Sometimes a pizza craving comes along and you’re in the mood for something a little more festive than a cardboard box and grease-coated napkins. Cave Creek’s new high-end pizza joint, Amaro Pizzeria and Vino Lounge, offers such an experience. Opened in the fall near Tatum and Dynamite Boulevards, Amaro dishes up several specialty pizzas (with red and white sauce) as well as classic Italian eats, from pastas to chicken parmesan. Before digging into the appetizer selection, guests are given a big plate of Italian bread sided with top-notch olive oil and shredded parmesan, and we suggest the amazing pane caprese appetizer as a follow up. The impressive starter features a bed of toasted foccacia, pulled mozzarella, garlic-marinated tomatoes, basil pesto and a balsamic reduction drizzle. The crunchy foccacia cubes, creamy bits of mozzarella and juicy bursts of tomato is a welcome texture combination. The peppery pesto and sweet tomatoes and balsamic beautifully finish off the plate. Be sure to save some of that pre-dinner bread to swipe the pane caprese plate clean of its balsamic reduction.
Amaro stays true to its pizzeria designation with its selection of ‘za that ranges from the traditional margherita to the more unique Dolce Arrabiata with fresh mozzarella, Taleggio-caramelized sweet onions, sweet and spicy Italian sausage, Calabrian chilies, extra virgin olive oil and basil. The table favorite is the tomato-spinach pizza. The six-slice pizza (plenty for a table of two to share) is topped with fresh mozzarella, parmesan, oven-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, baby spinach, extra virgin olive oil and basil. The plump tomatoes and garlic bulbs add a bit of sweetness, and the slices aren’t stingy with the spinach and basil leaves. (There are several a lá carte toppings on the Amaro menu, including sopressata and roasted red peppers, to choose from, as well.)
From pizza to pasta, Amaro’s conventional lasagna is certainly a sight to behold. The massive slice features bolognese sauce, fresh semolina pasta, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and fresh herbs. The flavor of the meaty bolognese sauce is the highlight of the lasagna—very flavorful and comforting. The only downside to this dish is that it is served solo, with no veggies or other sides to round it out. Though the lasagna piece is certainly large enough to fill up any belly, a side salad or a helping of seasonal veggies would make the meal more complete.
For a sweet finale, trust the classic: The New York-style cheesecake, with a slightly burnt top, is forkfuls upon forkfuls of dessert decadence. Amaro’s creamy cheesecake is crowned with an out-of-this-world balsamic-strawberry reduction spotlighting big berry chunks and an addicting savory-sweet finish. www.amaroaz.com.
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