Picazzo’s Goals for Health-Centered Italian Cuisine | Food and drinks

As COVID-19 restrictions ease, Picazzo’s healthy Italian cuisine offers a solution for those looking to shed those lingering “quarantine 15” pounds.

Picazzo’s, located at 7325 Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard, is an Arizona-based, health-focused family restaurant offering a menu of salads, entrees, pastas and pizzas. The restaurant fuses modern Italian cuisine with bold flavors of Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican ingredients.

Boasting additional locations in Sedona, Tempe, Gilbert, Paradise Valley and Arrowhead, Picazzo’s serves 90-95% organic produce. It provides nutrient-dense whole foods for the so-called “healthy” – including gluten-free diners.

Picazzo chief operating officer Chris Disney said business at the restaurant boomed after the pandemic began, despite supply shortages facing businesses across the country.

“It’s great as far as business goes,” Disney told Airpark News. “After the pandemic, people who probably sat at home and did takeout and just kind of comfort and stress eating – I think (they) are trying to catch up on fashions again healthier lives.”

Cue Picazzo.

Italian cuisine prides itself on its gluten-free and vegan menus.

Picazzo sources NAE (No Antibiotics Ever), hormone-free, American Humane certified chicken wings and breast, according to its website. It also offers nitrate/nitrite-free meats, such as its sausage from green-certified company Polidori.

All sauces and dressings are made from scratch with organic spices and non-GMO imported sunflower and olive oils, the Picazzo site continues. Customers can opt for dishes like lasagna bolognese ($18), sustainable salmon picatta ($27) or original hand-stretched meat pizza ($22).

A separate vegan menu features salads, entrees, pastas, pizzas and desserts using brands that support the plant-based diet, such as Follow Your Heart, Daiya and Beyond Meat.

“We have the vegan menu and offer many vegan products that I think just make the transition (to a healthier lifestyle) easier,” Disney says. “Our products are 95% organic, which is quite rare. Ingredients are really important.

Rick Freedman founded Picazzo’s in Sedona in 2002 when he saw the need for a nice pizza place in the growing area. In 2004, the restaurant expanded to the Valley and opened its Scottsdale Airpark location.

The company has reassessed what makes it unique against its new market saturated with competitors. The company built on its already popular gluten-free pizza crust when it opened its Paradise Valley location in 2008.

The move to full Italian options was Picazzo’s turning point. It was the first to offer a full menu of gluten-free options so people could choose dishes traditionally filled with gluten without fear.

As it increasingly appealed to gluten-free customers, Picazzo’s saw an opening to provide options for other types of dietary restrictions, including soy, GMOs, corn, dairy and veganism.

Despite the economic hardship caused by COVID-19, Disney says Picazzo continues to evolve. The restaurant has battled supply shortages, but is stepping up efforts to continue expanding its already long list of vegan and health-conscious menu offerings.

“There are definitely challenges on the operations side — but everything under the sun has an exit and that’s something not everyone understands,” Disney says, noting that the restaurant is facing paper shortages. Picazzo strives to use eco-friendly packaging, a harder-to-find luxury, he says.

The menu isn’t the only thing changing either.

The Picazzo location in Scottsdale is being renovated to update its signage, according to Disney. Comfortable booth seating, providing an inviting atmosphere, is integrated into the interior, along with touches of greenery via new snake plants.

Daring Plant Chicken, a 100% plant-based product free of animal hormones, animal antibiotics, and saturated fats, is also on the menu for those looking to satisfy their chicken cravings guilt-free.

“I would say that for a lot of Picazzo articles, we literally dive into the turmoil and into the products. We read the labels,” says Disney. “We do this for people who are trying to be gluten-free or moving in that direction.”

For more information on Picazzo’s healthy Italian cuisine, or to order online, visit picazzos.com.

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