En garde! Our dueling diners love each other when they’re not reviewing restaurants, but when the meal comes, their flaws are totally game
When Andrew and I sat down for a meal at EVO in Old Town Scottsdale, making our way to their dim-but-warm dining room that was lit by candlelight, I knew what kind of night it was gonna be. We were going to get it on.
Ack, not that way. We had already set up the premise for our first Dueling Diners review. It was an open sphere to make fun
of each other’s eating habits, and I already knew which of mine would be on the table.
When we took a look at the appetizers, I was fully aware which one would please Andrew’s basic, childlike taste buds. A carb-and-meat man through and through, my lovely boyfriend went straight for the polpettina, which is a fancy word for EVO’s homemade meatballs with garlic bread and tomato sauce.
I ordered the bruschetta of the day, which included baby kale, pork, marinated peppers and more. When you think of kale you think bitter, and well, gross, but the lightly sautéed EVO version was mild. Paired with the buttery, melt-in-your mouth pork, this bruschetta was heaven.
But I have to hand it to Andrew. The unbelievably tender meatballs didn’t require a single chew, were flavored to perfection while the tomato sauce that accompanied it was beyond flavorful.
Andy wins this round, except not in table manners. I accidentally dropped a glob of tomato sauce on the table and placed it back on the plate when we were—I thought—done. Instead, Andrew popped that dirty last morsel right into his mouth, despite my warning.
I often wonder if we’re really that different from wild animals. I’m also around Andrew often, so take that as you may.
When it came to entrees, I was the clear winner, but Andrew’s fettuccini alfredo put up a good fight. Marinated chicken added a ton of moisture to the traditionally dry, heavy dish. But this fettuccini wasn’t thick with a pasty sauce at all. In fact, I’d liken it more to a thick broth, packed with yummy coating on every bite.
I have expensive taste, so I ordered the surf and turf with braised pork temple, diver scallops, polenta and baby corn. The plate was arranged like something you’d see on the Food Network, except instead of just eating with my eyes, I got to actually, well… eat! Every little bit was a burst of flavor, from the perfectly seared scallops to the fall-apart pork, from the sweet baby corn to the complex polenta. This was the sort of “small” portion your sports bar diner might make fun of, but I left fully—and I mean fully—satisfied.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t have room for dessert, though. The chocolate torte with marshmallow cream, orange and almond was the perfect end to our meal. While the frozen raspberries shocked me, the dense, lightly salted chocolate torte was expertly combined with two exotic sauces that elevated it from your run- of-the-mill chocolate dish.
We were sat just underneath a dangling chandelier among the modern but romantic décor. As I looked into Christina’s eyes from across the table, I had only one thing on my mind. Meatballs.
To be fair, when I am not actively thinking about something the default thought in my mind is usually one of meatballs—deliciously seasoned balls of meat or spherical ground wads of animal. Lucky for me, EVO was ready to satisfy.
Having already decided my appetizer, I grew impatient as I watched Christina’s meatballs—I mean eyes—darting across the menu. She decided on the pork and kale brushetta like a total amateur. “She must have missed the meatballs,” I thought to myself.
Now I may not have the most dialed-in palate, but score one for ‘ol Andrew in the appetizer round. The bruschetta was a delicious hodgepodge of pork, peppers and kale. Each new flavor created a very layered and well-thought-out dish. However, the meatballs were meatballs.
The polpettina, as EVO calls them, were so good that I considered driving to my mother’s house and forbidding her from ever making her meatball recipe again, as they would be an insult to the higher plane of existence that is EVO’s polpettina. “Stop crying,” I’d say as I stuffed a few of EVOs meatballs into her mouth. And then she, too, would understand.
Next came our entrées. I ordered the fettuccini alfredo, which is basically a trick to make everyone around you think you are a grownup while still getting to eat mac and cheese. I’ve had more than a few fettucini alfredos in my time, and in my experience, when you order it with chicken, that usually means they’re going to drop some sad, dry, lifeless grilled or blackened white meat on top of the plate and call it day. In this case, the protein was not an afterthought. The chicken was moist, flavorful and even light.
I will give the edge to Christina on entrée choices. Her selection of pork and scallop surf and turf was so good that she uncontrollably consumed it, leaving an enormous mess on her side of the table. Then again, that is always how she eats. I often say that a meal with Christina isn’t over until there’s more food in her hair than on the plate. In this case, I almost went food-in-hair nuts over her dish too. The braised pork was fantastic, tender and sweet.
Finally we agreed to complete the meal with the marshmallow chocolate torte. I am certain Christina saw the item on the menu and thought, “I’ll bet the raspberry will play great with the richness of the chocolate.” I saw the item on the menu and thought, “Oh dang, I’m about to eat some s’mores.” Now that’s not a very accurate description of the dish, but let’s be fair to me, I’m bad at this reviewing thing.
￼EVO, 4175 N. Goldwater Boulevard, Scottsdale, 480.265.9814, evoscottsdale.com