I took the kids to a movie on Saturday night, and noticed a new place in the old Frankie's location just outside the Harkin's theater at the Scottsdale 101 center. (I know this is really Phoenix). We stopped in afterward for a quick dinner, and I'm happy to say they may finally have a restaurant that will work in that location.
This is another quick serve spot that some may not appreciate, but they seem to have it buzzing along quite well. You walk and past a small waiting area. Directly ahead is a case with baked goods (pretty good looking stuff), and then the counter to order. They have paper menus outside, larger, nicer paper menus inside, and then the whole menu on a giant board behind the register. After ordering, they give you a little card with a number on it. You place that in the stand on each table, and the food is brought to you. The system worked well during my visit, and we sat outside on the patio.
The menu has four sections: starters, salads, pizza (wood burning oven) and sandwiches. I guess I would describe the menu as casual with an Italian inclination. Starters include beef carpaccio ($10), two antipasto, as well as a rotisserie chicken ($12), grilled chicken pasta and smoked salmon pasta (both $10). (Maybe it's not a starter section, but a "we don't know where else to put this on the menu" section). The antipasto look interesting. The Pino ($10) includes burrata, roasted peppers, marinated eggplant, grilled artichoke and homemade bread. The Mea Culpa ($17) comes with prosciutto, salami, pate, assorted cheeses, olives, etc. Any place that serves burrata impresses me these days, although I didn't get to try it.
It was just me and the kids, so I ordered a pizza for them and a grilled chicken sandwich for me. There are 12 different pizzas on the menu, although they also have a myriad of toppings available including egg, artichokes, anchovies, tuna, and the usual stuff. The pizzas are all cooked in the wood burning oven, and have a great crust. I mistakenly ordered the Marinara ($9), which is just tomato sauce, garlic and oregano (no cheese). Not a good idea with kids, but they liked it. The sauce had a great depth of flavor, and the crust was delicious. This isn't Pizzaria Bianco, bit it was pretty darn good.
My chicken sandwich ($10) came with melted fontina cheese, tomato and arugula on more of the homemade bread. The chicken was thick, juicy and perfectly cooked. It arrived with french fries and a side salad in a little glass bowl on the plate. This was a lot of food, since the sandwich was big, there were a lot of fries, and the salad was actually pretty substantial. The fries were thin, crisp and reminded me a bit of Zinc Bistro. The salad was mixed greens and a little shredded carrot, tossed in a little olive oil. It was all very good, and I took half my sandwich home. Other sandwiches include a caprese, french dip, vegetable, tuna, etc.
The staff was very friendly and very nice with the kids. I wouldn't say this is a family restaurant, but at 6:45 on a Saturday night there were several families there after movies. Our waitress told me this is the first Cafepino in the U.S. Apparently, they have a few Pizzapinos in Europe. They are also opening a Pizzapino in downtown Scottsdale near the new Sushi Roku. She said the owner is a gentleman who opened Christopher's and apparently bought AJ's from the original owner before selling it Bashas. There were several men with Italian accents helping out and checking in on us, and I assume they are either owners or managers.
In any case, I liked it a lot. Certainly a great place to stop before or after a movie if you're in that part of town. I don't know that I would go out of my way to dine there, but it's perfect for a quick, casual dinner out with fresh, good tasting food. Certainly a great option in the Scottsdale 101 center which is full of chains.
I did not have anything to drink, but I saw several glasses of wine go by. All of the desserts looked very good, as did the biscotti and pastry in the case up front. I'll definitely be back, and I'm guessing this place will be packed soon.
7000 E. Mayo Blvd.