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Central PHX Italian places

I am new to Phoenix and live downtown. I am searching for a good Italian place in the central area and would appreciate any suggestions. I prefer ma and pa joints and enjoy a place that seems stuck in the 70's, but doesn't care. So ideally it would be a hole in the wall that that is reasonably priced. Also prefer a good bottle of Chianti so a decent, even if small, wine list would be a bonus. I am one of those foodies who DOES order spaghetti and considers your marinara the defining statement for your restaurant.

Ok, those are the guidelines. I will enjoy your discussion

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  1. A lot depends on how strict your definition of "Central Phoenix" is. I can't think of much in the way of Italian south of Camelback and west of the 51 Freeway, although I'm probably forgetting one or two good places. If you use an expanded definition that includes North Central Phoenix and Arcadia, then there are more options.

    I like Marcellino at 12th and Northern: http://www.marcellinoristorante.com/ It is ma-and-pa, but definitely not hole-in-the-wall.

    Other possibilities include Tutti Santi, also in North Central; La Fontanella in Arcadia; and Daniel's, also in Arcadia. My experiences at those places are not current, however.

    2 Replies
    1. re: silverbear

      I really like Marcellino. It's ma-and-pa if your ma and pa are a sexy continental couple. Marcellino knows how to cook and Sima knows how to work/run the room.

      There's also Harley's Italian Bistro on 7AV/Indian School(just north of). It used to be The Roman Table and was known for the old school stuff. I haven't been to it since Harley's took it over.

      1. re: silverbear

        Do yourself a favor and include Northern and 13th St in your def. of Central Phoenix. Marcellino's is well worth a few extra blocks of driving. I've done Tutti Santi (16th St) and was underwhelmed. About the same for Christo's (7th St), but Marcellino's IS good. Wine list is limited, but very fairly priced and suited to the menu. I'm not sure that I could do "better" from my cellar, only more expensive.


      2. Here are a few more suggestions....

        An old favorite of ours is Christo's on 7th st just north of Bethany Home...it is classic old time Italian. Wondeful red sauce and 'classic' entrees....
        Low ceilings give it a homey feel. Still family owned and operated. Great warm bread and attentive service.
        Also L'Amore restaurant on 32nd street and Lincoln.....is another favorite.....

        Avanti on Thomas and 28th street is an institution...just celebrated 30 years....you can't get more classic than that!


        1. Ciaogal is SPOT on. those are the two I'd suggest.

          1. I think it also depends on what your definition of Italian is. If you are looking for hearty New York style Italian i.e. good pizza, calzone and basic pastas, I think Pat's at 12th and Glendale is fantastic. And there is no question it meets your hole in the wall requirement.

            For more fancy Italian I have always liked Michelina's at 32nd and the 51 freeway.

            1. Marcellino's is awesome. There's also La Fontinella. Tutti Santi is another real winner.

              1. Marcellino's is fantastic. We went last week. But to be fair to the original post and to those who might read this and wander over thinking it might offer typical fare - it doesn't. It's in a different league. It's the type of place you save up for, dress up for, make reservations to, and suspend all of your normal Italian ordering routines because much of what you might think to order is not offered. It's great Italian and costs more, but not over priced - just priced more for what they deliver.

                I really liked it, but couldn't eat there every day (wish I could - but couldn't afford it). That said, I now feel dopey for not offering any suggestions for Central recs. My fave cheap Italian "order at the counter" eatery is Joe's in Scottsdale. It's pretty much a pizza by the slice joint but they also serve pastas, calzones, stromboli, etc. Paper plates, sauce in plastic scoops, peppers in packets. But you can chow for $8 if not for less.

                1. Has anyone tried Cafe La Bella on 7th St.? That's definitely within a strict definition of Central Phoenix. It looks interesting, but I haven't head from anyone who has been there:


                  Regarding Jon's comment above, I agree that Marcellino is probably at a level beyond the original request. When I think of casual neighborhood Italian that combines full service with inexpensive prices and unpretentious surroundings, those places tend to be in more suburban loctions. In the heart of Phoenix, I think it's more upscale destination dining or neighborhood pizzerias.

                  1. Slice of Sicily on 38th/Indian School has awesome calzones and pizza. Definitely worth a shot if you're in Arcadia. And don't forget to talk sh*t about the Yankees while you're there!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: azhotdish

                      A great slice of pizza at Slice of Sicily.

                      And I second the rec for Pat's on Glendale, but think that pizza is the way to go there, not the pastas. I didn't think they were great.

                      And don't forget Spinato's. They have spagetti in addition to pizza, but it's a sweet sauce, so if that's not your thing, steer clear.

                    2. i love cafe labella on 7th steet, about 2 blocks north of lisa g's - great food, relatively inexpensive...tiny seating area, better for take out, i think...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: winedubar

                        Have they gotten their liquor license yet? Last time I checked, it was BYOB.

                        1. re: silverbear

                          i'm not sure about that!! i usually get it to go ;)

                      2. Tiramisu is without a doubt my favorite Italian restaurant in the Phoenix Area. It is not in Central Phoenix, but, up in Scottsdale at Scottsdale Rd. and Shea. The mom makes the pasta while the dad cooks and the son and daughter wait and serve. For the ladies, order a cosmo, they are unique and amazing. Order the Yale Special, it is my personal dish and it is a Veal/eggplant parmesan that is my favorite veal parm I have ever had.

                        1. I enjoy DeFalco's at Oak and Scottsdale (not Central Phoenix).
                          They have great sandwiches (try the sausage with fried peppers and onions) and good simple pasta dishes at low prices; and the garlic bread is great as well. They'll sell you a glass of Ruffino (not exciting, but fine with lunch) for $5.

                          1. Updated post. I will be going to Cafe LaBella very soon. Went to Harley's Bistro. Very much a neighborhood place. Everyone seemed to know each other and people were hanging out at the bar. Food was decent enough. I had the past and meat sauce. The service was VERY good. Friendly, but not over the top. The only downfall was the wine list. There was only two Chiantis on the list and they left a lot to be desired. But it was true to my original post and I will go back and try something different. Thanks all.

                            1. My all time favorite restaurant in Phoenix for marinara was Raimondo's on 7th St. south of Camelback. I haven't been there in a few years, but hopefully it's still as good. If you like eggplant try the rolled eggplant appetizer (I can't remember the name of it).

                              1. For a good lunch time place try:

                                Calabria Italian Groc & Deli
                                1001 N 3rd Ave # 6, Phoenix, AZ 85003
                                Phone: (602) 271-7000