First Dish: Brunch at Etta

Megan LeckmanJuly 20, 2022
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Day in the Dale cocktail and maple bacon | Photo by Megan Leckman 

Scottsdale Quarter is now home to Etta, a picturesque neighborhood restaurant serving up tasty wood-fired eats and serious Italian getaway vibes that will blend seamlessly into your perfectly curated Instagram aesthetic.

As I pull open the fashionably oversized wooden door that guards Etta’s idyllic entryway and step out of Arizona’s grueling summer heat, I am greeted by a cool gush of air and the smile of a friendly hostess who offers to show my guest and I to our table. It is only after we’ve rounded the corner into the main dining room that I realize the entryway has been deceptively modest.

The ceiling opens dramatically upward, and six grand skylights fill the room with natural light that illuminates the lush foliage and vines that cascade down from the high ceiling, spotlighting the fully grown tree on display. Tony Renis’ iconic “Quando Quando Quando” begins to play in my head. It is immediately obvious that an abundance of time and effort was spent making sure every design detail — every tile, every window, every leaf — was perfectly placed and in agreement with the natural, soft aesthetic before Etta opened its doors in April.

I have a look around the restaurant and quickly surmise that there is no “bad seat” in the house. In addition to the main dining room, there is a front bar area and not one but two patio options, one open and one enclosed, both dog friendly — something I was particularly excited to hear as I miss being able to bring my pup along during the hotter Arizona days. Etta even hosts a monthly Pups on the Patio event with special chef-created pup snacks — specific dates and details for “pup” events can be found on Etta’s website and Instagram page.

Main dining room at Etta | Photo by Megan Leckman

We have come to Etta on this Sunday morning with one mission: Brunch, which is served only on weekends from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. It also happens to be Father’s Day, so I expect the rooms to feel uncomfortably busy, something that tends to make an anxiety-ridden introvert such as myself anxious about dining out at hip new places; especially on holidays; especially on weekends that are also holidays. But even as the rooms fill with families, the atmosphere keeps its open, free-range dining vibe intact, never feeling cramped or congested.

The brunch menu offers an assortment of morning cocktails and mocktails, each handcrafted with unique and exciting ingredients: fresh prickly pear, strawberry mint, “pickled things.” I start with the Day in the Dale cocktail, an exquisite blend of vodka, sweet blueberry prickly pear and sour citrus, and a drip coffee. I expected to see an array of flavored artisanal coffees, lattes and cappuccinos with leaf and heart foam designs, but the selection of coffee is limited to a drip coffee and a cold brew. That being said, the drip coffee is excellent: strong, but not overly bitter (a rare find) and very smooth. My grandma always measures the quality of a restaurant by the coffee — if the coffee is good, the restaurant is good — and it is safe to say the coffee is gooood.

Although there are both breakfast and lunch offerings, we stick to the breakfast plates. I order the soft scramble: eggs with black truffle and parmesan and a side of maple-glazed bacon ($15). My guest (who also happens to be my mom) orders the challah French toast ($14) topped with bourbon toffee sauce, pepita granola and vanilla bean cream, and a side of crispy BBQ potatoes ($8).

Coffee at Etta | Photo by Megan Leckman

The soft scramble melts in my mouth. I combine the maple bacon, truffle eggs and toast for a bite that is jam-packed with flavor. There is no wrong way to eat this dish; any way you arrange it, the flavors just work. I can’t stress enough how good the bacon is, though. If you have a table full of people, you should probably consider ordering one or two extra sides of bacon just to keep the peace — seriously guys, it’s a safety issue.

The French toast is crispy and, full disclosure, can only ethically be described as a sinful breakfast dessert. I think I “accidentally” helped myself to half of my guest’s plate (sorry, Mom). The combination of the bourbon toffee sauce and the crunchy pepita granola feels like a rich taste of fall in the middle of an Arizona summer, which is no easy feat. The crispy BBQ potatoes are definitely worth the $8 price tag. They are adorably tiny fingerling potatoes with a heavenly but impactful blend of spices and topped with an equally flavorful aioli.

Overall, I was shocked at how reasonably priced the brunch menu prices are. I have enjoyed many a brunch venture at many a neighborhood restaurant; most are relatively comparable in price to Etta, but none are comparable in quality or atmosphere.

I came for brunch at Etta for the unique Instagrammable environment, and it did not disappoint, but I could not have anticipated just how amazing the food would be. And that is what will keep me coming back, likely every weekend from now on.

Walk-ins welcome. Reservations encouraged.

15301 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale, 480-939-4444, ettarestaurant.com

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