exterior Italian restaurant

Fresh Italian Food al Fresco: Si or No

In Foodie Tips & Tidbits by Jackie Brett

NORTH ITALIA IS A FRESH TWIST TO DINING

contributed by Jackie Brett

exterior Italian restaurantFor a change, a new restaurant opens in the valley and not in a tourist corridor like the Strip or Downtown. North Italia opened in mid-December at the Rampart Commons neighborhood mall a couple doors down from an established popular dining venue Honey Salt and across from Boca Park. This is the 12th North Italia with established locations already in Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas and Texas.

For starters, North Italia has curb appeal with a welcoming 1,579-square-foot patio set behind outdoor planters and red umbrellas with a fireplace surrounded by square colorful design tiles on one side and an entire wall picture of an empty dock extending quietly into a body of water on the other. A large bar, which has one side on the patio and the other inside the restaurant, is the grand divider along with floor to ceiling glass windows and doors.

The open look is carried inside the 5,518-square-foot interior with white shiplap walls, wood flooring and a wood-slated ceiling transitioning all the way to the back wall, which is an open open-view kitchen set behind more glass windows. On the wall above in Italian script and translated below the copy reads “Eat when you’re hungry, drink when you’re thirsty, sleep when you’re tired.”

On a wall next to the red trimmed glass front door, large copy in a circle reads “Handmade with love from scratch daily” and est. 2002. North Italia promotes using only the best ingredients with the chefs starting from scratch daily even making the pasta. In essence, the airy modern family-friendly setting is one of comfort, community and healthy livin

The food focuses on traditional Italian fare with a modern inventive twist and interestingItalian dessert in a cup flavor combinations. The menu selections are thoughtful and not overwhelming and feature small plates, pizza and pasta with a gluten-free option, sandwiches, salads, main dishes and desserts along with hand-shaken cocktails. Having tried the house specialty Bolognese, Italian Farm salad, and divine Tiramisu, a return trip is eminent.

Fox Restaurant Concept’s North Italia seating 159 guests inside and around 90 outside is located at 1069 South Rampart Blvd. in space previously occupied by the Gap and Banana Republic. Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, hours are: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Happy Hour is Monday-Thursday 3-6 p.m. with all beers $4, glass of wine or sangria $5, and food $3-$20.