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Tue, Oct. 22

Chew on This: Papa's Italian Restaurant romantic, family friendly

Papa’s Calamari Sicilian-style dish.<br> 
Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Papa’s Calamari Sicilian-style dish.<br> Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier

Old world hospitality can be a rare find these days, which could explain the many high ratings for Papa's Italian Restaurant on Trip Advisor, Yelp and elsewhere.

The family friendly dinner house, found at 129 ½ N. Cortez Street, was recently voted Prescott's Best Family Restaurant in the local Best of the Best poll. On top of that, the restaurant was also voted in the same poll Best Romantic Restaurant and Best Wait Staff.

The restaurant's website, www.papasitalian, offers a complete menu, as well as a short video on the locally owned and operated business. For reservations, call 928-776-4880.

Owners Andrea Barattini, her husband Gregory Swigut, and Barattini's mother Donna Bobadilla, bought the restaurant from its original owners seven years ago. Two years ago, they moved the restaurant to Cortez Street from its prior location on White Spar Road.

"Papa's has been a local establishment for well over 20 years," Barattini said. "It's well known in the community. Our portions are ample. We don't want you to leave hungry."

The move, she said, was a case of being in the right place at the right time.

"It ended up being a real blessing," Barattini said. "Everything is made from scratch. These are truly homemade recipes from grandma - from the chicken cutlets, to the minestrone soup, to the tiramisu, to the meatballs."

Even the structure of the Cortez Street building, formerly home to the Head Hotel, is reminiscent of an Auburn, New York, bar owned by Barattini's great-grandfather, Rocko Benedetto.

Happy hour pricing, from the bar and the menu, is also offered five nights a week from 4-5:30 p.m.

"We have a fantastic staff. They are like a family. We have staff that has been with the restaurant for 20 years. That means a lot," Barattini said.

The menu

Many of the restaurant's recipes hail from "Grandma (Concetta) Benedetto" and remain a closely guarded family secret.

"We bought Papa's seven years ago, but we changed all the recipes to my grandmother's," Bobadilla said. "This restaurant is a tribute to the traditions of yesterday, to my grandmother's recipes, and it's all made with love. Our restaurant would make grandma proud."

Customer favorites at Papa's include the traditional baked meat lasagna, the fettuccine Alfredo, the calamari appetizer, meatballs and the Shrimp Fra Diavolo, made with tender shrimp tossed in Papa's spicy tomato sauce and served over a choice of pasta.

Pizzas also are offered at Papa's Italian Restaurant and are made from a traditional brick oven. "We've got the best pizzas in town," Bobadilla said. "My son-in-law makes the dough every morning. You can create any kind of combination you want and we have a signature stuffed pizza, which is very popular."

Another popular menu item is the soups. "How I was brought up, with hospitality, is when people came into my home, I offered something. My grandmother always did it and I've carried it through with the restaurant, where I go to each table and welcome them, and bring them a soup sample," Bobadilla said. "We're sharing our traditions and who we are."

Other menu options include specialty pizzas, calzones, priazzo pie, a variety of pastas, ravioli dishes, manicotti, linguini in clam sauce, Zucchini Roma, Chicken Parmigiana, Eggplant Parmigiana, Pompeii Market Salad, Antipasto and a variety of dessert choices.

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