See also: 13 Favorite Cold Dishes in Metro Phoenix
Coppa di Testa Piccante Coppa Café 1300 S. Milton Road, #107 928-637-6813, CoppaCafe.net
Located in a nondescript strip mall on Flagstaff's traffic-choked main drag, this adorable European-style café has been flying under the radar for nearly two years now -- which means the average food lover who tastes Coppa's bread, charcuterie, and desserts (all housemade, all exceptional) for the very first time invariably has a dismayed "where've you been all my life?" moment. Husband-and-wife chef-owners Brian Konefal and Paola Fioravanti (he's savory, she's sweet) met in culinary school in Italy years ago, and their impressive résumés include stints at Robuchon, Aqua, Campton Place, and 11 Madison Park. It's impossible to name just one great thing to try here. You won't want to miss the flakiest, best open-face croissant sandwich imaginable, topped with bacon, poached eggs, and rich Hollandaise (found on lunch and brunch menus); or the amazing housemade tagliatelle with local, seasonal vegetables and grated cherry wood-smoked egg yolk at dinner (yep, you read that right: cured and smoked egg yolk, grated like a cheese over the top). Meanwhile, Paola's classic desserts (think custardy, crisp-edged cannales, and tiny, brownie-like chocolate bouchon) are simply outstanding. But for the truly geeky, the signature Coppa di Testa Piccante, served as an antipasto, is a must. This spicy pork terrine (head cheese, to be exact) is marinated in a dry rub of chiles, smoked paprika, and garlic, then braised for 17 hours and rolled up like a foie gras torchon. Thickly sliced and presented on a bed of lightly pickled fennel with a garnish of fennel seed and Moroccan harissa, its flavor profile brings Spanish chorizo to mind although its texture is softer and more unctuous ($11). Seconds, please!
Amore oi mari pizza Pizzicletta 203 W. Phoenix Ave. 928-774-3242, pizzicletta.com
Chef-owner Caleb Schiff loves bicycles and pizza, having ridden the former and sustained himself on the latter on his own self-guided tour through Italy a few years ago. He came home inspired, building his own domed, wood-burning oven from gleaming white tiles and finding a tiny, charming space in an historic, wedge-shaped building in the Southside District. Pizzicletta (a conflation of pizza and bicicletta) is the delicious result, built upon a short menu featuring three starters (cheese, salumi, and salad), five pizzas (three red, two white) and variously flavored, made-from-scratch gelatos based on Schiff's Italian friend's recipe. All the puffy, crisp-edged pies are first-rate, but our favorite is the amore oi mari, lavishly topped with mascarpone, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, Queen Creek Meyer lemon oil, and pecorino ($15). It feeds two, if you can bring yourself to share.