Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen has long been a favorite for guests with food allergies and sensitivities, but hungry diners without those concerns are also in for a treat.
Picazzo’s has evolved extensively over the years. They started out in Sedona as the fairly traditional, but popular Pizza Picazzo’s in the early-2000’s. Now, in 2017, Picazzo’s four – soon to be five – locations are home to organic, sustainable, gluten-free dishes that everyone can feel good about eating.
The ambience is slightly different at every Picazzo’s. The Tempe/Chandler location on Warner Rd has a relaxing bar and lounge adjacent to the large dining room and patio seating is available as well. On Wednesday evenings, they have live acoustic entertainment that can be heard in both rooms, but is not overpowering in either.
Picazzo’s has a full bar and specialty cocktails available for $10. The Zo’s Sangria is made in-house and is a light, fruit-filled red sangria that was well-described by Tempe General Manager Sean Manning as a “patio pounder.” Picazzo’s was one of the first restaurants to support the budding Arizona craft beer scene back in the day. Today, they have a beer list that includes draft selections from across the state and, of course, gluten-free options are available. The wine list features organic Chilean wines. The remainder of the list is standard but wide-ranging.
Everything on the menu except for two of the four pizza crust options are gluten-free. Vegan and vegan-optional dishes are clearly marked as well. I cannot stress enough – if you or a loved one has food allergies, sensitivities or any other dietary restrictions, Picazzo’s is one of those heavenly places where the anxiety that often accompanies eating out dissipates. The food menu is quite expansive but divided into easily discernible sections so it won’t be too hard to find what you’re looking for.
In the starters, the warm Baked Brie is oozing and creamy. It is served with a Fuji apple and housemade foccacia. There is also a ramekin of roasted garlic that brings the dish to a whole new level. Mama’s Meat-za Balls are made with ground turkey and served with herbed parmesan, basil and plenty of organic marinara sauce.
One of the biggest surprises of the night was one of the newest additions to the Picazzo’s menu. The Spicy Thai Peanut Quinoa Bowl has quickly become one of the most popular menu items. Sliced chicken breast and a variety of vegetables give substance to the dish. The spicy peanut sauce along with chile flakes and Sriracha slaw provide considerable kick. There’s so much flavor going on here, it’s easy to see why it’s become a mainstay. There are three other quinoa bowls available as well.
The pizza is available in two sizes – 12” or 16”. You can choose from one of the Signature Creations or go with the Create Your Own option. There are four dough options – gluten-free, gluten-free and vegan, organic original and organic whole wheat. All of the doughs are made in-house on a daily basis. The organic original dough is thin and chewy. It is tasty but lets the toppings shine. From the Signature Creations, the Puttanesca Pizza has artichokes, Kalamata olives, sliced tomatoes, basil, garlic, feta and mozzarella cheeses on an olive oil base. Quite an array of flavors and they all work well together. The Fig Gorgonzola is another olive oil-based pie. It is topped with chopped figs, caramelized onions, garlic, and gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses. It is finished with arugula and a fig-balsamic vinegar. This is a great choice if you enjoy a little bit of sweetness. It’s a natural sweetness from the caramelization, the figs and the rich balsamic drizzle. The cheese is also more prominent than on the Puttanesca.
If you’re not in the mood for pizza, Picazzo’s also has a variety of pastas and comfort dishes. The Lasagna Bolognese features the housemade turkey bolognese and the noodles (keep in mind these are gluten-free noodles) were cooked to perfection. The dish was hearty and cheesy and everything you want from a good lasagna.
The dessert list includes Tiramisu, a hot Apple Crisp and an ultimate brownie, among others. All are made in-house with the exception of the cheesecake. You’ll feel great even after a full meal, so use that as the excuse to treat yourself.
Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and has “Healthy Hour” from 3pm to 6pm. For more information and to see the complete menu, visit picazzos.com.