The Spot: Pasta Brioni
4416 North Miller Road, Scottsdale
The Hours: Happy hour is from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 4:30 to close Sunday through Wednesday, at the bar only.
Perfect For: Pairing fine Italian dining with a nice glass of wine for $15 or less. Bringing a friend is optional – you might not want to share.
The Interior: Pasta Brioni has a small to-go area, a fine dining room with white tablecloths, and an adjacent bar, with about 15 bar stools and a handful of small booths. You’ll want to head to the latter, which is your standard old-school, dark wood, comfortable cocktail lounge, and the only place where happy hour is available. The décor is nothing fancy, but if you’re looking for eye candy, you might not need to look past your server. Many of the male staff, affectionately known as the “Brioni Boyz,” are a Scottsdale staple, and even put out a calendar each year.
The Food: The bar menu features many of the restaurant’s favorites, from eggplant rollantine to spaghetti and meatballs, for $10 and under. We ordered the former, which was smothered in marinara and mozzarella, baked, and served with a medley of grilled vegetables. At $7 (normally $9.50), it was a great value; unique and delicious, plus big enough to be your dinner or share as an appetizer. We also got the bar mussels ($9), which came in their house “marechiara” sauce. Not for nothing, but we’d order a bowl of that sauce by itself and call it soup, if they’d let us.
The Drinks: So enchanted were we with our delightful bartender, our tasty meal, and the occasional passing Brioni Boy, that we totally forgot to order our drink off the happy hour menu. Instead, we wound up splurging on an Aperol Spritz, which was good, but not on special. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake, because wines are $5 by the glass, beers are $3.50 and $4.50 for domestic and imported bottles, and well liquors are $5. This isn’t the place for a craft cocktail anyway – you’ll feel much more at home with a glass of wine, or something “on the rocks.”
Conclusion: Pasta Brioni is the Cheers of the Italian restaurant world. Your bartender is almost guaranteed to be reliable, ready to lend an ear, and ridiculously good-looking. The food is great and the price is right, but better than that is the restaurant’s warm, welcoming atmosphere. When you’re here, you’re going to feel like family. Which might be uncomfortable, given how attractive your new relatives are.
Don’t Miss: Hitting Pasta Brioni on a weeknight, when happy hour extends until closing time.
Skip This: Bringing a group. Happy hour is offered at the bar stools only, so unless you snag a corner you’ll be sitting single file, which might make it hard to socialize.