Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quote of the Day:

“We make everything here except money” (Giovanni Scorzo, December 2013).

Our travel plans for the last half of this year were based on two events. The first was in Sun City, CA for Chuck’s Aunt Margaret’s 100th birthday. The second was in the Phoenix area to be with Chuck’s cousin Raina and her husband Jesse to attend the Annual Christmas Party at Andreoli Italian Market. Giovanni Scorzo is the proprietor and chef at Andreoli (named for Mr. Scorzo’s mother)

“Giovanni Scorzo is a character, a good-natured, highly opinionated, storytelling Italian whose irrepressible personality gives life to
Andreoli. His comfortably cluttered market-cum-restaurant, furnished with various and sundry antique tables and chairs, is far more casual (and therefore, far more fun) than Leccabaffi, the upscale Italian restaurant he sold…. Here, Scorzo is in his element, face-to-face with his customers as he teases, cajoles and chides them unmercifully. ‘You again?’ he says to a regular; or, ‘No sauce for the calamari!’ (educating the poor slob who’s requested marinara); or, ‘Try this, you’re going to love it,’ pressing an unfamiliar dish on a neophyte” (phoenixmag.com).

Andreoli is in the top five of Chuck and my favorite restaurants anywhere. While I understand that Leccabaffi was fine dining/white table cloth, Andreoli is just the opposite. It is “…cluttered with Italian wines, foodstuffs and antique tables and chairs” (Nikki Buchanan at azfamily.com).
In what I think was my first blog regarding this restaurant, I described the experience as “eating in a Tuscan country kitchen.”

But it is the food that keeps us coming back. Complex in its simplicity, it shows that Scorzo is a maestro who respects the basic nature of the ingredients with which he works. Therefore, no marinara with the calamari. And virtually everything served is made in house:“…bread…sausage and salumi as well as …panini, arancini,
pizza, Caprese, breseola, carpaccio and a handful of terrific daily specials…” (Nikki Buchanan at azfamily.com).

“An American father teaches his kid how to ride a bike; an Italian father teaches his kid how to make salumi, the broad array of seasoned and cured pork products that make Italian delis worth seeking out. Since Andreoli opened, …it has been the gold standard Italian grocer for both imported and handmade pastas, crusty Italian bread and mouthwatering Italian sweets. Now it’s the place for handmade, knock-your-socks-off-delicious salumi…using recipes handed down from his family. Some, like the velvety prosciutto, take as long as eight months to cure. Others, like the spicy, garlicky sopressata, take three months” (phoenixmag.com).

The four of us arrived on the designated Saturday and proceeded to indulge ourselves in what became almost four hours of gustatory bliss. The indoor dining area—the Tuscan country kitchen—had been transformed into a giant pastry display, so dining was on one of
the two covered patios and on tables set in the parking lot.
Early in the day
Later in the day

Since the day was very sunny, we were fortunate to grab a table for four undercover. But Raina had come equipped with sunscreen and umbrellas (for the sun and not rain) just in case.

The meal began with our sharing an order of Frittura di Calamari (Imported fresh calamari in a light batter) and two arancini. And Chef Scorzo is absolutely correct. His calamari need no embellishment other than a light squirt of lemon. And the lemon isn’t really necessary. The calamari was accompanied by a small side of baby greens with the lightest of dressings.
“Arancini or arancine are fried rice balls coated with breadcrumbs, said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century.
Arancini are usually filled with ragù (meat sauce), tomato sauce, mozzarella, and/or peas…. The name derives from the food's shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means ‘little orange’) (wikipedia.org).
Next we shared the Insalatina al Sapore di Mare or a cold salad of clams, shrimp, calamari, sea bass, olives, and celery lightly tossed in olive oil.
Again, the freshness of the fish and seafood weren’t overtaken by an overly strong dressing.

But we’re still not done. Next to the table came a plate of pork that had been roasted in the wood burning oven. The pig had been rubbed
with Italian seasonings and had juicy and tender meat with some pieces containing the crispy skin.

Do you see the large rib bone at the top of the plate (photo below)? I picked a few of the larger pieces from the bone before deciding that the most expeditious route was to just pick it up and gnaw. I hope that the other three hadn’t wanted any.
If you have read this blog before, you know that I don’t get excited about potatoes. But I did with these, since they tasted as if they had been roasted in the pig’s pan juices.

A short time later, I saw one of the staff bring a huge cast iron skillet of these potatoes out to where Mr. Scorzo was tending the oven. Into the hot oven they went for what I assume was a final cooking and crisping.
I should at this point mention that we ate slowly and took breaks for conversation between courses which may explain how we still had room for a plate of Salsiccia e Friarielli (homemade sausage and broccoli rapini).
Rapini is a green leafy vegetable that is frequently used in Italian cooking. The flavor can be somewhat bitter unless cooked correctly and Scorzo’s version hadn’t a trace if bitterness. And the disks of spicy fennel sausage were the perfect partner for the rapini. And, as he was passing the table, I asked Chef Scorzo if the sausage was housemade. And that was when he gave me the quote that started this blog.

The menu wasn’t restricted to the items we ordered. Also served were Minestra di Lenticchie (lentil soup), Caponata Sicula (marinated eggplant salad), Lasagne alla Bolognese (homemade lasagne with veal meat sauce and béchamel sauce), Trippa alla Toscanaccia (beef tripe Tuscan style), and others.

Time for another break with a chance to share a few words with Rosario whom I described in a blog from last year as “Andreoli’s ‘esperto di tutto’ or expert of everything.”
Break over. Chuck, Raina, and Jesse went to make our selections from the overflowing dessert tables and returned with enough desserts to feed half of the Phoenix-metro area.

They included a truly decadent Tiramisu tasting of rum and coffee with a rich whipped cream icing,
Bomboloni (fried Tuscan donuts),
Struffoli (tiny dough balls that have been deep-fried and soaked in honey and are a traditional Italian holiday treat),
Bugie (fried pastry strips),
Cannoli (Sicilian pastry desserts. The name translates to “little tube”),
and assorted cookies.
What a beautiful day. What wonderful company. And what a great meal. Truly deserving of 5.0 Addies.

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

3 comments:

eyad ammar said...


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eyad ammar said...


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eyad ammar said...


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