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Cafepino - Scottsdale (Scottsdale Rd. & 101)

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I took the kids to a movie on Saturday night, and noticed a new place in the old Frankie's location just outside the Harkin's theater at the Scottsdale 101 center. (I know this is really Phoenix). We stopped in afterward for a quick dinner, and I'm happy to say they may finally have a restaurant that will work in that location.

This is another quick serve spot that some may not appreciate, but they seem to have it buzzing along quite well. You walk and past a small waiting area. Directly ahead is a case with baked goods (pretty good looking stuff), and then the counter to order. They have paper menus outside, larger, nicer paper menus inside, and then the whole menu on a giant board behind the register. After ordering, they give you a little card with a number on it. You place that in the stand on each table, and the food is brought to you. The system worked well during my visit, and we sat outside on the patio.

The menu has four sections: starters, salads, pizza (wood burning oven) and sandwiches. I guess I would describe the menu as casual with an Italian inclination. Starters include beef carpaccio ($10), two antipasto, as well as a rotisserie chicken ($12), grilled chicken pasta and smoked salmon pasta (both $10). (Maybe it's not a starter section, but a "we don't know where else to put this on the menu" section). The antipasto look interesting. The Pino ($10) includes burrata, roasted peppers, marinated eggplant, grilled artichoke and homemade bread. The Mea Culpa ($17) comes with prosciutto, salami, pate, assorted cheeses, olives, etc. Any place that serves burrata impresses me these days, although I didn't get to try it.

It was just me and the kids, so I ordered a pizza for them and a grilled chicken sandwich for me. There are 12 different pizzas on the menu, although they also have a myriad of toppings available including egg, artichokes, anchovies, tuna, and the usual stuff. The pizzas are all cooked in the wood burning oven, and have a great crust. I mistakenly ordered the Marinara ($9), which is just tomato sauce, garlic and oregano (no cheese). Not a good idea with kids, but they liked it. The sauce had a great depth of flavor, and the crust was delicious. This isn't Pizzaria Bianco, bit it was pretty darn good.

My chicken sandwich ($10) came with melted fontina cheese, tomato and arugula on more of the homemade bread. The chicken was thick, juicy and perfectly cooked. It arrived with french fries and a side salad in a little glass bowl on the plate. This was a lot of food, since the sandwich was big, there were a lot of fries, and the salad was actually pretty substantial. The fries were thin, crisp and reminded me a bit of Zinc Bistro. The salad was mixed greens and a little shredded carrot, tossed in a little olive oil. It was all very good, and I took half my sandwich home. Other sandwiches include a caprese, french dip, vegetable, tuna, etc.

The staff was very friendly and very nice with the kids. I wouldn't say this is a family restaurant, but at 6:45 on a Saturday night there were several families there after movies. Our waitress told me this is the first Cafepino in the U.S. Apparently, they have a few Pizzapinos in Europe. They are also opening a Pizzapino in downtown Scottsdale near the new Sushi Roku. She said the owner is a gentleman who opened Christopher's and apparently bought AJ's from the original owner before selling it Bashas. There were several men with Italian accents helping out and checking in on us, and I assume they are either owners or managers.

In any case, I liked it a lot. Certainly a great place to stop before or after a movie if you're in that part of town. I don't know that I would go out of my way to dine there, but it's perfect for a quick, casual dinner out with fresh, good tasting food. Certainly a great option in the Scottsdale 101 center which is full of chains.

I did not have anything to drink, but I saw several glasses of wine go by. All of the desserts looked very good, as did the biscotti and pastry in the case up front. I'll definitely be back, and I'm guessing this place will be packed soon.


7000 E. Mayo Blvd.

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  1. This is a very helpful review that preempts my usual pet peeves of places in Phoenix erroneously thought to be in Scottsdale and fast-casual service in places where it doesn't work. I have to go up that way occasionally and will give a try sometime. I assume high chairs are available?

    1 Reply
    1. re: silverbear

      My kids are out of the high chair stage, so I didn't ask, but I'm sure they have some. The place seems very well thought out and well run, especially since they've only been open a month.

    2. I had lunch there on Tuesday and liked it very much. I had the French dip. It was lots of moist slices/chunks of roast beef and caramelized onions on a soft & chewy ciabatta roll. The "au jus" was not au jus; it was in fact brown gravy that tasted solely of sage. After dipping my first couple bites in the gravy, I ate the rest of the sandwich without it. Next time I will ask if they have some horseradish sauce for the sandwich b/c that would be perfect. My sandwich came with a good-sized serving of fries. I thought they were tasteless. It also came with a small fresh and crisp salad in an excellent vinaigrette. All in all a very good lunch and I will go back. Service was very friendly, and fast.

      1. Hey thanks for the review! My brother lives near there and is always looking for places to take his two kids. I'll have to forward this to him.

        1. We just tried it tonight and absolutely loved it. For starters, it's a great room. Lots of light, open space, tables well-spaced. My wife and I were there with our 2 year old son. We ordered a ceasar salad, vegetable pizza and some fresh fruit salad. The wonderfully kind man taking our order at the counter said "we also have a kids menu" and we took him up on the penne with bolognese for our son.

          As we walked over to find a booth they followed us over with a high chair and helped us get us set up. Our son's pasta arrived first - the man who brought it sad "I thought you might want to have this for him" Very nice touch. I took a bit of the pasta and the sauce was out of this world....rich, hearty bolognese with chunks of tomato and a very nice hint of red wine in the sauce.

          Our salads - fruit and ceasar - came next. The ceasar was great - a nice lemony flavor, homemade crutons, and not overdressed. My wife loved the fruit salad; I tasted it....it had a slight dressing on it that I can only describe as "herbal"....it was very unique and very good.

          Rave reviews about the pizza as well. Grilled zucchini, eggplant and red peppers. Lots of high quality cheese, and a slight sweetness to the sauce. Crust could have been a tad crispier, but that's nit-picking at this point.

          A few other remarks: the servers and bussers were incredibly attentive. My iced tea and my wife's Sprite never got beyond half-empty. Things were brought out promptly. People checked to make sure we were happy. The owner/manager stopped by and chatted with us.

          There was a remark earlier, I believe, about how family friendly it is. I would say "very." The owner/manager came by to admire and talk to our son and everyone was beyond accomodating. He told us that the other Cafepino's are in Spain and France. He was French, but I heard French, Spanish and Italian being spoken. Love that you can get an egg on your pizza.

          Last comment: they had burrata as part of the anitpasto which, regrettably, we did not try.

          Simply put: this is what FoodBar and Dish wish they were. I can't wait to go back.

          2 Replies
          1. re: ejs1492

            Loved it!
            Played Hookey this afternoon and met a friend for a 4:10 movie @ the Cine Capri. We made a beeline for CafePino as soon as we exited the side door!
            It was great! We shared the Antipasto Pino w/ the homemade bread, the Burrata, eggplant tapanade and the roasted artichokes and red peppers. I loved the fact the Antipasto was served warm. I am not usually a fan of cold red peppers and artichoke...this was really yummy. We also shared the pepperoni pizza...loved the crust and the singed edges on the pepperoni...the flavor was great!
            Service was quick and efficient and the portions were more than generous!
            Prices were very reasonable....I will definitely be back!

            This is a concept I would love to franchise!

            1. re: ciaogal

              Glad you enjoyed it also. Cafe Pino REALLY exceeded my expectations, kind of like the whitefish salad at Big City Bagels! ..I thought every aspect of the food at Cafe Pino was truly great and the service was genuine and speedy. I need to find a reason to go back...soon!

          2. place link

            7000 E Mayo Blvd, Phoenix, AZ

            1. I went to Cafepino with a friend of mine on Tuesday for lunch. It was a little weird when we walked in because we weren't sure if we just order at the counter or wait to be seated. It looked like there is a hostess stand right at the entrance. So we go to the counter and order the Antipasto Mea Culpa and the Caprese Salad. Then we were looking at trying a pizza and the french guy behind the counter is starting to pressure us to order other toppings on our pizza. He was kind of pushy. Anyways, we find a seat and our Antipasto comes out pretty quickly. Wow!! That was a lot of food for two people. We probably could have just ordered that for lunch. The bread was warm and delicious. I liked the presentation on the cheese board. Then we get our Caprese salad which was really good. I liked that they added greens with the Caprese. Then the pizza comes out. I really didn't like it. There was way too much sauce and chunky tomatoes on it. It really overpowered the simple flavors I like on my pizza. I guess I am just used to Pizza Bianco. I didn't eat anymore of the pizza, but my friend thought it was okay. It was a bit overpriced for lunch. I can think of other places that have better fresh dishes for lunch. The service was great and the servers were very attentive. The desserts looked pretty good so I might go back for a late night snack and coffee.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jewelbear11

                Met some friends today up @ the Cine Capri to see the new Indiana Jones movie. We decided to stop in to Cafe Pino for an early lunch. We ordered at the counter, a Caesar Salad, a pepperoni pizza, and a Pizza Filio...which was topped with Buffalo Mozarella, fresh garlic,fresh parsley and portabella mushrooms. I ordered an unsweetened Jasmine iced tea..everyone else had water.
                The Caesar salad came to the table first...it was huge, fresh crisp and perfectly presented. We asked for some extra cheese...I love the fact that they use freshly grated parmesean and bring it to the table in little ramekins w/ a small spoon. The dressing was terrific.....being picky about my Caesar Salads...this has to be one of the best I have found in the Phoenix Area....simple but w/ the right combination of anchovy, Worcestershire sauce, egg, cheese.....

                The pizzas came next...they were bubbling and the aroma hit us before the pies hit the table. They were awesome! The crusts were perfectly charred.

                We were talked in to dessert by one of the owners...a freshly baked fruit tart w/ a creme brulee bottom, drizzeled w/ fresh carmelized sugar....yum! We debated between the tart, the tiramasu and the creme brulee.

                The service was great...glasses were filled,timely... plates arrived quickly and everything flowed. We made it out in less than an hour which was perfect to get in line for great seats at the movie!

                It was a very enjoyable afternoon!

              2. I love their Salad Nicoise and the service was impeccable the 2 times I've been. I agree with the OP that its a bit confusing at first where you're supposed to order. I'm glad to see something thrive in that area that isn't a chain. A few restaurants have rotated through that spot and not lasted long.

                1. I agree, this is a great place with some great food.
                  I also agree that the owner can appear a little 'gruff' - in fact he reminds me of the scary weight-lifter that was featured in Kitchen Nightmares a few years ago.

                  As far as the family-friendly part... it is a mixed bunch as far as I am concerned. They always give my son great attention, bring him food first so he doesn't get bored, they play with him and make a big deal of him. But, when it comes time for a diaper change it is a different story. There are no changing facilities at this restaurant, and the lack of counter space means I have to change his diaper on the bathroom floor! I actually have to get on my knees in the stall and lay him on the floor! Even if I bring a changing mat for him... I am still kneeling in who knows what splashes etc!

                  The facade of a child friendly restaurant without the substance!

                  1. havent been here in many months...gotta make point to get there soon...In my opinion one of the best pizzas in town...cooked in a lava oven......atleast when we asked the owner that is what we wqre told, not wood? unless they changed it...love love love the pizza there....just as good as bianco and shorter drive and wait