And what a cool place to hang: The vibe is urban comfort – modern but not stark. I love the juxtaposition of sliced citrus for your water, presented on a silver tray, followed by delivery of warm ciabatta in a paper sack.
Don’t even think about skipping the drunk bread ($12, dinner only). A searing hot cast-iron skillet holds the most glorious slab of wine-soaked ciabatta, smothered in bubbling, browned Gruyère, with a good dose of butter and herbs. Enough said.
I’ll never tire of caprese ($12) when it’s this good. Local Bistro delivers a stunning stack of juicy tomatoes, house-made mozzarella and torn basil, drizzled with grassy olive oil and aged balsamic.
You can’t go wrong ordering pasta, whether it’s the not-really-spicy bucatini all’amatriciana ($14) with pancetta, tomatoes, scallions and a hint of garlic (our server swore the chef serves this to his own mother) or the house-made pappardelle bolognese ($16) with fat ribbons bathed in meat sauce. I had my eye on the next table’s spaghetti alla carbonara, with an oozing egg yolk, but it’s only available upon request.
The creamy risottos make me swoon. Two are on the menu, plus a daily risotto. Once it was lobster and mushroom ($18) with a healthy portion of crustacean chunks and an earthy risotto base. On another occasion it was saffron risotto with a lamb shank, osso buco-style ($17) and a sprinkling of dried mint – sublime. The juicy, bone-in Berkshire pork chop, with a pineapple port demi-glace, sautéed spinach and roasted potatoes ($14) is also terrific.
The wood-fired pizzas Napoletana-style are respectable but don’t measure up to others around town. It’s not the toppings – such as two-year-aged pepperoni ($12) or wild mushroom, arugula and a whisper of truffle oil ($14). It’s the crust. It’s perfectly blistered and thin, but it lacks flavor.
Desserts skew Italian – hazelnut panna cotta ($7), Nutella calzone ($10), and a jumbo ramekin of perfect tiramisu ($6). The calzone is delicious but messy, and the tough pizza dough is impossible to cut.
After three visits, I’m convinced that Local Bistro means “neighborhood gem.”
Cuisine: Italian/French bistro
Address: 20581 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday; brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; happy hour 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday
Highlights: Drunk bread ($12), bucatini all’amatriciana ($14), wild mushroom pizza ($14), daily risotto ($17-$18), tiramisu ($6)
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