The authentic slices at this chic, whimsical Scottsdale spot are like pie in the sky.
The heart of this terrific new Neapolitan-style pizzeria looks a bit like a melted marshmallow. It’s a large, lumpish, white-tiled wood-burning oven that adds another touch of whimsy to the already playful decor, including a fuchsia ceiling; baby blue and lemon walls; chairs painted green, purple and silver; and a long bar of weathered wood that looks like a child used crayons to color its panels. But a backdrop of torn newspaper clippings and a wall of false doors and windows lend the eatery a Euro-chic feel and hint at its Italian culinary pedigree.
Opened in May, Teatro is a bit of a departure for its owner, William Nasralla, who also owns the gourmet Blu Burger Grille next door in the Summit at Scottsdale plaza. But he insists he has nothing to do with the kitchen. The pizzaiolo is 50-year-old Chef Francesco Savinetti, who made pizzas for more than three decades in Rome before Nasralla lured him to Arizona. The pasta chef is Fabio Ceschetti (from defunct Davanti Enoteca), who also makes the daily breads and desserts.
It’s no stretch to say this is some of the Valley’s best pizza, starting with the thin, pillowy crust bubble-charred at the edges and a bit soft in the middle. In authentic style, flour is imported from Italy, as are fundamental ingredients like tomatoes, mozzarella and meats, and toppings are applied lavishly but with perfect balance for flavor and texture.
The classic Margherita ($11) is slathered in slightly spicy red sauce, creamy orbs of mozzarella, and fresh, bright basil leaves, while a white Vicolo ($14) combines mozzarella, porcini, prosciutto and a drizzle of pungent truffle oil. Other mouthwatering pies include the Finocchio ($14), layered with pepperoni and porcini, and the lavishly dressed Capricciosa ($14) with artichoke hearts, mozzarella, black olives, prosciutto cotto, mushrooms and extra-virgin olive oil. Teatro also makes one of the most satisfying calzones ($12) I’ve had – a crusty golden pocket stuffed with a gooey mélange of mozzarella, ricotta, salami, prosciutto cotto and tangy basil leaves.
As superb as the pizza is, it would be a mistake to miss the rest of the brief menu, dotted with panini ($10-$12) and salads such as a vibrant roasted chicken version tossed with strawberries, spicy candied pecans and gorgonzola ($13). The old-fashioned, gently spicy spaghetti with homemade beef, pork and veal meatballs ($13) goes straight to my soul, and lobster ravioli ($17) is draped with tomato-pesto cream sauce that adds silky richness without obscuring the quality seafood.
I could make a meal of antipasti and a glass or two of Italian and California wines, or the fun Bellini Meanie Martini. Salumi and cheese plates ($13 each) change frequently but always feature fine selections like Piave Vecchio and prosciutto di parma, paired with goodies like olives, honey and hot-from-the-oven focaccia.
Just sitting and watching the busy servers bustle in the tiny space, the delights emerging from the oven, and the eclectic mix of clientele, it’s impossible to not be happy here.
Address: 32409 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
Hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday,
4-9 p.m. Sunday
Highlights: Margherita pizza ($11); Vicolo pizza ($14); Capricciosa pizza ($14); calzone ($12); spaghetti and meatballs ($13)