I rarely eat in Italian restaurants. Raised on basic Italian fare, I'm put off by menus featuring chicken parmigiani and "gourmet" versions of pasta fagioli (peasant food, made with white beans and macaroni in a watery tomato broth, but invariably Italian-Americanized with veal and a half-dozen vegetables in the pretentious "Italian" diners that serve it).
Jackie Mercandetti Seafood risotto at Franco's Italian Cafe.
Franco's Italian Café is an exception I am always happy to make. Offering a sophisticated cuisine both rustic and refined, this posh Scottsdale restaurant's tired décor (exposed ductwork; big black-and-white framed photos of Italian movie stars) is less kitsch or bad planning than an homage to our recent culinary past, when Franco's was a mainstay of fine Italian dining.More »