Looking for a quaint little Italian restaurant, but don’t want to drive to some of the more congested areas of the city?  Then you will be excited by this week’s Pick of the Week.  Sitting tucked inside the Citadelle shopping plaza, which is along 59thAvenue and a block North of Union Hills Drive.  The shopping center is anchored by Zipps and Biscuits Café, but further in near the Melting Pot is a charming restaurant that is serving up some fantastic pizzas and Italian dishes that will make you forget everything but your dining experience.  The minimalist restaurant is anchored by an open style kitchen with a raging Wood Fired Pizza oven that opens into a bar area and indoor and outdoor seating space.  The menu is filled with small plate and starter items as well as soups and salads. But there is also a large selection of pizzas and then comes the pasta dishes.  Most of the pasta dishes can be made with gluten free or vegan noodles upon request for a small upcharge as well.

We arrived in time to partake of their Happy Hour specials, which run from 3pm to 6pm, Monday through Saturday and then all day on Sunday.  Unlike many Happy Hour menus, this had eight different dishes available to try at a discounted price.  It is disheartening when you are told about Happy Hour savings, and you only see two items to pick from.  So we were thrilled to see so many options to pick from on this list.

We started with an order of Mini Meatballs ($6); this is also on the regular menu as Polpette – Meatballs ($9.95).  There are three meatballs that consist of a mixture of natural beef and pork.  They are served in a dish with Tomato sauce, some Parmigiano cheese and fresh basil.  The meatballs are not too dense, and you dip the complimentary bread into the sauce for an added treat.  It is a dish that can be shared, but either one person gets two or you have to be kind and divide one of them in half.  I personally would have paid slightly more for one extra meatball, in order not to have this situation arise.

The next dish we ordered was from their pizza menu selections.  We ordered a Speck and Brie Pizza ($14.95).  The hand tossed dough has a nice base of Red or Marinara sauce and then it is topped with Mozzarella and Brie cheese.  It is then finished with thin slices of smoked Prosciutto  Speck.  Speck refers to the process of its curing as well as the portion of the animal in which it comes from.  It has a light, salty taste but it is tougher to pull apart with just your teeth. I would recommend using a fork and knife to start so that you can become accustomed to the consistency of the meat. Also they cook their pizza in the style they feel is more authentic to the Italian style.  This means that the dough is thinner and creates a very thin and moist center.  Many people sometimes feel as if it is not cooked enough, it is.  The style is just not what you will find at a pizza place that is cranking out pizza after pizza in a non-traditional pizza oven.  This pizza is then finished off with a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a little extra flavor.  The pizza is cut into six good size slices.  It would be very easy for two people to share a pizza of this style, especially if ordering a salad or an appetizer first.  The speck pulled off the pizza a bit from the first bite, so it was better to curl the slice a bit to make more of a funnel shape for eating.  But the sauce and cheese all had beautiful balance, and I envision returning to order either a white pizza or another red pizza in the near future.

The final dish was an order of homemade Potato Gnocchi ($14.95).  You get the choice of either their traditional red sauce or for an extra fee ($2) you can have it with the white sauce.  The white sauce is a mixture of Gorgonzola and Parmigiano cheeses.  I asked if the kitchen would be willing to mix the two sauces together to make a sort of Rose sauce and they were happy to comply.  The mixture of the red and white sauce together and then the fresh gnocchi, made this dish phenomenal.  If you are a fan of perfectly done gnocchi, you will want to make a trip to this restaurant.

The wait staff was efficient, but the busser seemed to have nothing to do and made several passes through the dining room, without refreshing anything or removing anything.  It almost felt like he was trying to seem busy or get in his steps for his fitness watch. But the manager/owner was also in the dining room.  He was more efficient with his time and was sure to greet new and returning customers and has fantastic customer service flair.  The food was full of flavor and perfectly prepared, just watch out for the busser buzzing your table with his numerous flybys.

Location and Website – 19420 N 59th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85308,