Local Foodie News

Leah LeMoineSeptember 29, 2021
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The Sicilian Baker Halloween cannoli | Photo courtesy The Maggiore Group

All the news that’s fit to nosh. 

Autumnal Abundance: It’s fall, y’all! And with this past weekend’s cooler temps, that’s starting to feel real and not just like a cruel calendar joke. Embrace the transition with seasonal specials from The Sicilian Baker including pumpkin pie cannoli with pumpkin-infused sweet ricotta filling (order as a special: large shell dipped in chocolate and decorated with edible pumpkins; available October 15-November 30) and the Halloween cannoli, a large cannoli shell stuffed with pumpkin-flavored cream filling and decorated with a pumpkin face and cotton candy (available October 28-31). 

 New Restaurants on the Block: Itching to try something new? Add these to your to-dine list:

  • Ling’s Wok Shop: If you love Ling & Louie’s Asian Bar and Grill, you’ll love its kid sister, a new fast-casual concept at the corner of Thompson Peak Parkway and Hayden Road in Scottsdale. The menu will emphasize healthy pan-Asian dishes like seafood hot pot, Szechwan sea bass, lettuce wraps, salads, soups and stir-fries. Guests can choose between counter service and full-service dining. Hand-crafted cocktails, wine and local beer round out the offerings. 
  • Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant: Chandler Fashion Center this week welcomed the second Arizona location of the Illinois-based chain, which is modeled on Napa Valley wineries. It joins the Scottsdale outpost, which opened in December 2020. Diners can enjoy sommelier-led wine tastings and an extensive menu that includes such diverse dishes as Parmesan-crusted shrimp scampi and soy-ginger Atlantic salmon. Each dish on the menu boasts a personalized wine pairing.
  • Pronto: The Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants offshoot isn’t open yet, but you can get a sneak preview of the menu with a “Taste of Pronto” through the end of September at the beloved local chain’s four locations. Try the Pronto Bowl (crispy tortilla shell with protein, rice, beans and fresh toppings), the Mangonada Margarita and dessert nachos. The Tempe restaurant will offer counter service at a lower price point than Serrano’s.   

The Brunch Beat: This week’s brunch news comes from STK Steakhouse in Scottsdale, which recently debuted its Glitz & Glam Brunch. On Sundays from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., diners can enjoy bottomless brunch cocktails and live entertainment including musicians (think violinists, saxophonists, etc.) and a DJ. 

Party at the Wigwam: The Wigwam resort has a couple of fun specials on deck for October: 

  • Pinktober: The historical Litchfield Park resort will donate $5 for every stay that is booked under the resident rate (fall staycation, anyone?) to Arizona Assistance in Healthcare, a nonprofit that helps cancer patients with the costs of their treatments. Additionally, it will donate 50 percent of proceeds for every featured pink cocktail ordered at The Wigwam Bar, Litchfield’s and Red’s Bar & Grill. Charitable tipples include pink moscato lemonade, Smell the Rose and Sugar Bomb.
  • Oktoberfest: Raise your stein and say “Prost!” on October 2, when the resort will host a German-inspired family feast with live music, a DJ, food trucks and games. Dress up for the costume contest and leave with a commemorative Oktoberfest glass. Tickets begin at $90 for 21-and-older VIP tables and $15 for general admission.

Eligible Menus: New season, new menus at some of your favorite Valley restaurants. To wit: 

  • Mix Up Bar: The dark, romantic bar abutting T. Cook’s at the iconic Royal Palms Resort and Spa has a new lineup of bar noshes and cocktails. I’m psyched for the new seafood offering of four poached shrimp and four poached crab claws ($32), the T. Cook’s burger ($19) and the T. Cook’s muffaletta ($19), which has an intriguing addition to the classic New Orleans sandwich: creamy burrata. On the drinks side, I’m curious about the Marie Antoinette (gin, honeysuckle liqueur, Prosecco and lemon, $15) and the Avion de Mezcal (mezcal, Aperol, amaro and lemon, $15). Maybe I’ll have to update my happy hour write-up. 
  • Tarbell’s: For a limited time, pop into the bar at this contemporary American favorite for two special offerings: a three-course vegan dinner and a Test Kitchen menu of small plates and weekly cocktails. The options for both change weekly, so your vegan menu might include beet nigiri one week and crispy avocado with vegan chorizo the next. Similarly, Test Kitchen dishes can range from scallop crudo to crispy Maine lobster. Prices vary, and these menus are available Monday through Saturday from 4-5:30 p.m. in the bar area.  
  • The Sicilian Butcher: Come for the craft meatballs and charcuterie, stay for the molto Italiano new dishes that reference many regions of that delicious boot. I’m most excited for the Streets of Palermo Tower (a Sicilian family platter stacked with arancini, cazilli, fritto misto, caponata and garlic bread, $13/person), the Prosciutto Di Parma Neapolitan pizza ($17), the 10-layer lasagna (mamma mia, get in my belly) and craft cocktails like the tropical Italiantiki (Varnelli punch, Carpano bitters, passionfruit, lime, pineapple and tiki bitters, $12).

Kind of Blue: The Valley’s longest-running jazz jam will return from its pandemic hiatus this October for a bittersweet event. On October 14, Valley singers and musicians will convene for a celebration of life show to honor guitarist Pete Gitlin, who died in May. Gitlin hosted the Thursday night jam session at the Chandler location of Pita Jungle for 20 years, welcoming everyone from high school musicians playing in front of an audience for the first time to seasoned jazz professionals. The event, which will take place from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Chandler location, will benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Desert Region. Guests can make donations in Gitlin’s name at the show or at give.lls.org. To honor its longtime friend and musical mainstay, Pita Jungle will donate 10 percent of the dining proceeds from that night to the local chapter of the nonprofit.   

$aving$: Watching the old budget? Who isn’t? I’m going to start corralling sweet deals at the bottom of these roundups to help you $ave. 

  • Press Coffee: Celebrate National Coffee Day this Wednesday, September 29, at the Valley’s most successful local coffee chain. Press will be giving out free single-serve pouch coffee bags with any purchase at each of its eight locations.   
  • U.S. Egg: Not to be outdone, this Valley breakfast chain will offer a “BOGO” special on coffee for National Coffee Day – buy one 12-ounce bag of beans for $10, get a second bag for free. 
  • STK Steakhouse: Make Monday a fun day by capping it with bountiful bubbles at STK. The steakhouse hosts “Magnum Mondays” with specially priced magnums of wine and Champagne and a DJ from 7 p.m.-close. 

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