If anyone’s going to open another Italian restaurant in this town, it had better be something special. But the people behind Fiamma — Italian for "flame" — aren’t worried about getting burned.
"They’re going to know there’s a difference when they eat here," said Michael White, executive chef at Fiamma Trattoria inside the ultra-hip James Hotel in Scottsdale.
The striking dining room is the first thing you’ll notice. Red upholstered booths with a beige flame motif contrast with contemporary black and silver place settings.
But it’s what’s behind the scenes that White hopes will make the biggest impression. All pastas are made fresh, and the best-quality authentic ingredients are flown in regularly, from real Italian ricotta to the finest spices.
And White has talent: He was named chef of the year by Esquire magazine in November 2002, and the original Fiamma in New York picked up a 2002 James Beard Award nomination as best new restaurant. There’s a Fiamma in Las Vegas as well.
While White created the original menu, Patrick Fegan helped tailor the Scottsdale location’s menu for local tastes and will run the day-to-day operations. He worked for Robert McGrath at Windows on the Green at The Phoenician resort and did a four-year stint as chef de cuisine and executive chef at Michael’s at the Citadel in Scottsdale.
Fegan said Fiamma’s success rests with its philosophy of not "hiding" the food.
"We’re concentrating on three main flavors on the plate," he said, "and letting the products we procure speak for themselves. It sounds simple, but if one ingredient is off, you’ve lost the dish."
Hours: Dinner 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; also open for breakfast and lunch
Where: The James Hotel, 7353 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale
Information: (480) 308-1111