By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Foothills Focus Executive Editor
Pizzicata owner Federico Venturini considers his guests and employees family at his Carefree Italian restaurant.
Guests impart stories of visits to Italy, from which Venturini hails. In turn, Venturini shares authentic dishes like Pinsa Romana, pizza (starting at $10) with 48% less sugar, 85% less fat and no cholesterol.
“We’re the first to make Pinsa Romana in Arizona,” Venturini said proudly. “People love and enjoy our patio, and it’s a beautiful area up here.”
Venturini and his chef/wife, Viola, moved to the North Valley two years ago from a small town in Umbria, an Italian region bordering Tuscany, Lazio and Le Marche. They opened the restaurant on September 26. He didn’t expect the success he has garnered.
“People love our food,” he said. “We are the only authentic Italian restaurant in North Scottsdale and Carefree.”
He chose to open Pizzicata in Carefree after visiting a friend from Paradise Valley.
“I came here to stay together with his family,” Venturini said. “He showed me this country. I changed completely my life. Five years ago, I started my plan to open this restaurant. First, it’s very hard to get the visa. But I realized my dream in five years. Italians love Americans, and Americans love Italians.”
Pizzicata is part of a chain that has locations also in Nice, France; Barcelona, Spain; and two in Italy. Soon, they will open Pomodoro Italian Grill and Seafood, an upscale restaurant in the former Cartwright’s location in Cave Creek.
Pizzicata is a bit more casual, serving pizza—which is 65% to 70% of the business—and homemade pasta such as fettuccine, gnocchi, ravioli, lasagna and tortellini ($18-$28).
“People love our pasta,” he said.
Appetizers at Pizzicata include caprese, which features fresh tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, burrata and prosciutto di parma ($14); and polpette al sugo, simply meatballs in tomato sauce ($10).
Salads are aplenty, with insalata di gamberi a showpiece—arugula, shrimp, mango, avocado, red onion and yogurt dressing ($15).
All desserts are $10—lava cake, tiramisu, cannoli, cheesecake, lemon sorbet stuffed, coconut sorbet stuffed and crème brulee.
Venturini is managing to make it through the pandemic, thanks to a successful winter season and the Paycheck Protection Program loan.
“I think the government did a great job,” he said. “My employees are more like my sons and daughters. We have one big family. I kept all my employees at work during the quarantine. I didn’t fire no one. We survived.”
Those familial feelings carry over into the atmosphere. Walls are adorned with paintings and photographs of Italy and Tesla lamps. A well-stocked bar separates the red-accented dining rooms.
“There is no Italian atmosphere like this place,” he said. “My guests try to speak in Italian, and they share with me their experiences of them being in Italy one time in their life. It’s a nice atmosphere. I have special customers, and I’m very happy.”