Italian food has the range to delight in the summer and comfort in the colder months. You don't need to be told that it's one of the world's great cuisines. Anyone who has ever chomped into a hot pizza, slurped well-cooked spaghetti, or felt buffalo mozzarella dissolve on the tongue already knows. Phoenix's Italian food scene also has range. At the high end are some truly surprising options. If you're looking for a heady dose of flavors straight out of the central Mediterranean boot, check out one of these five tantalizing options.
The Sicilian Butcher in Scottsdale
Joey Maggiore, who until now was the chef at Hash Kitchen, has opened a new Italian restaurant in Scottsdale called The Sicilian Butcher. Sicilian cuisine combines Italian, Spanish, Greek, Arabic, and African flavors. You won't find much Sicilian food in the Valley's restaurants, or in the country's. At this spot opened just last week, Maggiore serves a range of craft meatballs, fresh pastas, and Sicilian street food. Always one for spectacular visuals, he totes out meat-and-cheese boards that are 5 feet long. Come hungry.
Sacred Pi in Tempe
Sacred Pi, a pizzeria in Tempe that fired up its brick oven in July, hand-pulls its own mozzarella. It also takes house-made to the next level: Sandwich bread is baked to-order in the pizza oven. Pizza is Neapolitan-style and veers from Margherita and into buffalo, barbecue, and Greek territory. In addition to pizza, Sacred Pi offers starters, soups, salads, and a rotating chef's special (like sweet potato gnocchi).
LAMP Pizzeria in North Scottsdale
LAMP Pizzeria in North Scottsdale fires some of the best pizzas in Metro Phoenix. Matt Pilato does not adhere to any particular school of pizza. He simply does what tastes best. "We're looking for a soft interior, thick walls, and chew," Matt says. "I shoot for more structure on my pizza so it holds up more to the sauce and cheese." The Rapini pizza is a stunner. It comes with four kinds of cheese, a blend of flours that give the crust rambunctious body and chew, and toppings including broccoli rabe, pine nuts, chiles, red onions, and sausages stuffed with Pecorino and booze.
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Quartiere in Tempe
Quartiere has opened in the Tempe space once home to neighborhood standby Riazzi's Italian Garden. Owner Erick Geryol says that Quartiere aims to update the old breed of Italian that Riazzi’s had cooked for more than half a century. Menu highlights include a somewhat classic Bolognese, made from more than five kinds of meat (including chicken liver). Some pastas are made in house. Cocktails use ingredients like Campari, walnut and fennel liqueur, and fig vodka.
Myke’s Pizza in Mesa
In October 2016, Myke Olsen launched a one-man pizza pop-up outside of what is now Mezona Market. Olsen, two gas-fired pizza ovens, several boxes of proofing dough, and an ice tray full of toppings are the entire operation. The pop-up, called Myke’s Pizza, was retired for the summer back in May. But as of late October, Olsen is up and running, baking great Neapolitan-style pies in downtown Mesa. All you really need to know is that Myke might be the next great Phoenix pizza-maker.