Thursday, October 18, 2012

We’ve Arrived in Phoenix…

where for the foreseeable future, the temperatures will exceed 100◦. Now I don’t know about you, but when it is that hot I don’t want to do much of anything. So our immediate plans are restricted to visiting with our Aunt Evelyn and our cousin Raina and her husband Jesse.

And eating. Of course.

We start our culinary visit with a trip to what may be our favorite restaurant anytime, any where—Andreoli Italian Grocer. I don’t know who Mario Paolo Ziccarelli is, but he is quoted extensively on Andreoli’s website. He writes: “Hidden amidst a rudimentary Scottsdale shopping center is a gift from the culinary gods to the rest of society, that gift is Andreoli’s Italian Grocer. From the exterior Andreoli’s appears to be an upscale deli, but once you step inside it’s as if you have be transported into the heart of Italy. The aroma of homemade Italian delicacies wafts across the quaint yet rustic dining area, until the urge to indulge in a few entrees becomes unbearable.

“Andreoli’s true greatness lies behind the counter where one of a kind chef Giovanni Scorzo, turns simple every day ingredients into culinary art. Gianni’s passion for food emanates from him, and it becomes quite evident why his cuisine is a once in a lifetime experience for any patron.

“Andreoli’s combination of the essential elements of any restaurant has come together in fashion rarely seen. The ideal ambiance, illustrious chef, and immaculate cuisine have combined to form one of the most impressive restaurants Scottsdale has ever had the pleasure to house” (

While we probably prefer some items on the menu over the others, we have yet to order something that we didn’t like. And since we have eaten at Andreoli at least a half dozen times and have tasted numerous dishes, there are some that are absolute “must eats.” One of these is the Calamaretti Del Sacrestano or marinated and grilled calamari.
“The Calamaretti del Sacrestano is a grilled preparation, soft and charred and bathed in lemon, olive oil and the squid's natural essence—so much of it that it'll take half a loaf of bread (made in house, by the way) to mop it all up, and you'll want to” (

The grilling leaves a slightly smoky and charred taste which in turn is transferred from squid to the olive oil, red wine vinegar, and parsley puddle upon which the calamari sits. And yes, you do want to use the restaurant’s light and crusty bread to wipe every drop from the plate.

Our second “must eat” is the Patatine Fritte or Italian French fries—deep-fried potatoes and leeks served with Giovanni-style tartar sauce.
Again quoting from “…I'm especially fond of Scorzo's patatine fritte, which are in the running for my favorite fried potatoes of all time. Forget the focus on crispness that dominates fried potato cookery in the States. These are fried in olive oil and there's nothing crisp about them. But they taste like potatoes, and fabulous ones at that. The crispness comes from the accompanying fried leeks which, along with a remoulade-like dip, make me glad Francesca talked me into ordering them.” The Giovanni sauce is a mix of mayo, olives, and anchovies and can be addictive by itself. As I wrote in a blog a few years ago, it is almost a travesty to call these French fries. McDonalds makes French fries. Andreoli makes Patatine Fritte.

For the main part of his meal, Chuck ordered the Porchetta sandwich that came with a small side salad of mixed greens. Tucked inside a roll that had a nice crust, but soft while chewy interior, sat thin slices of roasted pork that had been seasoned with garlic, fennel, and black pepper.
This is one of the menu items that showcases the genius—yes, I said genius and without exaggeration—of Giovanni Scorzo. Fennel can be an overpowering taste, and we at times find that when it is used in Italian sausage you would think you were eating a licorice stick. But here the fennel is secondary to the garlic and black pepper. You know it is there, but it doesn’t overpower. The small salad was made with leafy greens lightly bathed in a mild olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing.

I chose the Bresaola salad. Under a layer of air cured beef and shaved parmigiano was arugula dressed in the same fashion as Chuck’s salad.
“Bresaola is salt-cured, air-dried beef, an Italian specialty that has been around since Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa. Unlike prosciutto or pancetta, other cured meat products, bresaola has the unique quality of being extremely lean, with little or no visible fat.

“Originating from the Valtellina Valley region of northern Italy, bresaola is most typically made from lean cuts of beef such as the eye of round. All visible fat is trimmed from the meat, which is then massaged with a rub containing coarse salt and various seasonings…. After salting, the bresaola is cleaned, then air dried for a period of days. After this step, it is hung and left to cure for perhaps up to three months. The bigger the piece of meat, the longer it will take to cure. Ultimately, nearly half of the weight of the meat will be lost—water weight that escapes during the drying and curing process” (

The salad was a circus of flavors. You had intensely deep-flavored meat. You had peppery arugula. You had sharp and salty parmigiano. And you had a bit of acid from the red wine vinegar in the salad dressing. This was delicious.

Andreoli is truly “il sapore e la qualita di un tempo”—the taste and quality of the past. Thank heaven, Giovanni Scorzo has brought it to the present.

We finally tore Kitty Humbug away from the soccer game with a promise to return—and soon—for another 5.0 Addie meal.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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