Space Case: Rancho Pinot

Nikki BuchananMarch 27, 2020
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Photo by Rob Ballard
Photo by Rob Ballard

Named for chef-owner Chrysa Robertson’s favorite wine – and to honor Arizona’s ranching history – Rancho Pinot captures Old Arizona with more lived-in authenticity than any restaurant in town. All that badass cowboy stuff comes naturally for a woman who lives in an 80-year-old adobe, tends chickens, rides horses, hikes the state, cooks over mesquite and arguably makes the best pies in town. She and ex-husband Tom Kaufman opened the restaurant in the Town & Country shopping center in 1993, moving to their present location in Scottsdale just nine months later. The place was an instant success for good reason. Robertson had worked for two of Arizona’s culinary dynamos (Carol Steele of C. Steele, Scottsdale’s first gourmet food shop; and Donna Nordin, nationally acclaimed for her Southwestern cuisine at Café Terra Cotta in Tucson) before fine-tuning her culinary chops with L.A. legend Nancy Silverton at Campanile. Robertson’s greatest skill? Making it all look effortless.

1 Cowboy stuff

Michael Collier of Collier Gallery “collects cowboy crap,” Robertson says. He also curated her stunning collection of Western art and memorabilia, including works by seminal cowboy artists Lon Megargee and Till Goodan, a framed series of old bandannas and an illustrated list of old Arizona cattle ranches.

2 Glass Block

Robertson’s brother Brian (of Robertson Glass Block) added glass block everywhere – front windows, bar and kitchen wall – while her brother Kent essentially “built the restaurant,” using reclaimed Douglas fir wood from a burned library to build the bar top, the wine cellar and the rustic service tables.

3 Desert dÉcor

An old saguaro skeleton, found in Tucson days before Rancho opened, serves to disguise a weight-bearing pole. Overhead, a desert scene designed for a tablecloth in the ’50s by a couple from Arivaca has been transposed onto the big round lampshades that glow from the ceiling.

4 tchotchke cabinet

A red curio cabinet dubbed The Shrine began 24 years ago as a cheeky homage to Elvis. It now includes football memorabilia, religion-bashing tchotchkes (Robertson is an avowed atheist) and political collectibles – all given to Robertson as gifts.

5 nonni portrait

Robertson’s maternal grandmother – Lucia Bortolotti, depicted in this sepia-toned photo – is the patron saint of Rancho, where her legendary Sunday dinners are immortalized with a once-a-week entrée Robertson calls Nonni’s Sunday Chicken.

Rancho Pinot

6208 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
480-367-8030, ranchopinot.com

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