MEET GIOVANNI SCORZO

Giovanni_Making_Pizza.jpeg

Meet the Chef

Larger than life, hard-nosed and sometimes cantankerous, Giovanni Scorzo sports a personality as direct as his food. But while the outspoken ideologue has ruffled more than his share of feathers, it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who will question his chops.

Scorzo grew up in a family of cooks, both professional and amateur. His father, Serafino Scorzo, butchered a pig once a year, utilizing every part to make salumi like prosciutto, ‘nduja and capicola. But his mother, Adele Andreoli — for whom the restaurant is named — was a restaurant cook and Scorzo’s strongest childhood influence.

Born in Calabria, raised in Liguria and trained in fine restaurants all over Italy, Scorzo ran multiple acclaimed restaurants before Andreoli. In 1989, then Arizona Republic dining critic Elin Jeffords gave his first Scottsdale restaurant, La Bruschetta, a nearly perfect score, calling it “one of the finest restaurants in town.” The paper subsequently named his second effort, Leccabaffi, the best Italian restaurant in the city in 2000.

Serving authentic Italian dishes that Scorzo ate and cooked while growing up in Italy and a selection of Italian goods as well as house cured salumi, formaggi and bread and pastries made daily, Andreoli oozes authentic Italian flair.

Giovanni has been specializing in Italian food for years and is known as a purist. Some guests endearingly refer to him as the Seinfeld soup Nazi’s equivalent for Italian food. He is most proud that he adheres to preparing and serving food as it would be served in Italy.

Scorzo learned his craft first from his mother, and perfected his cooking in different fine restaurants all through Italy. Scorzo has an uncompromising nature when it comes to his food and demands that it meets his high standards before ever serving it to his patrons.

 

The Legend of Giovanni Scorzo

Coming to America

In 1985, Linda Rupp, an ASU student was just four days into a semester in Italy when she received her first marriage proposal — five minutes after meeting Scorzo. “I thought he was crazy,” Linda recalls. “Now I know he is.”

Giovanni followed Linda back to Arizona and the couple eventually married. Upon moving to the US, Scorzo was astonished by the horrors he discovered in Italian restaurants around the Valley.

He says he recalls watching cooks prepare a week’s supply of marinara — standing on ladders, dumping industrial-sized cans of tomato concentrate and garlic powder into a stainless steel vat with a spigot at the bottom.

Scorzo was aghast. But he didn’t blame the Americans. “It’s the Italian people’s fault,” Scorzo says. "The idea to put meatballs on top of the pasta, who made it? Americans? No. The Italians. They created this mess.”

In 1998, Giovanni and Linda Scorzo made a bid to take Italian cuisine back from the “food terrorists”. This became an oft-repeated term for those who would bastardize Italian cuisine.

The couple launched La Bruschetta, which was fine-dining Italian ristorante named for a dish that few Americans had heard of. There were a few bumps along the way and Scorzo’s stubbornness to compromise his food led to some criticisms from food critics.

“I had a lot of nice customers, but some people, they don’t want to see the real thing,” Scorzo says. “(Linda) helped me a lot. I felt like I was going nuts. I said, why don’t they understand what I’m trying to do?”

Frustrated by critics and trying to exemplify what true Italian cuisine should be, Scorzo and Linda moved to Santa Fe to open a second restaurant, Babbo Ganzo. But trying to run two restaurants in two cities while starting a family proved too much. Scorzo sold La Bruschetta.

 

After a three-year run at Zingari in San Francisco, Scorzo decided California was too expensive and he and his family moved back to Arizona.

Leccabaffi was his second restaurant in Arizona. It was an upscale ristorante in the La Bruschetta mold, complete with critical acclaim, and a cultish fan base.

Leccabaffi lasted four years, overlapping with Galileo, an Italian bakery that would pave the way for Andreoli. But balancing early baker’s hours with late restaurant nights proved to be too much for the chef as he constantly found himself exhausted.

Scorzo spent the following years as a stay-at-home dad, feeding and caring for his three kids while cooking up a plan to launch a new business. This would not be a traditional restaurant, but more of a casual market where most of the staff would inhabit the kitchen. Scorzo would use this as a platform to cook whatever he pleased and have it be a place where an entire family could spend the evening.

Thirteen years, two additional dining rooms and multiple television appearances later, Andreoli is a Scottsdale institution that has not only connected with the local audience, but a national one.

Scorzo Family_edited.jpg