It has been a few years since we had been back to EVO in Scottsdale, and after a recent dinner visit, we were wondering what took us so long to get back to this Italian-inspired gem.
Whether having a Sunday-evening family meal, out on a date night or visiting with friends, EVO offers the perfect setting. The environment is warm and welcoming, a spot where you don’t need to whisper to tablemates but you won’t hear thumping music and huge crowds either. Our favorite seat? A big, comfy booth by the bar where you have views of the patio as well as the TV’s.
Regardless of where you settle in, one thing is for certain: bring your appetite and your best stretchy pants. Dishes at EVO are big, and they are hearty (making it even better to order several dishes and share). EVO has become known for its incredible hand-rolled meatballs (pictured). The melt-in-your-mouth beauties–there are three on a plate–are served with pomodoro sauce, basil and a sweet drizzle of balsamic. These meatballs are of like-grandma-used-to-make levels and will impress even those who insist that their family meatball recipe is best of all. The focaccia starter is just as decadent as the meatballs, with brie, mascarpone, sea salt and a divine coating of local honey. Impossible to eat just one slice (it is served like a rectangular pizza cut into about eight slices), the focaccia is simultaneously creamy and crispy, and we were tempted to have a second round for dessert.
For a lighter start to your meal, the EVO salad (pictured) is a menu favorite that made a big impression during our first visit years ago. The salad comprises dried kale, roasted brussels sprouts, pear, pancetta, pine nuts, chevre and balsamic. The salty pancetta and chevre was delicious with the sweet pear and balsamic, and greens seem less “my mom is making me eat it” when deliciously browned and crispy as in this salad.
Though the lineup of pizzas and meat and seafood entrees is brimming with tempting dishes (our next visit calls for lobster carbonara), we stuck with a few house-made pasta dishes. The orecchiette, pared with fennel sausage, Calabrian chile, parmesan and kale, is cooked to utter perfection in a dish that is spicy and flavor-packed. The seafood cioppino (pictured) is brimming with mussels, shrimp, calamari and seasonal fish (there is no skimping on seafood here) and is placed on a bed of squid ink pasta with a rich tomato fume (keep the bread that comes with the meatball dish to soak up this broth). As with the orecchiette, the pasta is primo and is even better swirled around one of the plump shrimp or mussel.
In addition to unique housemade gelato and ice cream flavors (fernet gelato, anyone?), EVO impresses with its Nutella cannoli. Each mini shell is filled with a creamy Nutella center and topped with a fruit puree, whipped cream and caramelized pecans. Pair it with a cup of cappuccino–which will also help from slipping into a food coma on the way home–and enjoy a mighty happy ending to your EVO visit.
PS: EVO hosts an delicious Sunday Brunch After Dark menu with dishes like pork belly and waffles, bolognese baked eggs and breakfast pizza.