Dominick’s Real Italian opened in June, 2014 in a strip mall in northwest Tucson and has quietly become the little secret with big flavors. Tucked in between a UPS Store and a Karate Studio, Dominick’s Real Italian is like a slice of old Italy set in the backdrop of the Tortolita Mountains.
The intimate trattoria is unassuming and does brisk business not only in the restaurant but also through carryout and delivery. The news and reviews for the neighborhood restaurant have been outstanding so I decided to give the place a shot with some out of town friends.
I walked in with 3 others and quickly found a booth along the east wall. We were greeted promptly and the server struck up a conversation with us as if he were welcoming friends into his own home.
He explained the menu and offered wine, beer and appetizers. We ordered a bottle of cabernet and eight-piece bruschetta. Within minutes, we had four glasses of water, our bottle of wine and a basket of complimentary garlic knots.
The knots were twisty slices of heaven and incredibly addictive while the bruschetta was near perfection with plump, juicy tomatoes, fresh basil and drizzled with oil and vinegar on lightly toasted crostini. The breadth of the menu spanned everything from salads to seafood and pasta dishes.
I asked everybody to order something different so that I could get a good sampling of the menu. My wife ordered the Shrimp Fra Diavolo while I ventured into tying the Chicken Scarpiello. Our guest had the lasagna and a meat-lovers pizza.
Our pasta dishes came with our choice of pasta, which was odd to me, but I liked having the choice so I went with linguine and my wife chose the thinner spaghettini. The meals also came with a soup or salad included—I could tell this was going to be a challenge to taste everything and still leave room for their homemade desserts.
The chicken was amazing with a nice sear, the sausage was crisp and the sauce was the winner. A scratch-made white wine butter sauce with generous spices made this plate a winner. The shrimp dish was on point with a spicy marinara that perfectly complemented the plump gulf shrimp.
The server recommended the lasagna and said it was the best that he has ever had and although my guests wanted the pizza, they just had to try the lasagna to see where it ranked in their ‘best ever’ rankings. One word—amazing. It was evident, once again, the difference that fresh, scratch-made cooking makes in this old world Italian eatery. The hand-stretched pizza came out piled with pepperoni, Italian sausage, meatballs, Canadian bacon and capicola. The sauce was powerful, the cheese was rich and the crust was the perfect blend of crunch and cushion.
After sampling the feast fit for Roman gods and royalty, then came the tiramisu—game over. I tracked down the owner and spoke with her a bit to find out a little bit more about Dominick’s. Lyndsey Fisher named the place after her grandfather as she was looking to create an old school Italian vibe and he was the epitome of old school Italian charm in her mind.
When asked about Dominick’s identity, she said that there were no standard regional influences other than they specialized in pasta dishes and seafood. In the kitchen, Fisher has experts in Bryan Benton who came over from Tohono Chul Park perfecting the dishes and master pizzaiolo Jon Harrington from Grimaldi’s fame dishing up the glorious pies.
“We are truly a family-owned, neighborhood restaurant,” Fisher said. “We make real Italian food in the old school, traditional way with recipes passed down through generations.”
If you are up in the northwest part of Tucson and love Italian food, head to Dominick’s and find out for yourself why this eatery is called “real Italian.”
Address: 8330 N. Thornydale Rd.
Phone: (520) 744-2002
Open: 11am-9pm daily