I remember the days not so long ago when you could walk into a restaurant and be greeted by name. You'd know at least half the waitstaff, all of which were men, just from the neighborhood. And you'd be served your favorite dish, the one you'd ordered time and time again. This is what it was like for me growing up in South Philly.
Italian American restaurants could be found on every corner back home. And maybe the food was not as good as mom's but it was good none the less in a comfortable, familiar sort of way. You had your top pick, where you went on a night out.
A recent visit to Pasta Brioni in Scottsdale reminded me of those days; bringing back memories of long-ago dinners. Dark wood, cozy leather booths, paneled walls, and the food... It will be hard to find anything more classic Italian American here in the desert.
Over the past 20 years Pasta Brioni has refined its service to reflect the family traditions and customs found on the East coast. They have built an exceptional team of workers that set out to care for guests as if they were family. From the traditional pasta dishes to prime steaks and classic desserts, the menu showcases an array of Italian classics.
Appetizers include several salads, like the beet, mixed greens and feta (pictured), which is tossed in balsamic vinaigrette before molded into a tower on your plate.
The made to order Tuscan bean soup features red beans instead of the classic white and pairs wonderfully with the homemade garlic bread given freely to each table.
There's no denying that the portions at Pasta Brioni are huge. I could barely finish my cioppino even though it was one of the better seafood stews I've had in a while, and the veal chop wrapped around a sausage link with prosciutto and provolone was no match for my dining companion.
The menu is a flexible design, allowing the chef to use the freshest and most seasonal ingredients to customize items around each guest’s taste. The restaurant is large and composed of many rooms, making it great for parties of various sizes. There's an intimate space that seats about 20, a larger room that can hold up to 40 and an outdoor patio that is a perfect spot for a cocktail reception for a group of 50.
The next time you find yourself in Old Town Scottsdale be sure to make your way to Pasta Brioni and let them welcome you, as is the classical East Coast Italian way, into their family.