My wife and I had dinner last weekend at Sassi; we were on a “date” without the children. I had heard many good things about Sassi - the restaurant is styled after an Italian villa and the chef trained under Mario Batali in New York City. I was excited to see the restaurant and to taste the food.
We made reservations for 8pm on Saturday night which we barely made since I did not realize how far this place was from Chandler!
The location is very nicely lit up from the outside; the entrance is lined with small bubbling fountains. I’ve been to Italy many times and have never seen any houses or villas like this though All in all, the outside was pleasing to the senses.
Once inside, we were promptly seated in one of the dining rooms (the kitchen room – which I chose when I made the reservation) and given menus to peruse. Our table was nicely set and the place was packed. The only complaint I would have was that our 2-top table was in the middle of the room making it seem like we were on center stage.
There was an abundance of wait staff milling around; however, our server took quite a long time to make her presence known to us. It was understandable considering the restaurant was full plus there was a wedding being held in their banquet area. Not that big of a deal since we were chatting and checking out the menu; but, I always like my wait person to greet me and say hi promptly. Once she arrived she was very pleasant and helpful.
We decided to start with some anitpasti; I ordered the “Spiedino di Manzo” ($10) which was described as “grilled Niman Ranch beef tip skewers organic cherry tomatoes, local arugula, lemon, Parmigiano”.
My wife started with the “Gamberi al Forno” which were described
as “wood roasted shrimp, asparagus, lemon, roasted garlic, prosciutto broth”.
After ordering, I took a walk to the men’s room and looked around the rest of the restaurant; there were some very nice touches inside. I was impressed. As I was walking back to my table, I heard someone greet me in Italian. At first I was not sure he was talking to me, but then I recognized him as the waiter at a restaurant I used to frequent a few years ago. It was nice to be able to speak Italian in an Italian restaurant. During our conversation, he informed me that the mozzarella in the “Insalata Caprese” was imported from Italy and was very good. So, when I returned to our table we decided to try that as an appetizer/salad ($15) too.
The 3 antipasti arrived and we commenced with our Italian feast...
The spiedino consisted of one skewer and was very good; the Parmigiano cheese that came with it was excellent! I was hoping the “Spiedino” was going to be “Spiedini” (i.e more than one) since the $10 seemed kind of pricey for one skewer.
My wife enjoyed the gamberi even though they were different than any way we’ve seen them prepared before. The baby shrimp were nicely cooked with asparagus pieces; but the shrimp in a prosciutto broth seemed kind of odd to me – seafood and pork mixed, I’ve never seen this in Italy.
The “Insalata Caprese” was very, very good. The dish consisted of a whole buffalo mozzarella in the center of 5 slices of heirloom tomatoes with basil atop the tomatoes. This was definitely the highlight of the 3 appetizers.
Now it was time for our Primo selection. We picked up our menus and looked over the choices. My wife talked me into spliting the primo course so that we could have room for each of us to order our own secondo course. We returned to the menus and discussed what we should try; it was a difficult decision; but, we finally decided on the “Fettucini Alfredo” ($20). The description read: “hand made fettucini ‘Burro’ Luigi Guffanti Parmigiano Reggiano “Boni” 3 years”. The cheese selection made it hard to pass up. The funny thing is that if you go to Italy you would never find this dish called Fettucini Alfredo; it does not exist in Italy. This is really “Pasta con burro e formaggio”; but, “pasta with butter and cheese” doesn’t sound too exciting.
The pasta promptly arrived at our table. I know it was a primo dish, and we were splitting it, but the portion was definitely a one person primo plate. Despite the small sample, this was the highlight of the evening for me! The fettucini were clearly homemade and cooked perfectly. My mom makes this same dish and this was almost as good! I came close to licking my plate to be sure I hadn’t missed any part of the dish. I almost ordered this again as my secondo!
OK back to the menu...
Even though I wanted more pasta, I went with the “Spiedini di Salsiccia alla Lucania” ($18) which was described as “house made sausage, Basilicata style peperonata , broccoli rabe pesto”. My wife chose the “Fileto di Manzo” ($38) which was described as “wood grilled tenderloin, Burro Guffanti “Cacio e Pepe”, 20 year balsamic, heirloom tomato, horseradish”. Since she doesn’t care for horseradish she asked that it be left off.
For the “contorni”, or side dishes, we chose the “Patata al Forno” ($5) which were “wood roasted young organic potatoes” and the “Zucca con Noci” ($5) which were “wood roasted butternut squash, honey, walnuts”.
All arrived very quickly; my wife said that the steak was cooked perfectly (medium rare) and that it had just made her top 3 list of “best steaks ever”. I tried a bite and agreed with her; it was very good!
My sausage dish was just OK. The sausage was a little too sweet for my taste and the “broccoli rabe pesto” on top was sampled and then pushed aside. As a friend of our family says “I’ve had better”.
The contorni were awesome. The potatoes were lightly salted and left whole and the “Zucca con Noci” was unbelievable! I am not a big fan of butternut squash, but this dish made me love them. I am glad that my wife insisted that we try this one. I would recommend this!
Finally, we went for the desert plate. We decided to split the “Crostata di Mela” ($7). I was so full that I barely tasted it. It had a pine nut gelato which was interesting. Not good, but interesting (my wife enjoyed it). My espresso ($4) was a double and very good.
Total bill ~$150. No wine. Just some iced tea and bottled water.
All in all, I enjoyed my meal and experience at this restaurant; I will probably try it again in the near future.
10455 E Pinnacle Peak Pkwy
(Not Pinnacle Peak Road)
Scottsdale, AZ 85255