In Metro Phoenix, a Classic Pasta Plate That Never Goes Out of Style

This pasta plate is on the dinner menu at a classic Italian restaurant in Phoenix.
This pasta plate is on the dinner menu at a classic Italian restaurant in Phoenix. Jackie Mercandetti
Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.

47: Linguine Carbonara at Avanti

Hunting for the latest, most interesting food and drink spots is something of an obsession for the modern-day gastronome. But in the search for the latest and greatest, it can be easy to overlook the classic neighborhood restaurants that have been nourishing us for generations. Avanti is that kind of classic neighborhood haunt, a white-tablecloth Italian restaurant that opened on Thomas Road in 1974 and introduced many Phoenicians to the virtues of butter-sluiced escargot and desserts like tiramisu, a dish once seen as vaguely exotic.

Avanti, with its half-booths upholstered in zebra stripes, black-and-white checkered floors and dimly lit, date-night-ready interior, is the most pleasant kind of retro throwback. It's also a good place to rediscover classic Italian fine dining in the Valley. You probably can't get more classic than the restaurant's linguine carbonara. The recipe is as well-preserved and timeless as Avanti itself: just pancetta, egg yolk, onions, and peas, bound together to pleasing, extra-creamy effect. Not too eggy, not too salty, and not too rich, the linguine carbonara is a perennial favorite from one of the Valley's most enduring Italian restaurants.

The Essentials so far:

50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.

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Patricia Escárcega was Phoenix New Times' food critic.

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