Sfizio Modern Italian Kitchen brings a taste of Italy to north Phoenix.

Father and son Rocco and Marco Pezzano are no strangers to owning and operating Italian restaurants. In the summer of 2021 after a few years out of the business they were drawn back in and opened Sfizio Modern Italian Kitchen in the Desert Ridge neighborhood of North Phoenix. Sfizio is Italian for “you don’t need it, but you want it” or a “craving” and you’ll want this authentic Italian cooking.

Rocco was born in southern Italy’s Calabria region and moved to Torino at 16 working in his aunt’s bakery and pizzeria. In 1986 after visiting family in the United States he re-located to Arizona and opened “That’s Italian” and “Caffe Italy” in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Marco, an architecture student at ASU often worked in the restaurants growing up and learned to love it the way his father does. Like many in the industry Rocco got burnt out and started a wholesale company opting for a desk job.

Young Marco noticed his dad, although successful, wasn’t happy and had a “unspoken passion” for owning his own restaurant, inspired him to get back in the kitchen. That was 2019 and the idea for Sfizio Modern Italian Kitchen started to become a reality. Mom Zee and Marco’s sister round out the family and can be found at the restaurant when not working or in school.

The food at Sfizio Modern Italian Kitchen

All the food at Sfizio is scratch made with all the ingredients imported from throughout Italy. Fresh bread and pizza dough is made twice a day and pasta is made in house every day. Popular dishes include the seafood Frutti Di Mare with shellfish tossed in a spicy red sauce over squid ink pasta, plump Lobster Ravioli and Pollo Parmigina. Pizza Napoletana get tossed and baked in the brick oven in full view of the bar and dining room. Salads, small plates, entrees, antipasto boards and pizzas are served daily at dinner. The lunch menu includes pizza, sandwiches and a couple of pastas until 3 p.m. A full bar is available as is a mostly Italian wine list.

By the time you read this a new menu should be introduced including “The Original Sfizini” available during lunch.  Created by Rocco, hollowed out fresh bread is filled with classic Italian ingredients. Sausage & Peppers, Chicken Cacciatore and Eggplant Parmigiana are just a few of the fillings. Make sure you save room for classic Italian desserts of cannoli, tiramisu and more

Sfizio Modern Italian Kitchen is open daily Monday – Friday at 11 a.m. Dinner starts at 4 p.m. 7 days a week. Happy hour is available daily in the bar. Find them at 21050 N. Tatum Blvd. Phoenix 85050. Visit their website for more information and to view the menus.

Italian Association of Arizona brings a taste of Italy to Scottsdale

Scottsdale City Hall will be the place to be on Saturday, November 6th if you like Italian wine and pizza. The Italian Association of Arizona presents the first annual Italian Pizza & Wine Festival as a preview of the Italian Festival coming on February 26th & 27th 2022. In addition to pizza & wine, the family friendly festival will offer imported beer, Italian sandwiches and plenty of entertainment and Italian culture.

Francesco Guzzo, Executive Director of the Italian Association of Arizona, said: “We want to give families an opportunity to come out this Fall, and simply have fun for a day outside, and eat what might be Italy’s most popular food, pizza!”

Fabio on Fire, Bored Baker Pizza Maker and Ri de Roma are a few tossing fresh handmade pizza. Hand crafted sandwiches and other Italian foods will be available for purchase from Sogno Toscano and Lulu’s Sorbetto. Classico Fine Wines will be pouring tastes of Italian wines and Peroni & craft beers will be available for beer drinkers. Street musicians, face painters, live music and more will entertain festival goers all day.

“And anything worth celebrating in Italy comes with fantastic wines, and beer – Peroni!  Add the excellent Italian and Italian-American musical entertainment, some roving acts for the kids, and it lends the perfect excuse to come out and support our fabulous Italian pizza makers.” says Guzzo.

The Italian Pizza & Wine Festival goes from 12:00- 9:00 p.m. and tickets are $10 online and $15 at the door. Children under 12 are free and there is a 20% discount for Italian Association members. All proceeds go to the association.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Platform 18 at Century Grand on 50 Best Discovery list

The Arcadia Lite cocktail bar made the prestigious list and it’s the first time an Arizona restaurant or bar has made the list. The list is compiled by 50 Best and is an extension of the global list of 50 best bars & restaurants. Global experts approve the restaurants and bars around the world with 2,000 establishments making their original list before cutting it down to the final 50. Restaurants don’t apply for consideration but qualify from receiving a significant amount of votes from current round of polling. Downtown Phoenix’s Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour also made the list.

Sphinx Date Ranch Co. celebrates 70th anniversary

The downtown Scottsdale retailer of locally made foods, wines & more is celebrating with special items, discounts and Mayor David Ortega proclaiming September 16th – 18th as “Sphinx Date Co. Days”. Guests can get 20% off orders of $20 or more when using promo code 1951, the year it opened. The discount goes until September 23rd and special 20th anniversary merchandise will help raise money for the Scottsdale Historical Society. For more information visit their website.

Pedal Haus Brewery release Oktoberfest beer and menu

The downtown Tempe & Chandler brewpub today release their seasonal beer and food menu. Beer brats, pork schnitzel and more are on the menu with the Tempe location also serving a special Flammkuchen pizza. An Oktoberfest celebration is scheduled for October 2nd in Chandler.

Match Market & Bar offer wine class & agave pairing dinner

Wednesday September 15th you can learn about wines from Southern Italy & Sicily while tasting the wines of the region. The downtown Phoenix tasting starts at 7 p.m. and is $25 per person and includes tasting note & pairings, light bites and wine samples. Wines tasted that night can be purchased by the bottle at 15% off.

The 4 -course agave pairing dinner takes place on Friday September 17th from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. The chef crafted menu will complement the different types of agave. Cost is $109++ per person and includes a welcoming Corralejo Reposado at arrival.

Caracara Restaurant delays opening til January 2022

The signature restaurant at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown hotel has delayed the opening until 2022. The restaurant was expected to open this month but with Delta variant of Covid-19 on the rise management opted for the safety and health of employees & guests. Check back for updates and to see what you can expect read my post from July.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Fat Ox offers a truffle filled weekend in the Italian countryside, kind of.

Just back from northern Italy executive chef & co-owner Matt Carter is wasting no time showing off his bounty. It’s truffle season and Carter’s putting together an Italian inspired dinner using the white and black treasures.

The dinners will be on a special menu from Thurs. Nov. 8th – 11th. The rustic Italian dinner will take Carter back to his recent expedition in the Italian countryside.

Carbonara Tajarin with white truffle, Parmesan, pancetta

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Wild Salmon with black truffle, salsify, Meyer lemon, mushroom crumble

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Fior de Latte Gelato with fresh-shaved white truffle

Or

Add to any entrée (market price)

For more information or to make a reservation call 480-307-6900 or visit www.IloveFatOx.com

Fat Ox is at 6316 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85253.

 

 

 

 

What grape is that…..?

Rondinella is a red grape found in the northern part of Italy, in the Veneto region. It’s usually blended with the Corvina grape. It is used to make Valpolicella and Bardolino wines.

Pedro Ximinez (PX) is a white grape found in Spain and is used to make sweet, dessert style Sherry. It’s also found in Chile and Argentina where it’s the most widely white grape there. It’s also grown in Australia where it’s used to make fortified wines. Originally found in the Canary Islands it was brought to Spain by a soldier named… Pedro Ximinez.

Tannat is a red grape found in the southwest part of France and it’s also the most widely planted grape in Uruguay. It’s also found in other countries in South America and experimented with in Virginia and is seeing increased plantings in California. In France it’s usually blended with fuller bodied wines to soften it up and make it more drinkable. Tannat has raspberry overtones and can age well. In Uruguay it has more blackberry overtones and softer tannins with more elegance.

What grape is that….?

In a continuing effort to familiarize people with lesser known varieties of grapes grown around the world I present you with this next installment.

PLOUSSARD also called POULSARD is a thin skinned grape found in the Jura region of eastern France. It’s light color makes it ideal for Vin Gris and even for making of white wines.

FRAPPATO is a red grape found mostly on the island of Sicily and is related to Sangiovese and other Italian varieties. It’s a lighter bodied wine with fruity aromas. Coincidentally, there is also a Italian white grape called FRAPPATO too.

AIREN is a white grape found mostly Spain and has the distinction of being the most widely grown grape in the world.

NORTON is native to North America and is a red grape found mostly in Mid Atlantic and Mid Western region of the United States. It’s the state grape of Missouri and widely planted in Virginia.

Wines of Croatia & Slovenia



Some of the most exciting new wines coming to the United States are the delicious and racy wines from Eastern European countries such as Croatia & Slovenia. Situated on the north and eastern side of the Adriatic Sea and across from Italy both countries have centuries of wine making tradition that has only recently become evident in the U.S. Making both wines from grapes only found in their respected countries and grapes that are internationally known, both Croatia and Slovenia wines are being widely accepted by great retailers and restaurants around the country. Many are practicing natural methods of wine making using only grapes and natural yeast, which allows for the terroir to speak through the wine. So don’t be surprised to see some of these wines at your local wine shop or restaurant. And more importantly give them a try.

Coronica Malvasia is a crisp, acidic white wine that offers good fruit, minerality and is a well balanced food wine. Grown in nutrient rich soil & near the sea, it benefits from the Mediterranean climate found in the Istrian region of northern Croatia. This wine would go great with both fish and lighter fare foods. Retails for about $20.

Kabaj Sivi Pinot is known as pinot grigio outside of Slovenia and is made by Frenchman Jean Michel Morel and his wife Katja Kabaj at there western Slovenian winery, not far from Collio Italy. The Kabaj family has been selling grapes for generations and only started making wine in the 1993 after Slovenia disbanded from Yugoslavia. With vineyards near the Italian border, Kabaj makes wine in a very old world style using clay vats (called “Qveri amphora”) for fermenting and aging in some of their wines.
This full bodied pinot is crisp, lively and dry also shows good fruit and complexity rarely found in pinot grigio’s. It is aged for a year in oak and held back 3 years prior to release. It would go well with shellfish, cheese’s and fruits. Retail is about $20.

Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana is molto bene(very good)!!

Every so often a restaurant comes along that’s all the rage. Usually it has a celebrity chef in the kitchen, some unique concept or cuisine or delicacies. They tend to be trends for a year or two until the next one comes along. Rarely is all the rage about something simple say…. pizza. Yes, pizza. Dough, tomato, cheese & sometimes toppings. Phoenix has a lot of really good pizza establishments, some award winning and some just really good. Most have their claim to fame of wood burning oven, coal burning oven, ingredients direct from Italy, locally grown ingredients, etc, etc.

Along comes Pomo the most recent entry into the Phoenix pizza scene. It was brought to my attention by a friend of mine who does not like pizza because he remembers his days studying in Italy and the pizza he had there. Phoenix has never had the traditional very thin crust that needs to be eaten with a fork and knife. He’s been there no less than 10 times and I’ve been there 3, but who’s counting. And Pomo has only been around for less than 3 months.

Located at The Borgata in Scottsdale(Scottsdale Rd. & Rose Ln.) in a spot that has been a revolving door of restaurants in years past, Pomo is sure to see that the revolving door has stopped revolving. The generous menu of antipasti, insalate(salads), panini(sandwich) and pizza’s. 14 pizza’s with sauce and various toppings and 6 Pizze Bianche(white pizza)and something you don’t see very often, fried pizza.

Owned by native Italian, Stefano who had a desire for true authentic pizza of his homeland. So authentic so it’s certified by Vera Pizza Napoletana Assoc. following there guidelines and that of Italian government and European Union. Do they take there pizza seriously or what in Italy! Pizzas take only 60-90 seconds in the 950 degree wood burning oven. Most of the ingredients…flour, tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil & Parmigiano Reggiano are imported from their respected regions in Italy.

Upon my visits we’ve had for starters caprese(mozzarella ,tomatoes & basil), bruschetta(homemade bread,tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and even tried a frita(fried pizza). The thin crust and quick frying really gives this a unique taste and way to eat folded dough, cheese & sauce.
As for pizza’s on one visit we kept it simple with Regina Margherita($11.95) San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil and Parmigiano Reggiano. we also enjoyed Bufala($16.95) using the same ingredients as the Margherita except the mozzarella come from buffalo milk, not cow’s milk. and yes you can taste the difference. On another visit we chose the Donna Rosa($15.95) a white pizza using homemade pesto sauce and topped with roasted shrimp. mozzarella and cherry tomatoes. On of my favorites is the Capricciosa($14.95) which is topped with artichoke hearts,prosciutto sauteed mushrooms,cotto(ham)and Gaeta olives. Molto bene, molto bene!!

On 2 occasion we saved room for dessert and we tried tiramisu($7.95) an Italian classic that is light, fluffy and soaked in espresso. I would also recommend the Croccante($7.95) a nut basket filled with mascarpone cream and topped with fresh, seasonal fruit. It reminded me of a toasted almond bar that I loved as a youth.
Pomo also has a diverse, mostly Italian wine and beer list and some mostly Italian spirits.

So sometimes all the rage can be targeted at something so simple and easy that it gets often overlooked. It’s a good thing Pomo is opened 7 days a week from 11am-9pm Sun.-Thurs and until 10pm on Fri. and Sat. Pomo is located at 6166 N. Scottsdale Rd. in Scottsdale 480-998-1366.
4.5 corks out of 5 corks!!
Ciao!

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