Mora Italian: Convivial Dining Destination

by Scott Conant

 Power lunch moves to evening …

One of the cornerstones of my career has been the belief that a table surrounded by good friends and a spread of soulful food makes for a great gathering. This, along with the desire to bring elevated Italian cuisine to the Valley, was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Mora Italian in Phoenix. 

Mora is a modern osteria with a contemporary design inspired by the neighborhood eateries found throughout Italy, intentionally blending a stylish and tailored aesthetic with a relaxed setting focused on communal dining. The restaurant has an expansive dining room, beautiful bar and street-side patio for al fresco dining — creating a dynamic environment to catch up with friends and family.

We approach Italian cooking thoughtfully by reimagining classics such as rich polenta with mixed mushrooms and truffle while introducing innovative dishes like black campanelle pasta with clams, calamari, marinated shrimp and basil breadcrumbs. 

Throughout the pandemic, we have pared down the menu due to supply chain issues that are affecting every industry right now — which, in turn, has allowed us to showcase the most-loved dishes at Mora. This time has given us the opportunity to be creative and revamp our offerings. One of our new programs is Giro d’Mora, or “Tour of Mora” in Italian, a friends-style tasting menu that’s meant to be shared by the whole table. The five-course meal features our greatest hits, including the seared octopus, pasta trio and, of course, an incredible dessert like bomboloni. People can experience Mora in a new way, and since the menu is on a seasonal rotation, there’s always a new item to indulge in. There’s something festive about discovering a dish and passing it along to someone else at the table to taste and sharing that same experience. 

Beyond convivial dining, our first-ever happy hour program was recently launched as another way to reconnect with friends in a vibrant atmosphere, including all-day happy hour on Sundays. We also started an over-the-top dessert program called “Sundae Fundae” — a table-side dessert cart that rolls though the restaurant and comes with every topping and candy imaginable so patrons can customize their own sundae. Kids obviously love it, but it’s been great to see how much it resonates with adults as well. After an exceptionally challenging last year and a half, I think we’re all in need of some childhood nostalgia, and this has been a lighthearted way to provide that to patrons while encouraging them to make new memories alongside their children. 

At our core, that’s precisely what Mora is all about — meals and memories. Our goal is for guests to leave happier than they were when they arrived. Food has a unique ability to connect us; what we do remarkably well at Mora is setting the tone for that with generous hospitality and crave-able Italian cooking. 

Mora Italian
5651 N. 7th Street, Phoenix
(602) 795-9943
Open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Focusing on the foods Chef Conant grew up with and the ones he makes for his loved ones today, recently released “Peace, Love, and Pasta” compiles simple, fresh and flavorful Italian recipes for the home cook to bring to their own family’s table in his most personal cookbook yet.

Pasta al Pomodoro
Chef Conant’s signature dish: spaghetti, Pomodoro sauce, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Seared Diver Scallops
Salt-baked sunchoke, charred radish and currants with caper-pignoli vinaigrette

Margherita Pizza
Fior di latte, tomato, basil and burrata

Scott Conant is the chef and owner of Mora Italian in Phoenix, The Americano in Scottsdale and Cellaio in the Catskills of upstate New York. The James Beard Award-Winning chef and TV personality is a longtime judge on Food Network’s “Chopped” and frequent cohost on “Beat Bobby Flay.” 


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