Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How Many Visits Will it Take . . .

for me to eat my way through Andreoli’s menu?

This small Italian deli and café, reviewed in our April 1st blog, has quickly become my favorite place to eat in the Phoenix area. Is it the rustic Italian farmhouse atmosphere? Is it the friendly staff? Is it the fantastic but simple food? Yes.

Following our morning at the botanical garden with our cousin Raina and a side stop at The Soda Shop for two cases of Blenheim’s red cap ginger ale*, it was time for lunch. Chuck and I had earlier debated whether it would be a stop at Oregano’s Italian Bistro for a Margherita-style pizza or a return to Andreoli. Wanting to share our discovery with someone who would appreciate its charm, we decided that Andreoli it would be.

As on our first visit, I had a hard time making a decision. Everything sounds wonderful – even those items made with eggplant—and I am no fan of eggplant. Chuck stayed with the Campioni del Mondo (focaccia with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil)

and Raina chose my earlier selection – the Saporito (prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, avocado, fresh tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and oregano on a crusty sub roll).

I wanted to try something new.

On our earlier visit, I had been intrigued by my ultimate choice today, the Porchetta (pork roasted with garlic and fennel), although the Forza Italia (speck prosciutto, gorgonzola, mascarpone, and arugula) also sounded enticing. Maybe on another trip. But Raina and I didn’t want to stop there. She added an order of Calamaretti di Suora Celeste (fresh deep fried calamari) and I added the Patatine Fritte (deep fried potato and leeks described as Italian french fries).

There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the food that Andreoli sends out from what appears to be a small kitchen. The Patatine Fritte took the concept of french fries to new heights. The addition of thin and crisply fried leek strips gave extra levels of earthy flavor to the crisp potatoes. This came with a dipping sauce that none of us used, lest we hide the true taste of the potatoes and leeks.

The calamari were perfect. Thinly battered and fried until crisp but not rubbery, the order contained both the rings and small whole squid. Guess which pieces I grabbed?

The Porchetta sandwich was simply amazing. The roasted pork was sliced so thin to be almost shaved; the flavors of garlic, fennel, and black pepper permeated each bite, but none obscured the meat’s taste; and the sandwich came on the same crusty sub roll as did the Saporito. (Did I mention that Andreoli makes all of their breads and desserts?)

And who can resist their wicked dessert case? Certainly not us. Chuck and Raina were sent on the scouting mission and returned with the beautiful plate shown here piled high with meringue, chocolate chunks, chopped hazel nuts, and a creamy filling that had to have been made with mascarpone cheese. We probably all had an afternoon long sugar rush, but it was worth every forkful.

There are twenty-eight items on the regular menu – and this does not include the daily specials – and I have only sampled five, plus the two desserts. In the interest of scientific research, I feel obligated to, at some point, eat the other twenty-three.

And chef-owner Giovanni Scorzo is very serious about the food he serves--very serious.

It should come as no surprise that we again give Andreoli our highest rating of 5.0 Addies.

*Described on the Blenheim’s web site as: “Our boldest flavor that tantalizes and tingles the taste buds, and goes down as smoothly as a firecracker exploding in your throat. Some say its sinus-clearing heat snatches their breath away for a bit, while others thrive on the explosion of spicy ginger essence.” This is ginger ale for adults.

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