Andreoli Italian Grocer

Good eating in the Valley of the Sun
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Maaaaaaan, it's been way too long.

I've spent a lot of time at Andreoli. Over 30 visits, I'm sure. And I've spent a lot of time chatting with Giovanni and Francesca, so in the interest of disclosure, consider me a long-time customer who's friendly with the folks who run the place. And with my ladylove down for the count this evening and a gap far too long since our last visit, I figured I'd take the kids out for some pasta.
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Pizza Menu
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The pizza menu was pasted to the cheese case. I've only been once since he put in the oven, and I'm looking forward to working my way through this menu. (Though not as much as I'm looking forward to catch them on a roasted pig night.)

I can't express how thrilled I was to come across this place two and a half years ago. And it warms my heard that they seem a lot busier now than they did then. I love that people are appreciating this food, because this guy's a treasure. For those who haven't gotten there yet, it's an Italian grocery/trattoria run by Giovanni Scorzo, who hails from Calabria, trained both there and in Northern Italy, bakes his own bread, cures his own meats, does his own pastry, makes his own fresh cheeses... seriously, the guy's a freaking savant. And the specials on that white board every night take me back to Italy every time I stop by. But it's been months. I was long overdue this evening.
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Branzino alla Griglia
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This makes a regular appearance on the white board, and when it does it was swimming in the Mediterranean just the day before. They have it flown in overnight, and it shows. Tonight it was stuffed with a few sprigs of rosemary, oiled and salted and grilled, then finished with a little raw parsley and lemon. The skin is charred and crisp, the flesh is flaky and moist, and you're just enveloped in the scent of fresh herbs as you eat. This is my favorite seafood dish in the city, and while it's a splurge at $32, I'd rather pay that because my fish was just overnighted from the Mediterranean than because the restaurant has to pay for an absurdly expensive buildout.
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Fusilli al Polpa di Granchio
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This one I hadn't seen before, and I wasn't going to double up on seafood until Giovanni insisted I get some crab. I have learned to get whatever they tell me to get. It's dungeness, over fusilli with olive oil, garlic, just a few grape tomatoes that burst, coloring and sweetening the oil, a substantial hit of dried chile for heat, and that's it. This was so freaking good, light but full-flavored, and the sweetness of the crab was front and center. 98% of the time you get a dish like this, and it's way overdone -- too much this, too much that, let's have it swim in wine, let's add some cream, let's drown it in a thick tomato sauce... no. Clean, light, simple, perfect. It sounds like they might have this on the menu for another day or two.

Andreoli Italian Grocer
www.andreoli-grocer.com
8880 E. Via Linda
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
480-614-1980
Dominic Armato
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Arizona Republic | azcentral.com
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BarbaraToombs
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7 years ago

Hey Dom...I haven't tried this place out yet, but figured I'd be benevolent to my (admittedly asshole) ex-husband, who is Italian and now lives in North Scottsdale. He'd already been there a couple of times, it turns out, and he said the service was terrible and the people (including the owner) were "rude." Now, I've never been one to take my ex-husband's word for much of anything (!), but what's your take on attitude/service? I would have thought they'd be extra-welcoming to one of their own kind.
Pete
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7 years ago

I don't really know the owners or staff in any way and I'm not Italian or Italian-American, and I thought service there was fine. The counter service was perfectly unremarkable, but the guy who brought our food to us was quite polite and helpful.

We've mostly ordered off of the sandwich board (which is still really good), but the few things we've gotten from the white board have all been both simple and delicious- perfect Italian. The worst thing I can say about this place is that some of our friends didn't really like a few of the non-Americanized cookies/pastries that we took home, and that was just a matter of taste/exposure.
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azhotdish
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7 years ago

Pete wrote:The worst thing I can say about this place is that some of our friends didn't really like a few of the non-Americanized cookies/pastries that we took home, and that was just a matter of taste/exposure.
I know, I really hate it when someone brings me a sfogliatelle when i'm craving an Oreo. :)
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

While I don't care to make any presumptions about your ex, I will say that I think if you're the kind of person who likes to get indignant about service, you'll probably find a way here :-)

Personally, I find it refreshing. They take your order, they serve you food, and if they smile and joke around with you, it isn't artificial. What they show is exactly how they are, which is to say usually pretty flat and businesslike until you've gone a few times and they start to recognize you, at which point they start to warm up. It's counter service, the food isn't always carefully paced... it's a grocery (albeit anw expensive one)... all things that I think rub some people the wrong way. I've certainly never found them to be rude, either now or when I first started going, but you know, for some people if they aren't greeted with a big smile and a "How are you doing today?" they read that as rude, so YMMV, I suppose.

Either way, I'm strongly of the opinion that it's a big mistake to pass on them because of service issues, real or perceived. There are a couple of notable places I need to try yet, but so far I'm of the opinion that Andreoli is completely unparalleled in the city.
Dominic Armato
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Mike Todd
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7 years ago

Employees at Andreoli have never greeted me with a beaming smile or 24 pieces of flair attached to their suspenders. That said, I wouldn't say they've ever been rude to me--sometimes they come off as curt when they're in a hurry to get orders going, but that's it.

Given that the sum total of the service there consists of someone taking your order at the counter, someone else walking the order out to your table, and then someone taking your money before you leave, their model doesn't really afford a lot of opportunities for what I would call terrible service.
Pete
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7 years ago

azhotdish wrote:I know, I really hate it when someone brings me a sfogliatelle when i'm craving an Oreo. :)
I really need to get to a place in life where people will randomly bring me sfogliatelle... In this case, though, I was talking about very mildly flavored, unfrosted Italian meringue cookies- good, but not necessarily a crowd-pleaser.
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Lunchbox
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7 years ago

I popped in there a few weeks ago on a Friday evening to pick up some food to go. It was the first time I'd been in and the woman behind the counter asked if I had ever been and gave me the run down of how it worked. I ordered a few things to go, waited a few minutes for them to be ready, paid and left. I didn't find the service over the top, but I wouldn't say it was bad either.

I found the portions to be a little small for the money but that's another subject. (I ordered a gnocchi special that was pretty small for the $17.95 price tag.) Everything else we had was pretty good though...

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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Lunchbox wrote:I found the portions to be a little small for the money but that's another subject. (I ordered a gnocchi special that was pretty small for the $17.95 price tag.)
The portion size is a matter of them being genuine primi rather than American-sized entrees (well... perhaps cheating slightly towards the latter, but closer to the former).

The prices on the white board are undeniably high. Dinner always ends up being $50/pp by the time we walk out of there. But I think a lot of that goes back into the food, and it shows. When somebody tells me, "No grocery charges that much," I say "No grocery makes food that good." If the alternative is an $11 fettuccine alfredo at DeFalco's, um... I'll pay the extra five bucks, thanks. And on most nights, I'd rather have killer pasta in a cozy grocery than okay pasta on a white tablecloth. For me, it's so good that I'll pay what I have to and maybe go less frequently if the budget doesn't allow. But I do understand how the price point can work against them when it comes to expectations, and I understand where people are coming from when those price tags give them pause.
Dominic Armato
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BarbaraToombs
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7 years ago

Thanks for debunking the "rude" myth (perpetuated by my "wonderful" ex, who does seek out reasons to complain!), guys. Andreoli is back on my must-try list! ;)
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Back to Andreoli!

A lovely dinner al fresco with the family this evening.
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Antipasti
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Simple antipasti to start -- some salumi, a bit of cheese, a few olives, some prosciutto... nothing fancy but oh so fabulous, due in no small part to...
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Bread
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...the bread. This is my favorite loaf of bread in the city. Why can't anybody else get this right?
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Pappardelle col Cinghiale
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My ladylove went with an old favorite, the Pappardelle col Cinghiale. Note: not saucy. A tangle of wide noodles covered in big chunks of tender boar. So, so good.
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Gnochetti alla Romana
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Man, when the Italians do rich, they do rich. Gnochetti alla Romana -- big gnocchi, Roman-style -- creamy, almost pudding-like slices of semolina dumplings, seared to a hard crisp on the surface and served atop a viscous, rich sauce laden with cheese (note: one cheese). I had flashbacks to my ten-year-old self, eating my way across Rome one plate of tortellini alla panna at a time. You look at this and think it's small, then two gnochetti in, you're not sure you can finish. Killer stuff.

I'm unsure of the precise dates, but Giovanni's heading back to the family farm in Calabria for the first two weeks of July, and Andreoli will be closed. Call and check before you go around that time.
Dominic Armato
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MyLifeOnVacatio
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7 years ago

The gnocchi looks amazing. Husband had that same dish 2 weeks ago, but they weren't seared. Just pillowy soft and so, so decadent. I just showed him the photo and now he wants to go back. Agree on the bread, too.
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MyLifeOnVacatio
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7 years ago

Since I've been spending the past few days visiting at the hospital up the street, I ventured over to Andreoli last night for that wild boar pappardelle. I got it to go and didn't get a shot of parmesan on top so while it was very good, it could have used that little extra flavor (for my taste). I'll have to remember to ask next time. Question - if I were to try to make a sauce like that at home, what cut would meat would yield a simlar result?

I appreciate that Andreoli sauces their pasta the right way. We went to Miele's the other night before an event at Changing Hands Bookstore and I was so happy to see their cavatelli bolognese on the menu, but disappointed in the plate full of soupy pink sauce that surrounded the otherwise pretty nice pasta. By way of that style of pasta, I haven't found anything better than noca's malloreddus. It's more of a winter pasta, but one of my very favorites.

Back to Andreoli - how's their pizza?
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BarbaraToombs
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7 years ago

Man, I have simply got to try this place. That gnochetti alla Romana looks fabulous...I haven't made that in YEARS...it's SO rich and undoubtedly fattening as hell, but my mouth watered just looking at that pic. Must make a plan.
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golbsalt
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7 years ago

Been going here since the place opened. Should have posted this one already - sorry for dropping the ball! Had an off the boat Sicilian friend (now deceased) who introduced me.

The best Italian grocer here in the U.S. outside of NYC I've had. If anyone finds it's equal here in the valley, I'd love to hear about it! Which reminds me I need to add Buon Appetito in San Diego to this board - but I digress.

Barbara the staff are cool and reserved, but once they begin to recognize you as a regular, they treat you like family. They'll interact, make recommendations, etc. Not jocular or overly smiley, but congenial. Francesca is the typical Italian mom, show her some love and she warms right up and won't soon forget you!

For those who are disappointed by the curt counter service, I'm sure there are a few of us here that could show you some much less friendly but equally delicious deli's & grocery's in Chi-town & NYC.

As for the food, I have to agree with the other conclusions here. Pricey - yes, but you are paying for fresh handcrafted portions. Smaller portions - yes. Delicious bordering on ethereal - yes, especially if you have a soft spot for hand crafted Italian. Every time I stop here, this place takes me back to my earliest culinary roots as a 19 yr old learning to cook from the old Italian ladies in my Brooklyn neighborhood.

I don't often find myself in Andreoli's neck of the woods anymore, but when I am, I always stop by, if for nothing more than just a bit of antipasti. (I'm a sucker for great charcuterie - ask Lunchbox)

And for the record - Dom's pic and descriptions of the Banzino and the Fusilli al Polpa doesn't do either of them justice - they are THAT good. IMHO
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gritsnyc
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7 years ago

For all the times I've traveled to that neck of the woods for Hiro Sushi, how have I missed this place?! I generally go to DeFalco's since it's so close to my house (and they're lovely there), but I will definitely have to check Andreoli out. Maybe tomorrow!
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

Andreoli and DeFalco's are in completely different worlds in terms of style, and completely different leagues in terms of artistry and quality. Get to Andreoli immediately, please.

(Which isn't to suggest that I don't also adore a good Italian-American deli... just not DeFalco's.)
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gritsnyc
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7 years ago

I shall. I'm fond of DeFalco's -- there's something about it that reminds me of my beloved Uncle Frank, who ran an Italian restaurant (with his mama in the kitchen) back in the day.

BUT!! I'm always up for better and the recs here are solid. Can't wait.
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Skillet Doux
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7 years ago

gritsnyc wrote:BUT!! I'm always up for better...
Even if I thought DeFalco's were awesome, I'd never compare the two. Completely different.

Do report back when you get there... and drop me a line if you want to grab lunch!
Dominic Armato
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gritsnyc
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7 years ago

So I made it over to Andreoli's for a late lunch today. And I loved it before I even ordered my sandwich -- you can check my Twitter feed to see why. What I left out: the boys were trying to pair me off with the busboy by the time I left, despite my obvious pregnancy and wedding ring. Hilarious.

I got the Bocca de Rosa (eggplant, mozzarella, tomato sauce) and it was amazing. Not your usual eggplant parm hero by any stretch of the imagination -- and that's OK. Almost a caramelized eggplant, not breaded, and light on the sauce -- which is usually an issue for me, but worked here. Nice little side salad, too.

I couldn't help but get two butter cookies to go, as well as a chocolate croissant for Steven. Both were excellent.

I can't wait to go back, despite the northern haul.
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