Friday, April 26, 2013

Sassi: An Italian Villa In The Desert

I know what you're thinking; but yes, such a thing does exist. Nestled at the base of Pinnacle Peak mountain in North Scottsdale, Sassi Restaurant is the epitome of an Italian villa. The view from the back patio is breath taking, making it the perfect setting for a peaceful cocktail before dinner. Inside, this charming restaurant is divided into several rooms each one providing it's own piece of Old World Tuscan charm.

But Sassi is much more than the building and landscape; it's amazing Southern Italian food, from a chef with an abundance of culinary passion. Chef Christopher Nicosia, who has been at the helm for a few years now, truly loves both cooking and his Sassi kitchen. I was able to get a sneak peak recently and can totally understand this love. The Sassi kitchen is huge; the pantry itself is bigger than most house kitchens.

And when I say that Nicosia has an abundance of culinary passion I mean it...who else looks at octopus this way.

Let's talk about the food for a bit. "Italian Food" as quoted by Nicosia "is all about using a few simple ingredients and not doing a lot to them"   I love this theory.  I think we as a society are used to what is available at most Italian American restaurants; sauce laden pastas and meats.  I think we tend to forget or possibly have never experienced what real Italian food is.

It's the quality and taste of the ingredients and letting that shine through that makes good authentic Italian food.  For example you won't find eggplant parm on the menu at Sassi.  What you will find though are things like eggplant cakes, made Sicilian style with currants and pine nuts in a light tomato sauce.  A Caprese salad made with imported buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes  drizzled olive oil.

 Extremely tender wood grilled octopus paired with a lightly dressed arugula salad.

"Everything we can do in house we do," is Nicosia's motto.

The orecchiette which are hand rolled and paired with some of the best homemade sausage I've had and the pilllowy ricotta dumplings oozing with melted mozzarella are perfect examples of this.

Just like eating in a traditional Italian household the pasta course is always followed by some sort of meat. On the Sassi menu you will find things like a porcini rubbed bone in veal chop drizzled with truffle oil and fresh halibut (when in season) with eggplant caponata and pine nut pesto.

Sassi is not your typical restaurant it's a destination.  A place you can escape to for an evening of authentic and delicious Italian food created with love for you from Chef Nicosia.

10455 E Pinnacle Peak Pkwy  Scottsdale, AZ 85255
(480) 502-9095

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