Ravioli, tortellini, spaghetti, macaroni, fusilli, lasagna, gnocchi, linguine, penne, farfalle. Regardless of how many pastas you can name, you can bet these following restaurants know exactly the best ways to serve them. Here are the Top 5 places in the Valley for delicious, sophisticated and authentic Italian fine dining. Buon appetito!
1 Veneto Trattoria Italiana
Did you know you can visit Venice without even leaving the Valley? At Veneto Trattoria, you can sample many authentic Venetian favorites, such as baccala mantecato, risottos with mushrooms and fegato alla Veneziana, also known as grilled calf's liver. They use authentic extra virgin olive oil from Tuscany in all their dishes and Executive Chef Massino Brunelli and other prominent staff members are Italian. The wine list here is lengthy, so you can be sure they'll have something to compliment whatever course you choose. Veneto Trattoria is our choice for cozy private family gatherings, maybe the next time you're getting relatives together or have a birthday to celebrate.
6137 N. Scottsdale Rd, Suite B115, Scottsdale, AZ 480.948.9928 web
Don't let the glamorous Old Hollywood decor fool you, this place is Italian, through and through. There's a piano lounge area with a black-and-white-checked floor and squared-off bar, and private dining rooms with retro posters lining the walls. All the dramatic flair makes Avanti our choice for a fun date night when we're in the mood for great Italian in a setting oozing with personality. Others seem to agree, because since the restaurant's opening in 1974, it's garnered accolades from Mobil Travel Guide, Zagat Survey and others, and was also awarded America’s Top Table Award by Gourmet Magazine. For a romantic evening, you'll find Osetra caviar, oysters on the half shell, lobster and seafood ravioli, and plenty of other tasty dishes to rev your senses.
2728 E. Thomas Rd., Phoenix, AZ 602.956.0900 web
3 Tutti Santi
Tutti Santi Ristorante Italiano by Nina is a wonderful choice for a low-key, romantic evening. With the elegant lighting, a superbly polite wait staff and top-notch fare, a meal at Tutti Santi is just as relaxing as it is exquisite. Chef Nina Vincenti's pasta is homemade, and everything from the ravioli to the carpaccio di bue has flavor, flavor, flavor. Ordering one of the classic desserts -- creme brulee, cannoli, tiramisu -- is an absolute must.
7575 N. 16th St. Phoenix, AZ 602.216.0336 web
How's this for a setting: A multimillion-dollar Tuscan-styled villa replete with Old World architecture and seating under the stars, nestled at the base of Pinnacle Peak? That's where you'll be enjoying your meal at Sassi, a restaurant serving rustic Southern Italian cuisine such as veal chops, octopus and fresh-made pizzas and pastas. If you or anyone you know is looking to lock down a venue for a wedding reception, corporate event or other large dinner, Sassi is a safe and smart bet.
10455 Pinnacle Peak Parkway, Scottsdale, AZ 480.502.9095 web
5 Marcellino Ristorante
Want wine? They've got quality wine: everything from lovely red and whites from Italy by the glass, to a 98-point, 2001 "Verticale" Valdicava Brunello di Montalcino ($460) in their reserve collection. Want handmade pasta? They've got handmade pasta: fettucine contadina, gnocchi sorrentina, red linguine portefino, tagliolini mare e monte. Just saying all the names of the dishes out loud makes you feel more Italian, doesn't it? The roasted pork tenderloin and lamb chops al balsamico are also to die for, but the filet mignon con tartufo with Barolo wine reduction sauce and lightly drizzled truffle oil has stolen our heart.
7114 E. Stetson Dr., Suite 110, Scottsdale, AZ 480.990.9500 web