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Nov 11, 2007 07:12 PM

Cafepino - Scottsdale (Scottsdale Rd. & 101)

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, 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 had a slight dressing on it that I can only describe as "herbal" 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