Tucson Restaurant Review: North Fattoria Italiana
The new version of NoRTH Restaurant at La Encantada is open for business. According to Chef Chris, NoRTH has been open for 10 years. I was thinking 8 years. But apparently, it was time for a facelift.
The Fattoria which means “farm” in Italian has a whole new look including young servers wearing plaid flannel shirts. Somehow it feels bigger and that’s because, according to our waiter, 30 percent of the seats have been removed so you no longer feel like sardines. Unfortunately, the noise level remains but a younger demographic than myself thrives on it.
Not only is there an open kitchen, but the food prep is right out front where staff makes fresh pasta and thinly slices the in-house cured meats. Vegetables are being cut and I almost felt I could jump in and get to work.
Tonight special guests were invited and I did feel special. My friend Edie Jarolim and I shared the Chef’s Board — the chef’s selection of two meats and two cheese and some special add-ins. I know we had braesaola and another thinly sliced salumi as well as two cheeses, a Wisconsin white cheddar and crescenza with a dollop of pesto. As accompaniments, meat topped with apricot preserves, pickled sweet peppers, spiced nuts and the very best castelvetrano olives. I will gladly return to share the chef’s board with a glass of wine during happy hour.
The entrees shared include ricotta gnocchi — beef short ribs, arugula, horseradish crema, and bread crumbs. This is a bowl full of rustic goodness; Italian comfort food. Melt in your mouth meat with token greens lightly swabbed with the crema and brushed with savory bread crumbs. My only regret, the horseradish was a tad too weak. Edie and I both thought this dish needed more of a kick.
Another entree of grilled tuna medallions with borlotti bean ragu, Tuscan kale, grilled cipollini onions, and lemon conserve had a lightness of being, beans and all.
As for the prices, moderate for the Foothills. Think antipasti and salade from $5 to 16/average $10; pizze $12-$15; pasta $13-$16; secondi $16-31 (steak); and desserts are all $6.
Speaking of desserts — OMG. We shared the salted caramel budino which is custard served in a small jar. The sweet, the salty, and the creamy. One has to wonder where salted caramel has been hiding practically my entire life.
Cocktails cost $10. Wines by the glass start at $5.75 and beer averages around $5. You can even get a “cheap can” for $3.
On a temperate night I suggest sitting outside and looking into the twinkling landscapes below. North Fattoria Italiana is a hip, happening Fox Restaurant Concept kind of place. Check it out soon at La Encantada – 2995 E. Skyline Drive – 299-1600.