5202 North Central Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85012


The family-owned and family-operated Central Avenue eatery was founded by CIA-trained chef Joe Aiello. His lunch menu of paninis, heroes, and pastas helps to satisfy midday meatball-hero cravings ($12), and the dinner menu serves up a satisfyingly complete selection of Southern Italian eats. Start with an order of the mozzarella carozza ($7), a house-made cheese sandwiched between sheets of semolina and bathed in eggs before being sautéed in a rich sauce of capers, anchovies, lemon, and wine, or go for an order of the crisp fried calamari ($10) before moving on to the dinner's dramatic second act. Oceanographers will want to dive in and explore the Aiello-family-favorite cavatelli with Sunday gravy ($14), a rich pasta dish topped with sweet sausage and Joe's famous meatball, while pasta protestors pore over their selection of specially prepared proteins, such as the tender veal picatta ($19) or the portobello-mushroom-topped filet mignon ($25).

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