While the North Valley certainly doesn’t lack Italian joints, few offer as much charm and relaxation potential as Isabella’s Kitchen.
Positioned across the street from the main entrance to Grayhawk Golf Club, just west of Pima Road on Thompson Peak Parkway, the restaurant takes full advantage of its sweeping desert views and prime location on the Talon golf course.
A refreshing look and layout incorporates a variety of conversational features and one of the most picturesque restaurant patios north of Shea Boulevard. It’s not surprising that Isabella’s Kitchen has been generating attention since it opened in October 2012.
First off, you might not immediately realize that the building’s a restaurant if you’re just passing by. At a brief glance, especially if you’re not familiar with the area, you might disregard it as just part of another ubiquitous Scottsdale golf club.
Technically, it is part of a golf club. In fact, it joins three other dining options that include Quill Creek Café, Phil’s Grill, and The Morning Joint at the public Grayhawk Golf Club.
Thankfully, Isabella’s Kitchen is physically detached from those three, which allows for a charming and unique restaurant design that far outshines the boring, “golf clubby” feel you’ll get at its sister eateries across the street.
The Ambience & Décor
Isabella’s Kitchen exudes charm without trying too hard. Reminiscent of an Italian country bistro, the interior features wood floors and millwork with rusted steel detailing. Other interesting touches include a custom chandelier made of wine bottles hanging from the ceiling and a wall covered with the sides of wine crates.
The foyer offers enough elbow room from which to check out what’s going on at the usually bustling bar. It also affords a view of the beautiful scenery beyond the large garage-style doors. The frequently open windows offer diners a picturesque vista framed by Mummy and Camelback mountains.
The outdoor terraces and courtyards are where Isabella’s really shines. Of particular note are the two large fire pits surrounded by comfortable seating. Particularly quaint are the outdoor rocking chairs that are perfect for an evening respite watching the sunset.
We have spent a number of evenings on Isabella’s idyllic patio playing gin rummy while enjoying a glass of Albarino and a meat and cheese board after a late afternoon yoga class. FYI––you won’t feel out of place dining here in golf and yoga attire.
During roughly 10 visits to Isabella’s over the past year, the service has been consistently inconsistent. Sometimes it’s decent — water glasses and orders filled promptly. Other times it’s as if patrons were an afterthought.
The staff tends toward the younger side, and it’s rare to see a familiar face, so the uneven service probably comes down to inexperience and high turnover. Then again, you might not notice while taking in the lovely view.
We really want to love the food at Isabella’s Kitchen, but we can’t muster the same adoration as we do for the view. Most of it falls under the heading of “so-so.”
The standout dish remains the Deb’s Pasta ($16), which consists of handout spaghetti, grilled chicken, tomatoes, and parmesan. You might have to order two, it’s that good.
You also can’t got wrong with the meat and cheese board ($15). Featuring house-made mustard, pickled beets, rosemary olives, blue cheese crumbles, pickled grapes, Brie, Italian meats, and grilled multigrain bread, it’s a regular winner.
As you’d expect, there’s an assortment of white and red wines, beers, and mixed drinks, including a delightful blueberry moonshine lemonade ($9.50). But if you plan to swing by for happy hour, prepare for disappointment. Isabelle’s doesn’t offer a happy hour. Boo!
Where: 8623 E. Thompson Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale, AZ
Phone: (480) 502-3100
– Sondra Barr, Phoenix.org