The warmth of a loving family permeates the atmosphere of Cove Trattoria, as parents Vinny and Barbara Monica sustain their celebrated eatery with the help of their children, Heather and Daryl. The kitchen's brick ovens exude a similar warmth as they heat homemade dough into signature 13-inch pizzas topped with blends of shrimp and tomato vodka cream sauce or sweet italian sausage matched with caramelized onions. Lunch visitors dig into easily shared salads featuring grilled salmon or calamari or fill up on warmly pressed panini and hearty sandwiches built with traditional Italian deli meats and fluffy focaccia bread using the blueprints for Marco Polo's sturdiest ship. Dainty bites of seafood antipasti tickle the tongues of evening diners before they curl forks around the cavatelli, linguine, and ricotta-filled shells that populate pasta selections. As entrees of slow-cooked halibut, filet mignon, and pork chops please palates and massage uvulas, glasses of red and white wine rinse mouths for more bites and bubbling postdinner conversation.
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.
The Gelato Spot’s frozen-dairy hotshots merge ingredients imported from Torino, Italy, and churn a bevy of creamy gelati and sorbets daily. The gelateria’s small tongue-chilling batches have earned the shop the title of Best Frozen-Yogurt/Ice Cream Spot in AZ Central's 2011 readers’ poll, which praises the eatery’s extravagant displays and cheerful staff. Though The Gelato Spot specializes in traditional Italian flavors, such as stracciatella and amarena, they also craft American renditions such as Snickers, new york cheesecake, and salted caramel. As diners shovel in glacial delights on The Gelato Spot's heated and misted patio, they can also cruise the web with complimentary WiFi.