Fran Mancuso got her first job in the restaurant industry when her family opened an italian-ice shop in 1969. The 14-year-old Fran did her schoolwork between tables, but those shifts led her to a lifelong career. As the dessert parlor became a gourmet Italian restaurant, which in turn became a franchise of restaurants in Arizona and California, Fran moved up the ranks to become the director of operations for Mancuso Restaurants Inc. Bobby's serves the Old-World Italian cuisine that the family has honed for decades in a modern lounge setting that can play host to a lively night out or a romantic meal.
From tables in the two-floor lounge, patrons dig into their Italian-style dinners of natural pork, milk-fed veal, cage-free chickens, and fresh seafood shipped in daily. Crab-stuffed mushrooms whet appetites for housemade gnocchi with veal meatballs and pistachio-crusted lamb chops. The carefully designed interior blends old Hollywood and Las Vegas–style glamour, bathed in red, orange, and blue lights. Guests walk up a curving staircase to enjoy the second-story area surrounded by gauzy curtains parted to grant clear views of a wall covered with portraits of famous musicians named Bob. Live music fills the air nightly with live jazz, R & B, and blues from musicians who genuinely have the blues.
Arrivederci co-founder Franco was born in Sorrento, a seaside village in Southern Italy where he began studying Italian food. Over the next 25 years, Franco honed his craft and began imagining a health-conscious style of Italian cuisine that focuses on fresh ingredients, no preservatives, and more veggies. After being named "Master of Italian Cuisine" by the Italian Council of Chefs, Franco met his current business partner, Max, and began putting his ideas into practice.
The walls of Arrivederci's dining room are covered with sketched murals and stenciled roman lettering, leading first-time visitors to wonder if the entire restaurant was crafted in an artist's studio. Earthen clay tiles guide the eye to a wooden bar with painted accents of wreaths, angels, and full wine glasses that tempt the hands of the gullible. White tablecloths boast thinly sliced salmon and beef carpaccios, twirled and rolled pasta dishes, and veal and chicken entrees in delicate wine sauces. After finishing off a wine bottle in the cozy sun porch, guests can get a closer look at the dining room's murals, which feature traditional Roman scenes of chiseled gladiators drinking tea and dishing the latest tunic trends.
Though they don't knead the dough themselves, customers at MyPie by Crust certainly have a hand in their pizzas' creation. That's because they dictate their assembly every step of the way. At the restaurant's front counter, chefs take requests for custom-built Neapolitan-style pies directly from their hungry patrons, beginning with the selection of a fresh-made white, wheat, or gluten-free crust. To top that fresh foundation, customers then select from five different sauces—including conventional pizza sauce, spicy fra diavolo, and savory BBQ—and an assortment of meat and vegetable toppings. Each pie then enters an 800-degree oven that cooks it to perfection in two minutes—roughly 10 times faster than a home oven might take, and roughly 100 times faster than it would take to bake it over a single candle. Though custom pizzas are the restaurant's forte, they also craft traditional varieties such as Margherita and Hawaiian—both mainstays of MyPie's parent company, Crust, whose multiple Arizona restaurants continue a legacy of using fresh, homemade, and local ingredients in crafting their signature pies.
Donili Pizza Kitchen backs up a repertoire of hand-tossed and globally themed pizzas with rustic Italian fare crafted with organic produce from the Scottsdale farmers' market. Wraparound booths and tables draped in red support buffalo wings in four different sauces, calzones, and classic pasta dishes. The menu divides pizza offerings into two sections—traditional rounds are slathered with one of a dozen sauces, from wasabi to basil oil, and piled with a selection of more than 25 toppings. The international pizza, like the U.N.'s recreational boxing league, features two global representatives each day, such as the China pizza with an orange glaze sauce beneath chicken or beef, stir-fried vegetables, and rice. An international collection of wines as well as draft and bottled beers wet patrons' whistles so they may better call party fouls.
Amid the bright, contemporary decor and open-air seating of Grazie’s two locations, the restaurant’s chefs roll out fresh, flavorful pizza dough and compile classic Italian specialties. Their menu of pastas and gourmet pizzas—which are crowned with toppings such as prosciutto, capers, and ricotta—complement the tannins of an expansive, all-Italian wine list. The pizzeria doubles as an off-sale wine shop, with each bottle curated by wise wine experts who tirelessly sniff out rare imports with the enthusiasm of grape-fixated bloodhounds. When Grazie's hospitable staffers aren't serving lunch or dinner, students from regularly scheduled Italian-language classes flood the restaurant space with the delicate syllables of useful phrases such as “What’s your name?” and "Are you going to finish that lasagna?"
Before there was Vito's Pizza and Italian Ristorante, there was Vito Carrieri, rocking gently on a boat to the United States from his home in Ripacandida, Italy. After casting anchor in Chicago—where he feasted on the city's pizza, helped get it elected mayor, and met his wife JoAnne—he packed his bags and family recipes, moved west with JoAnne and his kids, and opened Vito's Pizza and Italian Ristorante in 1986. Eschewing the Windy City’s deep-dish roots, the eatery's specialty taps into Chicago's less heralded thin-crust traditions, with dough dusted with imported Italian flour and topped with cheeses from Italy and Wisconsin. Those family recipes from Vito's bags are also put to good use, with Northern and Southern Italian specialties made with house-crafted marinara sauce and italian sausage.