Phoenix Pizza Festival | Photo courtesy Flargus
All the news that’s fit to nosh.
Pizza Party: The Phoenix Pizza Festival is back! To celebrate its sixth year, the fest has grown to include two days: Saturday and Sunday, November 13-14, at Margaret T. Hance Park. Limited tickets are available for $12 each – sold exclusively online – and attendees will be able to sample $2-$4 slices, full pies, drinks and desserts from 15-20 pizza makers, food trucks and vendors. Valley pizza mainstays like La Piazza Al Forno and Floridino’s will hold court with newer pizzaiolos like Freak Brothers Pizza and Bored Baker Pizza Maker.
Chef Moves: Some of the Valley’s most notable chefs have been migrating to new restaurants in recent months. Catch these culinarians at their new spots:
- Dushyant Singh: After stints at Artizen at The Camby and Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails at Hotel Palomar, Dushyant Singh started his own food delivery business, Meatwala PHX, and served as general manager at Fox Restaurant Concepts. Now he’s returning to his resort restaurant roots as the new executive chef at Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen at Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows. I am psyched to see the dishes Singh creates in this new role. I was smitten with his vegetable dishes at Artizen, particularly a roasted carrot dish and a Brussels sprouts Caesar (before everyone else was doing that).
- Kenneth Arneson: Another Valley resort got a new executive chef last month. ADERO Scottsdale welcomed Kenneth Arneson, most recently of the Canopy Hotel by Hilton Tempe Downtown. Arneson will helm the resort’s new culinary program, to be expressed through offerings at its flagship restaurant, CIELO, and its new al fresco dining experience, SkyTop lounge. I’m intrigued by a couple of dishes from CIELO – Sonoran shrimp with polenta, and pistachio cheesecake – and excited for the launch of its brunch program on November 16.
- Nick LaRosa: Chopped winner and longtime Nook Kitchen chef Nick LaRosa is crafting his signature Italian comfort food at a new ristorante. Old Town Scottsdale’s EVO is now home to LaRosa’s innovative Italian fare, showcased in his recently launched fall menu. The fall-spiced Duroc chop with bacon Brussels sprouts, sweet potato mash and roasted apple chutney sounds especially delightful, with a sweet-and-savory tango reminiscent of one of my favorite dishes from his tenure at Nook, an espresso-rubbed filet.
Coffee Klatch: Tarbell’s fans, you can now get your fix earlier in the day. The contemporary American restaurant recently debuted Tarbell’s A.M., a new coffee and light-bites program. On weekdays from 6 a.m.-12 p.m., diners can take their morning coffee from Roastery of Cave Creek in the restaurant or get it to go, along with bagels and bialys from Valley fave New York Bagels ’N Bialys. Pastries include croissants, muffins, scones, danishes and seasonal breads. Does the famed Tarbell’s Cheesecake count as a light bite? A gal can dream.
New Restaurants on the Block: Itching to try something new? Add these to your to-dine list:
- Buddha’s Ritual: Scott and Melissa McIntire – the restaurateur couple behind The Lola in Glendale and The Ainsworth in Downtown Phoenix – will open their third concept later this fall, in partnership with local radio personality “Joey Boy” Rodriguez and entrepreneur Freddy Nguyen. The Asian- and American-inflected eatery will occupy the ground floor of SOHO Scottsdale, a live/work space near WestWorld in North Scottsdale. Expect dishes like ramen, kimchi mac and cheese, and a deconstructed banh mi plate.
- Wren & Wolf: The “all-day café” model that is firmly entrenched in cities like Los Angeles and New York City has finally made its way to Phoenix with a slew of new restaurants opening this year and next. The latest: Wren & Wolf, slated to open this December. It’s the newest concept from the Chico Malo folks and has a star-studded staff including chef Jesus Figueroa (Renata’s Hearth, Café Monarch, Tarbell’s) and cocktail program director Libby Lingua (Highball). Dishes run the gamut from breakfast sandwiches and 100-layer doughnuts to cast-iron steaks and squash ravioli. And plenty of coffee and cocktails, of course.
- Café Allegro: Musical Instrument Museum’s flagship restaurant reopened this week after a pandemic hiatus. To celebrate, executive chef James Moran debuted a new seasonal menu, with highlights including a tepary bean veggie burger, Southwest turkey meatloaf, wild mushroom bisque and an autumn chopped salad with apple, pepitas, bacon and apple cider vinaigrette.
- Thirsty Lion Gastropub: You can jumbo-size your pub experience next December (2022), when this popular chain’s newest outpost will open at Westgate. At 9,800 square feet, it will be the largest Thirsty Lion location in Arizona. The chain has experienced so much growth in Arizona that it relocated its headquarters to Scottsdale this year.
- Chompie’s: Bagel and matzo ball soup devotees in the North Valley can once again rest easy: Chompie’s new North Phoenix location opened this week at 32nd Street and Cactus Road. The “crown jewel” of the local deli empire is currently on “phase one” of its opening, with limited services. It will ramp up to full-service offerings in the next week or so. Look for new sister concept Mokas Roastery, an expanded and upgraded market area, full deli and bakery, patio bar, new cocktail menu, Bloody Mary bar, private dining rooms, expanded keto and gluten-free options, and more.
- Salad and Go: The homegrown healthy-eats chain opened its newest location in Mesa in late October. Located at 10025 E. Southern Ave., it’s part of the company’s rapid expansion plans for this year.
- Mici Handcrafted Italian: Denver-based Mici, a fast-casual concept specializing in Italian food, recently announced its first franchise deal and plans to come to Phoenix. The 30-unit agreement will likely include some delivery- and takeout-only locations, as well as sit-down restaurants. Diners can expect handcrafted pizzas, pastas, salads and gelato.
Sake Toast: Kasai Japanese Steakhouse is honoring its building’s roots with a celebration of its original tenant, Sapporo, this weekend. The clubby teppanyaki joint was a pivotal part of the North Scottsdale culinary and nightlife worlds when it opened in 2001. Kasai’s owners are honoring this heritage with 20 Years of Sapporo offerings, which include opening an hour earlier, gift card giveaways and impressive discounts on appetizers, select sushi rolls, wine, beer, sake and cocktails.
Eligible Men(us): New season, new menus at some of your favorite Valley restaurants. To wit:
- Gabriella’s Contemporary American Cuisine: Personal pizzas lead the new menu at this Scottsdale spot, with varieties including candied bacon with fried egg; short rib with onion jam, pickled shallots and goat cheese; and wild mushroom with shaved Parmesan and preserved lemons. Get into gourd season with butternut squash ravioli with grilled chicken.
- Daily Dose Kitchen & Bar: Five autumnal dishes are back at this beloved eatery, with locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe. Go sweet with pumpkin crunch pancakes, cinnamon churro waffle, pumpkin latte and apple cider mimosas, or go savory with a tangy cranberry club sandwich. All are available through Thanksgiving.
- The Buzz Eatery & Treats: Sip your fall favorites with a pumpkin spice latte (espresso, milk of choice, pumpkin spice syrup, vanilla syrup and honey whipped cream) or a salted caramel macchiato (espresso, salted caramel syrup, vanilla syrup, milk of choice, whipped cream and caramel drizzle) at this Kierland Commons gathering spot.
- North Italia: Things are getting hearty at this modern Italian institution. Fall dishes include beef tenderloin and eggs, spicy breakfast pizza alla vodka and smoked salmon avocado toast for brunch. Spicy rigatoni with Italian sausage, pancetta and vodka sauce adds autumnal warmth to the dinner menu.
- Valley Coffee Company: Downtown Phoenix’s newest coffee shop has two new sandwiches and a new drink to tempt visitors. The ham and apple sandwich pairs ham with apples, cheddar, mayonnaise and apple butter on Noble Bread, while the Turkey ABLT features turkey, applewood-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado cream, lettuce, tomato and mayo, also on Noble Bread. Wash either down with a matcha green tea latte – hot or iced.
$aving$: Watching the old budget? Who isn’t? Here are some sweet deals to help you $ave.
- Miracle Mile Deli: From November 1-December 31, the Phoenix deli will give customers a bonus gift card for every $100 in gift cards they purchase. The amounts on the gift cards vary from $20-$100 and remain a mystery until the guest selects it.
- Chompie’s: More gift card goodness! From November 1-December 31, Chompie’s will offer bonus gift cards. For each $50 you spend on gift cards, you’ll receive an additional $10 GC.
- Macayo’s Mexican Food: Yet another gift card bonus: Get a $10 bonus gift card for every $50 you spend on Macayo’s gift cards, from November 24-December 24.
- Wildflower: To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Valley’s famed bakery and café chain is running a slew of specials. From November 1-7, it will donate 25 percent of the proceeds from the sales of its Turkey Cranberry Walnut Stuffing sandwich to St. Vincent de Paul. It will also be giving out free cookies on November 6.