnamon ricotta and tiny chocolate shavings, the petite portion was perfect. Next time, we're coming back for their famous tiramisu - a luscious slice of vanilla or chocolate flavored sponge cake soaked with espresso and rum and layered with lady fingers and mascarpone cheese.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.