To get the most out of Amy’s Baking Company, a charming French-Italian bistro in Scottsdale, head straight for the bake case. Bring a date, or a couple of friends, who will want to share French-press coffee ($6 for about two cups) and a giant slice of Italian white-chocolate cake with raspberries ($12), or any of the other superb desserts whose selection is ever-changing. Tarts, towering cakes and other confections (some of which are dusted with gold glitter) are made daily by Amy Bouzaglo, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband. Despite Amy’s location in a strip mall, the owners have created a place to linger, on the patio or inside, where the black-and-white harlequin floors, black chandeliers and ornate, gilded mirrors give off a European vibe (assuming you can ignore the view of a parking lot and neon-rimmed movie posters at the nearby theater). Dessert is really what Amy’s does best. But, if you can swallow the sticker shock, there are sandwiches, salads and pasta that you can enjoy for a complete meal. Keep the tab manageable by ordering salads in half portions ($10) or sharing the sandwiches ($16-$17) and pastas ($16-$22) with your dinner partner.
But without a view of the Eiffel Tower, you might wonder, what exactly am I paying for? The bake case is full of shareable options, but a few shareable starters are on the menu. One of them, an artisan tart ($15), is a puff pastry filled with an overly sweet mix of figs, zucca, apples, walnuts and pears, then topped with two slices of Brie and a few spoonfuls of jam. It’s essentially a super-fancy toaster strudel, and the flavors aren’t right for an appetizer. French onion soup ($10) and the half-portion salads are other ways to start your dinner. A salad standout is the Rossa ($16 full portion), with goat cheese, roasted beets, sugared pecans and honey-citrus dressing tossed with what appears to be an entire bag of baby greens that you’d buy at the supermarket. Amy’s achieves salad success by not scrimping on the toppings. In the Rossa, you’ll find colossal chunks of goat cheese. Inexplicably, an Asian chicken salad ($16) has scored a spot on the menu, a departure from the likes of Caprese and caramelized pear salads, $16 each. Scanning the list of sandwiches, you’ll have a tough time remembering the last time you paid $17 for one anywhere. But that’s the asking price for the croque monsieur, a classic French sandwich of ham and Gruyere cheese, toasted and served with a Mornay sauce. There’s a theme running through the pasta selections on the menu: cream sauce. The butternut squash ravioli ($17) are filled with a velvety, slightly sweet mix of squash and mascarpone cheese. Some will find the rich cream sauce, with chunks of squash, too thick for the otherwise delicate dish. The pasta rustica ($17) is a lighter and wonderfully spicy choice, with penne, chicken and andouille sausage in a red-pepper marmalade and white-wine reduction. But if you’re deciding how to best spend your calories and money at Amy’s, dessert is the way to go.