A family, upscale yet casual vibe, and the use of local food.

Usually this is a combination of themes not seen in just one restaurant, but seven months after its inception, Le Ragazze Italian Grill and Lounge has received much support from restaurant go-ers in Ahwatukee Foothills.

Owners and brothers, Kris and Scott Robison, said their first endeavor branched from a passion for organic and local food, a message that seems to be taking hold slowly but surely.

The menu, described by Scott as being inspired by cuisines in Northern Italy, uses foods from Queen Creek Olive Oil, Four Peaks Brewery, Florence Farms Produce and others, including a small farm in the White Tank Mountains.

An upscale, casual service, with a certain intimacy that doesn't exclude children accompanies the restaurant's main focus of local support.

The interior, decorated by Scott's wife, is dimly lit with lush shades of ivory, brown and wine.

A quaint patio outdoors is tucked around the corner of the main entrance.

"(We) felt the area was really missing something with intimacy," said Scott, 41, after he took a quick break from chopping onions at the restaurant one afternoon.

During the first four months of opening, Kris said they had placed maybe one advertisement and did not even have a sign visible from the street.

"It has all been word-of-mouth, the area is really supportive," said Kris, 31.

"We want people to participate in what we do and believe in."

Turning Le Ragazze into a chain is not a goal.

"The food scene in Phoenix has really turned," Scott said.

Kris said they looked at what was happening in the industry when putting the place together.

Their happy hour, self-pronounced as "the best in the market," offers fresh-squeezed margaritas, beers and a selection of savory small plates, among others.

"For four or five bucks you can get a pretty good end to your day," Scott said.

Kris and Scott's goals for Le Ragazze are to continue to stay relevant in the fresh, organic and sustainable food practice.

The two, originally from Tucson, also want feedback in ways to improve, and also learn the catering needs of Ahwatukee residents.

"We would like to be here," said Scott, "In these uncertain times, that's important."

Kris said providing local food is a struggle at times, with how much the desert of ours can provide during each season and so forth.

With the challenges they face, they want to educate their customers of the importance of local food.

"(Supporting local food) is one of the most important things. We continue to strive and do more of it," Scott said.

Le Ragazze, 1334 E. Chandler Blvd., is open six days a week starting Tuesday through Friday, from 4 p.m. to last call; Friday through Saturday, 3 p.m. to last call; and Sundays from noon to last call.

For more information, call (480) 460-0013.


• Diana Martinez is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a junior at Arizona State University.



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