Here’s the thing about me and Italian restaurants: I don’t usually patronize them.
It’s not because I don’t like Italian food. I live on Italian food. Leftover lasagna is a staple breakfast food for me after a morning workout. But I don’t eat at Italian restaurants because nothing usually compares with the deliciousness created by my grandparents, who were right off the boat from Poviglio, Italy and made meals into occasions instead of obligations.
I am happy to report that Grandma Gossie would have loved EVO Scottsdale.
As soon as you walk into EVO, you know it’s going to be a different kind of Italian dining experience. The restaurant has a sophisticated hipster vibe — exposed brick, clean lines, hanging candles from the ceiling, the perfect distance between the tables — and is separated from the ultra-cool bar area. Want to know how cool the bar is? EVO offers a half-dozen wines on tap. And EVO’s signature cocktails — my favorite is the BB&T, made with Smirnoff blueberry vodka, blueberries, basil, lime and tonic — are some of the Valley’s most amazing mixed drinks. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.
As for the menu, EVO features Italian comfort food dishes with a twist. Appetizers feature house-made mouth-watering meatballs, bruschetta with beef tenderloin and asparagus, and charcuterie — a collection of cured meats, artisan cheeses and fresh fruit. Main courses include pappardelle Bolognese, mushroom risotto, shrimp taliatelle, and scallops with polenta and sausage. And you cannot forget the pizza. Definitely don’t forget the pizza.
During our visit there, we started with the polpettina (meatballs) and charcuterie, along with the EVO and Caprese salads. All four were excellent choices to start the meal, but one stood out.
“Do you know what it’s like when you put a big wad of cotton candy into your mouth and it melts?” asked one of the diners at our table. “That’s what it’s like when you take a bite of the EVO salad (brussel sprouts, kale, bosc pear, chévre, pancetta, balsamic and pine nuts).”
That pretty much defines all of EVO’s dishes. The main courses were just as mouth-watering. We chose the pappardelle Bolognese, mushroom risotto, pepperoni pizza and bistecca, which is a New York strip with gorgonzola, black truffle, rosemary red Potatoes and brussels sprouts with a port reduction.
Again, all four were excellent, but EVO’s pizza is packed with flavor and boasts an incredible crust, and as someone who grew up eating nothing but homemade pasta, the pappardelle was exquisite in every way — from texture to thickness to taste.
Although we barely had room in our bellies, the chocolate torte and zeppolini are must-try items from the dessert menu.
Everything about EVO — the friendly and knowledgeable staff, the warm and welcoming atmosphere, the vibrant flavors that distinguish each dish — reminds me of the hours-long events at my grandparents’ home that became cherished memories instead of simply meals.
For an Italian, a restaurant cannot get better than that.
4175 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale