By Callie Kittredge
I’ve always found that the best Italian restaurants don’t have too much on the menu. You don’t get overwhelmed with different sauces, salads, pastas, or meats. You don’t have to keep asking yourself, do I get the bruschetta or the garlic bread, the chocolate drizzle cake or the tiramisu, or heavens, the Alfredo or the Bolognese?!
I was a bit skeptical when I walked into Scordato’s Pizzeria. I thought that it might be another glorified pizza joint, where I leave with my pants unbuttoned from being so full, vowing to never eat again. Scordato’s is located in a small plaza next to a bike shop on North Campbell Avenue, with a view of the Catalina foothills. I’ve driven by it more times than I can count, so it was interesting to finally go inside.
Dragging my three food-driven friends along, we opened the doors to Scordato’s and were immediately greeted by an elderly gentleman dressed in a white shirt and slacks. My friend leaned over to me and asked if we were underdressed in our jeans. It seemed like this man might be the owner of the restaurant, but our waiter assured me he was just the host. It was a typical Italian welcoming.
What immediately surprised me the most was the size of the restaurant. It is tiny. The first room has a nice bar with high table seating. On your left is a long hallway leading into the kitchen and some smaller rooms with brick ceilings and just a few tables. It reminded me of a tavern. The last room was the main seating area with about 10 tables total. The lighting was very dim over dark walls; soft acoustic music played in the background. It was apparent the restaurant wasn’t five-star, as there was a server’s stand in plain sight, but it’s still both approachable and upscale. It was intimate but relaxed. Scordato’s loosened the tie on typical foothill dining: You could wear a pair of jeans and still get a fancy dinner without breaking the bank or feeling out of place.
The dinner menu was simple, just a few courses under each section: appetizers, light entrées, pizzas, and desserts. That’s it. We started off with some garlic toast accompanied by a young but delicious Merlot and a full-bodied Montepulciano. (My friend who studied abroad in Rome this past year, exclaimed, “At last, a real Montepulciano in Tucson!”) There was a nice beer and wine selection. I asked our waitress what the three most popular pizzas were, and ordered them. What really separated Scordato’s pizza from lesser pizza places was the crust. The oven is set at an extremely high temperature, giving a slightly blackened exterior. This intensifies the taste with a more smoky, caramelized flavor. It was delicious and unexpected. I actually prefer softer crusts, but for those who prefer a good crunch, this is your place. Each pizza is 12-inches, easy enough for two people to split.
This is what we thought of our three choices:
- Classic Pepperoni: With mozzarella and tomato sauce, this was better than your typical pepperoni pizza. It wasn’t clouded in grease and cheese, and the fresh pepperoni blended nicely. The dough was thin and although the pepperoni kept falling off, I couldn’t stop eating it.
- Chicken Meatball and Ricotta Cheese: We all agreed this was the winner. The meatballs just melted in your mouth. They were amazing. The ricotta wasn’t too thick or heavy, and it was just the right amount.
- Sausage and Roasted Cipollini Onions: This had mozzarella and fresh sage over tomato sauce. I normally don’t put onions on my pizza, but this worked perfectly with the spiciness of the sausage.
We were overly impressed with these artisan pizzas. The price wasn’t bad either, about $15 each. We also couldn’t help but try the Warm Chocolate Mousse Cake and the Cheesecake with lemon prosecco. The portions were definitely meant for two or more people, but my goodness it was scrumptious! The chocolate was gooey and creamy mixed with vanilla ice cream. It was pretty rich, whereas the cheesecake was simple, with softer flavors. Worth the splurge completely. When the waitress (who gave us exceptional service and even a few laughs) came by with our check, we were more than pleased. Scordato’s had filled us with delicious satisfaction. I can tell that I’ll be craving the pepperoni pizza again in a few days. ♦