Parma Italian Roots isn't your Italian of red sauce and fried calamari. Parma isn't even your standard new-age regional Italian restaurant. The 65-seat restaurant in North Scottsdale, which will be opening on Friday, September 21, looks to be something new.
The restaurant will be overseen by Chris Gentile, who is just in his late 20s. He comes to Scottsdale from San Diego, where he has run Double Standard Kitchenette.
And he is making food utterly from scratch.
That includes the likes of salumi, cured Italian meats. "I'll have my own charcuterie program going," he says, one that will include coppa, loma, pancietta, guanciale, and, next year, prosciutto.
The Italian city of Parma is widely known as the best prosciutto town in the world. Parma is just one town in the greater region Emilia-Romagna, the region considered by most Italians to have the best food in Italy. It contains Bologna – called la grassa cittá, "the fat city" – as well as Modena, home to Osteria Francescana, recently rated the best restaurant in the world for a second time.
Gentile admires the craftsmanship of the food of Parma, and of its greater region. He named his restaurant for the town because it reflects the intensity of the approach he takes to food, an intensity rarely seen applied to Italian food in the Valley.
Gentile's brand of Italian is best described as modern regional Italian with West Coast elements. This isn't Italian-American food. This isn't Italian-Italian food, either.
There will be several pastas made in-house. They will be made from 00 flour, semolina flour, or a blend of the two, depending on the shape and whether the pasta, like ravioli, has a filling. For gluten-free folks, there will be fresh pasta shaped from a masa-like corn dough.
There will be pizza. "I have my own style and way of proofing dough that I would call California-Neapolitan," he says. Unconventionally, he uses both honey and malt powder in his dough.
And at the end of the day, when the wood embers are glowing and the restaurant is shutting down, Gentile will cook vegetables like leeks in the pizza oven's dying fire.
Gentile's approach to Italian food is informed by old Italy and New Nordic cuisine. Like the gastronomic titans of northern Europe, Gentile likes to forage and embraces unconventionally cooking methods. He forages for rare Italian vegetables, like agretti.
The restaurant is tiled, mirrored, polished. Gentile designed much of the room himself. Tabletops are wooden for now, but some marble will be coming soon. A small patio faces north.
A bar boomerangs at the front of the room. Its highlight will be house-made Italian-style amari. Gentile aims to source wine largely from California, but also quirky regional varietals from Italy, and even from Mexico's molten hot Valle de Guadalupe.
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Happy hour prices will be offered throughout service during the opening weekend from Friday to Sunday. Half off pizza. Draft wine for $5.
If you dig serious Italian food, this is a promising opening.
Parma Italian Roots. 20831 North Scottsdale Road, #117, Scottsdale; 480-292-9900.
Sunday to Thursday 3:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 3:30 to 10:30 p.m.