Tag Archives: italian restaurant

Marcellinos Dinner

Marcellino’s redefines romance in the restaurant business

Being a romantic restaurant isn’t just about candlelight, exclusivity and good design. Although those are all qualities of Old Town Scottsdale’s Marcellino’s, too, true romance is embodied in the artistry of the menu items, the story behind its owners and the dedication of its kitchen staff.



Marcellino’s Ristorante has made a quiet spot of its own in Old Town Scottsdale. With a “piazza” feel to its outdoor patio, the dark wood and candlelit dining room that bring a romantic flair designed and built by its chef, Marcellino’s is a piece of Italy in the center of downtown Scottsdale.

Just last week, there were three engagements at Marcellino’s, says its public relations spokeswoman Nadine Allen, president of Rockingwood Studio. As she spoke, white petals were being crushed and camera flashes were going off during the restaurant’s first wedding ceremony, taking place on an intimate patio outside the window behind her.

This event has some special meaning for Chef and his wife (and business partner), Sima Venzino, who were married in 1996 at a restaurant in New York. In fact, his first restaurant gig after moving to New York from Rome started two days after their wedding.

Marcellino is more than a chef, Venzino says. He’s an artist. He designed a fountain constructed out of wine bottles on the restaurant’s patio used for the wedding ceremony, he decorated (and built portions) of the restaurant’s interior, he cultivates a garden at home and in planters outside the restaurant, and he designs menu items that Venzino says he never tastes until it’s completed.

Chef Marcellino

Chef Marcellino

You’ll never see salt and pepper on any of the tables at Marcellino’s either. This is part of the aforementioned artistry, Venzino says. Everything is prepared exactly as patrons should experience it. However, waiters will offer pepper and Parmesan when delivering plates of pasta or salad.

Though Marcellino has cultivated his skills in the kitchens of various restaurants, everything goes back to his roots on a farm. Marcellino was 11 when his mother passed away. He took her role in the kitchen and began preparing meals for his sister and father. In terms of training, that’s as far as Marcellino ever got. Family remains an important quality in the restaurant; staff eat at a big family table in the back of the restaurant around 4 p.m., Venzino says.

Table for two at Marcellino's

Table for two at Marcellino’s

Playing into Marcellino’s roots on an Italian farm, everything at the restaurant is fresh. Chef Marcellino roasts eight eggplants a day for a red pepper, eggplant and basil spread served with table bread. On the patio, Marcellino has a herb garden that he and his bartenders use for dishes and drinks. Marcellino also has an impressive garden at his home in Moon Valley, says Allen. While many chefs use fresh ingredients or may have strong roots to a homeland of their cuisine, Venzino articulates what sets Marcellino’s apart.

“It’s a tremendous gift,” says Venzino of her husband’s approach to food. “He takes a classic recipe and puts an enhancement on it with the respect for the dish intact.”

The way to structure dinner at Marcellino’s is as such: antipasti (appetizer), pasta, secondo (main course/protein) and dolce (dessert).

Make a reservation, though. During the peak season (read: now), Venzino says the restaurant can turn down up to 50 couples who try to get a seat for dinner.

Bright plates and vibrant platefuls.

Bright plates and vibrant platefuls.

Dinner began with an antipasto of buffalo mozzarella wrapped in pancetta and served with basil, red peppers and a sundried tomato.

The pasta dishes we tried were Paccatelli al Ragu di Salsiccia — a pasta served with tomato sauce and sausage ragu — and spinach ricotta ravioli with sage butter sauce. All pasta is handmade. For secondo, Chef served up seared ahi tuna with a tomato balsamic vinegar sauce and a dollop of mashed potato.

Dessert was a win all-around — and it comes with flaming sugar cubes in tow, by the way. Tiramisu was light and perhaps the best we’ve had at Scottsdale Living. Panna cotta, a baked vanilla cream, is made with vanilla beans from halfway around the world. And the chocolate mousse is a rich, yet light dish that is big enough to share, if you can get yourself to part with a bite of it — now that’s a true test of romance.

Visit Marcellino’s Ristorante: 7114 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale, marcellinoristorante.com

BiCE Ristorante

BiCE Ristorante To Open New Year's Eve, Featuring Award-Winning Italian Fare

Embark on a culinary adventure on New Year’s Eve, and become part of the Ruggeri family’s latest culinary chapter, at BiCE Ristorante, located inside a two-story space at The Citadel shopping plaza in North Scottsdale.

BiCE RistoranteScheduled to open December 31, 2012, BiCE (pronounced “bee-chay”) is one of the oldest family-owned restaurant companies in the nation, with quite the history. Beginning in Milan, Italy, Beatrice “Bice” Ruggeri opened BiCE’s Kitchen, her first restaurant, in 1926. After traveling to the United States, she opened BiCE Ristorante in Manhattan in 1987, which became a favorite haunt of the Rat Pack, Calvin Klein and Sharon Stone.

Locally owned and operated, BiCE Ristorante in Scottsdale will feature a menu written and executed by Executive Chef and Milan native David Negri and under the supervision of BiCE BiCE Ristoranteveteran General Manager Bernardo Nolf. As one would expect, BiCE Ristorante’s menu will offer a combination of timeless Italian classics and more contemporary items that will highlight fresh, seasonal ingredients grown with a 100-mile radius, when possible. BiCE will also offer its Salumi e Formaggi station, featuring a selection of the finest artisanal meats and cheeses imported directly from the Old World.

In addition to its European décor, patrons can also take advantage of its BiCE Bar & Lounge on the second floor, where they can relax on the outdoor patio and soak in the views.

BiCE Ristorante will celebrate its grand opening on New Years Eve, December 31, 2012, with three distinct seatings, three creative menus and three price points. Advance reservations are required by calling BiCE Ristorante(480) 421-BICE (2423). BiCE will be open for dinner service thereafter, Monday through Thursday from 5-10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 5-11 p.m. BiCE Bar & Lounge will be open until 2 a.m.

For more information about BiCE Ristorante, visit biceaz.com.

BiCE Ristorante Grand Opening

When: December 31, 2012
Where: 8700 E. Pinnacle Peak Rd., Scottsdale
Contact: (480) 421-BICE (2423)
Web: biceaz.com

Seafood in white dish

New Italian Eatery Bice Bistro Opens In Glendale’s Westgate City Center

Bice Bistro at Westgate City Center Among the array of restaurants at the ever-growing Westgate City Center in Glendale is a new standout: Bice Bistro.

The Italian restaurant has a contemporary feel from the moment you step inside. The decor is light and sophisticated, and attention is immediately drawn to the wine wall lining one entire side of the restaurant. Televisions tuned to sporting events hang above the bar at the front, but there is quieter, more intimate seating in the back.

When my dining companions and I first saw the menu, we knew we were in for quite a treat. Bice Bistro offers a wide variety of Italian food, including pizzas, sandwiches, pastas, fish and meat. As soon as the bread arrived at the table, it was clear that we would not be disappointed with the overall meal. The bread was served with butter spiced with flecks of red pepper, making it difficult to save room for the entrees as we gorged on the high-carb treat.

Of the appetizers we chose to sample, the overwhelming table favorite was the calamari. Served with mushrooms, zucchini and a spicy tomato sauce, it was perfectly cooked — the lightest and fluffiest I have ever tasted. Not surprisingly, it was much fought-over and completely devoured before too much time had passed.

Luckily, our salads soon arrived and diverted our attention. Bice Bistro offers the usual green and Caesar salads, and the Caesar, which had a hint of garlic, was definitely delicious. The star salad of the evening, however, was what our lovely waitress called the “house specialty.” The baby spinach salad came with beets, goat cheese, pine nuts and lemon vinaigrette. The beets in particular were fresh, and even those of us who had never tasted beets before thoroughly enjoyed them.

Before long our entrees were served and, as with the appetizers and salads, we were pleasantly surprised by the diversity of flavors. Our pizza of choice, fotomodella, had tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, prosciutto, arugula, and the key ingredient, truffle oil. Needless to say, it was distinct from any pizza any of us had ever tasted, and it was easily a favorite. Another favorite entree was the crab-and-shrimp-stuffed ravioli with a lobster cream sauce. The ravioli is made in-house, and it was perfectly cooked. The rich and creamy sauce, however, was what really made the dish.

Finally, it was time for dessert. Although we all thought we had filled up, we still managed to relish three delicious treats: tiramisu, chocolate souffle and mango sorbet. The tiramisu and souffle were equally exquisite, and we were all impressed with how rich the souffle was without being overly sweet. The sorbet, which also is offered in other fruity flavors, was simple yet delicious — the perfect alternative if you’re just not hungry enough for a full dessert, but can’t imagine walking away with nothing. AZ Business Magazine March 2010

So the next time you’re at Westgate and feeling overwhelmed by the vast number of restaurants vying for your business, relax — Bice Bistro will not disappoint.

If You Go:
Bice Bistro
6751 N. Sunset Blvd., #E-110
Westgate City Center, Glendale
(623) 877-4760


AZ Business Magazine

March 2010