When I went to Italy on a class art trip at 16, I turned my nose up at our nightly four course dinners. I know, I know: poor little girl getting to travel abroad and try new cuisines. But I suppose my palate just wasn't refined enough then, what with all that hormonal brattiness clouding my tongue. Plus it all seemed so overwhelming: bread followed by salad followed by pasta followed by meat followed by dessert. Too much.
Older and wiser, I can now get behind the excess every now and again. At Fat OX, Scottsdale's latest upscale Italian eatery, I got to relive the jubilant surplus that is a multi-course Italian dinner. But this time, I liked it.
The Welcome Hospitality crew has for three years worked to build restaurants with reputations that live up to their name. With both Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts in central Phoenix proven successes around town (PHOENIX named the latter a Best New Restaurant last year), the brand turned its eyes to the south. So what happens when a Phoenix foodie favorite meets a recently UNESCO-designated World City of Gastronomy? A whole lot of yum.
Fans of Bobby-Q in Phoenix will find some familiar flavors at the new East Valley outpost – wood-fired steaks, saucy St. Louis-style ribs, and the cheesiest, most gooey mac and cheese around (made with five different cheeses). The menus at the venues are the same, but the new Bobby-Q -- which opened to the public on October 3 -- has some fresh amenities, too.
The Feel: Like sitting in a really cool collage of Americana. Restaurateur Bob Sikora has a big personality and favors several seemingly disparate design elements that somehow comfortably come together. He’s big on lighting, and before the new restaurant opened, he sat in every single seat and booth to check the spot’s luminousness. There’s soft blue lighting under the bar and around the bar racks. He also loves big, leafy green indoor plants, and they hang around and over various parts of the massive restaurant, along with too many flat-screen TVs to count, custom-made sconces with bent silverware sculpture bases, and old timey light fixtures. The social lounge features gorgeous handcrafted juniper tables inlaid with turquoise and copper, custom leather chairs and sofas, and antique steel mirrors. Brick and wood abound. A DJ turns the lounge into a disco dance hall late at night, but during the day, classic rock rules the restaurant speakers.
There’s a new chef in the kitchen at Market Street. After honing his culinary skills in Chicago at the original Weber Grill and the Four Seasons (and following Phoenix stints in the kitchens of Sam Fox’s Bloom Restaurant and Roy’s at the J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge), Michael Hunn took the helm of Market Street Kitchen last month. The Chi-town native nudges the restaurant’s rustic American cuisine (pastas, soups, salads, slow-cooked and wood-fired meats) up a notch with his focus on farm-to-table fare; according to a press release, “Chef Hunn’s favorite part of each day is talking shop with his fishmongers, produce farmers and his meat dude.”
Every chef should have a “meat dude.” And if the thick and smoky bacon in my grilled cheese sandwich was any indication, Hunn’s got a pretty keen one.
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