TripAdvisor announces Rusconi’s American Kitchen to its Hall of Fame

Travel and review website TripAdvisor has awarded Rusconi’s American Kitchen with its 5th Certificate of Excellence in a row. With this announcement the popular Phoenix restaurant is now part of TripAdvisor’s Hall of Fame.

TripAdvisor awards this prestigious honor to business’s who consistently receive great reviews and a four of five rating.

“We’re extremely proud of have received this accolade for five years running because it really shows that our customers are not only happy with our food and service, but also that they want to share their positive experiences at Rusconi’s with others,” says Michael Rusconi, owner and chef of Rusconi’s. “And now to be part of the TripAdvisors’ Hall of Fame is even more humbling.”

Owner and chef Michael Rusconi opened the restaurant more than five years ago to many local and national accolades. Before opening his own restaurant Rusconi re-invented the menu at Lon’s at The Hermosa Inn. He advocates for sustainable food and his resume includes Mobil 4 Stars and nominations for the Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame.

The restaurant is open daily serving lunch Tues. -Fri. along with dinner and brunch on the weekend.

Rusconi’s American Kitchen is at 10637 N. Tatum Blvd. Phoenix 85028.

 

James Beard Foundation’s “Taste America” stops in Phoenix

Phoenix is on the map of the James Beard Foundation hot off the recent win by FnB’s Charleen Badman’s for “Best Chef: Southwest”. It’s also on the map for the foundations “Taste America” tour scheduled for September 19th- 21st. Phoenix is one of 20 cities chosen to host the event.

Tickets went on sale this week for the three day event for the cross country culinary experience.

Photos courtesy of Rose Moser Ally PR

Taste America events

The weekend kicks off on Thursday September 19th with the “Raising the Bar” walk around reception at Seventh and Union. Guests will meet rising star chefs and mixologists while sipping on cocktails and tasting culinary creations. Kyla Dahl of Pigtails Cocktail bar and Matt Steward of Undertow are just a couple of the mixologists in attendance.

Dom Ruggerio of Hush Public House and Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper along with others will show off their culinary talents.

Friday night is the “Gala Benefit Dinner” at The Royal Palms Resort & Spa. The cocktail and tasting reception starts at 7 p.m. with tastes created by local chefs Stephen Jones of The Larder & Delta, Cat Bunnag of Glai Ban and others. Guests will then be treated to a three- course dinner menu created by visiting chef Tiffany Derry of Plano’s Roots Chicken Shack, local all-star Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar and host chef Alexander Robinson.

A dessert reception with Danielle O’Day of Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop and Hollie Layman-Sanders of The Royal Palms ends the night.

A silent and live auction will be held during the evening. A portion of the proceeds from dinner and auctions will go to the foundations scholarship programs.

Saturday will bring a cooking demonstrations by one of the all star chefs. Details are still being worked for this event.

Be sure to Like the Facebook page and on Instagram and Twitter.

Meet the Winemakers of the Scottsdale Wine Trail for dinner

Have you ever wondered why a certain wine is grown or made? Why did the winery use French or American oak for this wine? These questions and others along with a winemakers’ stories about winemaking will be answered on June 27th at Aridus Wine Company in Scottsdale. Meet the winemakers from the Scottsdale Wine Trail as they come together to co-host the Winemakers Inspirational Dinner.

The dinner will bring the winemakers’ from Aridus, LDV Winery, Carlson Creek Vineyards and Salvatore Vineyards. The wines will be paired with dinner from Nonna Urban Eatery in Scottsdale.

Meet the winemakers at the reception beginning at 6:00 with wines and appetizers followed by a four-course dinner. Throughout the evening the winemakers’ will tell stories of their time in the wine industry and answer questions from guests.

Because of the limited seating reservations are needed and can be made at Eventbrite. The dinner is $150 per person.

The Aridus Wine Company’s Tasting Room is at 7173 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

Mora Italian introduces a new tasty Happy Hour menu

If you haven’t made your way to Mora Italian yet like me, their new happy hour menu might convince you to head there today. Monday – Friday from 4-6 p.m. you can save some dough on pork ribs, veal meatballs, salumi & cheese and more.

For $20 choose from combos including a Rimini pizza or Salumi Board with a bottle of rose or a carafe of an Aperol Spritz.

Italian
Artichoke soup

Cocktails are also included on the new menu including Sangria & Aperol Spritz for $5, an Americano for $7 and more.

Mora Italian new summer dishes

Celebrity chef & restaurateur lends his culinary creativity to Mora Italian and is showcased in three new dishes for summer. Chef Matt Taylor and his team execute the menus in the kitchen. These new dishes are perfect for lighter and cooler summer dining.

Artichoke Soup with truffle, Parmesan bread and pignoli.

10 oz. Prime Niman Ranch NY Strip with charred potato panzanella and grilled ramp vinaigrette.

Roasted Summer Squash with smoked yogurt, Feta and neonata.

10 oz NY Strip

The Phoenix restaurant offers guests a modern osteria experience with Neopolitan pizzas, pasta dishes, satisfying entrees and delicious desserts. Progressive cocktails and a wine list round out the experience.

Mora Italian is at 5651 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85014. (602)795-9943

Local eats in suburban New Jersey, NYC and Saratoga Springs

Like many of us living in Arizona, I too came from somewhere else. Across the river from New York City in suburban New Jersey I grew up on take-out pizza, diner food, and bagels. Despite many New York and New Jersey transplants opening restaurants serving food from our home state those foods just taste better back east. Whenever I head back for a visit I head for my favorite foods and I was back a couple of weeks ago.

Most people wouldn’t visit these family restaurants in suburban Bergen County unless you’re visiting family or friends in the area. But if you live there or happen to be traveling through the small towns that dot the metro area they’re easy to find.

Let’s eat

When you don’t know what you want or everybody wants something different a local diner is always a good call. So with family who flew into town we headed to to Matthews Colonial Diner in Waldwick. Wanting a char-broiled burger I opted to eat healthy knowing there would be plenty of food this week. The Beet & Goat Cheese Salad was a solid and out of the ordinary choice for me. My family knowing my eating habits gave me the “are you feeling ok” look when the word salad came out of my mouth.

Seems like Italian food reigned the week with 2 or 3 meals as we wound having pizza or pasta delivered. A favorite of my sister and her family is The Sicilian Sun in Ho-Ho-Kus. Whether we walk over to dine-in or have it delivered it rarely disappoints. Ordering take-out I went pasta free ordering Chicken Scarpello with sausage, pepperoncini, mushrooms, garlic and a touch of garlic. So good I may have to head back sooner than later to get it again.

New Jersey
Chicken Scarpello from The Sicilian Sun

Wednesday lunch had a group of 20 family and friends at the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern for a 4 course lunch. Lots of history at this place that was constructed in 1796. The entree course had your typical, beef, chicken and fish option along with Bolognese Tagliatelle. I had the latter, I told you there was a lot of Italian food.

In the city

A trip to New Jersey isn’t complete without a visit to New York City. Thursday I caught a ride to lower Manhattan’s Financial District to play tourist and walk off the calories I consumed.

Getting into the city early I grabbed a a quick lox, egg & tomato bagel from the Park Place location of Lenwich, a local chain of sandwich shops I’ve never experienced before. Not my typical bagel and lox combination but it gave me the fuel I needed to pound the pavement.

Meeting a friend for lunch who had little time we opted for “street meat” from a food truck nearby. The city is know for it’s food trucks and carts offering a quick and reasonably priced lunch. We went for Mediterranean food and I opted for a falafel sandwich and my friend with a chicken and rice. Filling portions for only $5 each. The weather was one of the nicer days so we opted for a park bench to eat and chat.

New Jersey
NYC Falafel

Back on the Jersey side

Thursday dinner had us ordering in…… pizza from Anthony Franco’s Pizzeria. A visit to Jersey wouldn’t be a visit to Jersey without a couple of pizza pies. Sausage, onions, mushrooms and more topping our pies a few slices for now and few left for later.

In between rain drops on Friday I decided to give in to my burger craving at Red Cedar Market Season Kitchen for their RCM Mushroom and Swiss burger. This busy cafe made the best burger I’ve had in a while. Made to order and cooked to my preferred medium rare and drizzled with truffle oil and served with delicious fries.

New Jersey
RCM Mushroom & Swiss burger

Dinner had heading to the State Line Diner, a couple of miles south of the New York state border on Route 17. So much to choose from I didn’t know what I was going with until the words “Roat Beef & Swiss Cheese Triple Decker sandwich with a side of Steak Cut Onion Rings” came out. The rare roast beef was good but I wish I hadn’t ordered the onion rings as I compared them to a hometown favorite pile from the defunct Louie’s Charcoal Pit.

A quick trip upstate to Saratoga Springs

Saturday afternoon I drove up the New York Thruway to visit a friend I met in Arizona who re-located back home to upstate New York.

Once arriving I made my way to Broadway, the main drag in Saratoga Springs, waiting for my friend to get off work. The best weather of my visit had people out & about on this late Saturday afternoon and I found Druthers Brewery for a cold Raspberry Nut Brown Ale. It hit the spot before I strolled the downtown to Congress Park to taste the spring water known for in the area.

Meeting my friend at Purdy’s Discount Wine & Liquors where she got off work but not before I tasted New York State made sangria and sparkling wine.

With other friends taking the train from Boston for an overnight visit the plan was for a festive Paella dinner. After wine, a generous portion of charcuterie and realizing it was late our Paella dinner was tabled until Sunday brunch. Made from scratch with each the chicken, shrimp and chorizo cooked separately we all watched and helped prepare as we sipped on our cups of Spot Coffee, an upstate coffee roaster.

New Jersey
The Cortile at Solevo

Dinner on Sunday night in Saratoga had us paying a visit to get this, a new Italian restaurant Solevo Kitchen & Social. For an appetizer we ordered the tasty Eggplant Chips drizzled with Calabrian Chili Honey and basil. My friends ordered the Sunday Sauce, rigatoni and meatballs in a San Marzano plum tomato sauce and Gnochhi with wild mushrooms, arugula, rosemary in a brown butter sauce.

After seeing several Items I’d already had that week I went with The Cortile, a mix of prosciutto, sweet peas, ground veal in a plum tomato & cream sauce with tagliatelle. Red wine and my Pinky Ring cocktail accompanied our meal and all were satisfied for our walk home.

Back to Jersey then back to Arizona

After a fun visit upstate I made my trip back down to New Jersey Monday morning. Deciding to raid my sisters cabinets and refrigerator for late lunch and early dinner I opted not to order….Italian food for dinner. Despite my best efforts to taste my niece and nephews Chicken Parmigna their like me very protective of their food. Early Tuesday I was on a plane back to my current home, Scottsdale.

More New Jersey and New York eats on my next visit east. See my Instagram for pictures of my visit @SandyWass

 

Chef + Farmers Market series returns to Hotel Valley Ho

Don’t let this weeks cooler than normal temperatures fool you, the triple digits are coming. When the heat returns many of the Phoenix area farmers markets take the summer off but not at Hotel Valley Ho. Summer is when their Chef + Farmers Market returns indoors at their Sands indoor venue.

Saturday’s from June 22nd – July 13th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. guests can enjoy tastes from local chefs, purchase fresh produce and more goodies from local purveyors. While shopping and tasting enjoy live music and sip on Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s or taste wine and spirits. Valley Ho’s chef Russell Lacasce will provide the tasty bites along with Matt Taylor of Mora Italian and Rene Andrade of Ghost Ranch.

Save room to taste the milkshakes made by contestants of the Battle Freak Shake contest to see who makes the best “Show Stopper” Shake.  The winning shake  will be featured in Augustin Zuzu. All attendees will receive a voucher for 25% off a summer visit to Zuzu.

Each weeks Chef + Farmers Market will have a theme from food to music, here is the schedule.

June 22nd- South of the Border

June 29th- Bada Boom

July 6th- Grillin ‘n’ Chillin

July 13th – Sweet Treats

Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

Chef Tandy Peterson has new Spring seasonal menu at Mowry & Cotton

Guests dining for dinner and brunch at Mowry & Cotton will notice new dishes to choose from the next time they dine at the restaurant. Chef de Cuisine Tandy Peterson has added Spring vegetables and proteins to the menu at the award-wining restaurant.

At the modern American restaurant inside The Phoenician Resort, Peterson has chosen lighter and fresh fare for Spring dining. New dishes on the dinner menu include Corn & Chorizo dip with chicharrones, chilis & Oaxaca cheese. Popular American comfort food favorite Chicken Pot Pie is packed with potatoes, sage veloute and Spring vegetables. A fresh tuna steak and Blistering Shishito Peppers are also featured on the new menu.

New brunch menu items feature Crispy Chicken Sandwich and Belgian Waffles with lemon curd, berries and Chantilly cream.

Mowry & Cotton at The Phoenician 6000 E Camelback Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251. To make reservations to dine with Chef Tandy Peterson call 480.423.2530

It’s National BBQ Month and Famous Dave’s has deals for your meals

There’s a lot to celebrate in the month of May including foodie favorite National BBQ Month. The 4 Phoenix area Famous Dave’s BBQ’s have a months worth of BBQ deals for smoked meat lovers.

Chicken Week starts today through the 12th. $12.99 for a chicken platter, 2 sides, salad and cornbread.

Add-On Brisket Week is the 13th – 19th. For $2 you can add smoked brisket to any entrée.

Every Monday in May is BOGO Monday. Buy 1 sandwich and get 1 FREE!

Must mention above offer to get deals.

Tuesday is $29.99 Feast for 2. Save $14!

When mom and dad order an entrée on Tuesday, kid’s get to eat for free from the Lil Wilbur’s menu. 1 free kids meal per adult entrée.

Wing Wednesday gets you $.50 Jumbo Wings. Do I need to say anything else!

All You Can Eat Rib Tips for $15.99 on Thursdays. Sorry no sharing or to-go boxes for this one.

Kick off the weekend on Friday’s with $5 Hand Crafted Signature Drinks.

Also during National BBQ Month

You know your mom loves BBQ so bring her in on Mother’s Day for a $10 gift card for another visit. And Signature Drinks are just $5.

Senior Lunch Deal gets those 55 & over saving 20% everyday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. in May. Don’t forget to mention the offer for this one.

Book a graduation party at Famous Dave’s during National BBQ Month and get a $25 gift card for future visit. Call 480-718-5331, text 480-310-9310 or email  catering@famousdavesaz.com  for more information and to place your order!

Until May 19th bring a case of water and help fill an F-150 and receive 1/2 off voucher for Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Phoenix AND a free brisket sandwich. Limited quantities on both.

Visit Famous Dave’s BBQ for more details. No other discounts on above promotions valid. The 4 Phoenix area Famous Dave’s are at Mesa Riverview, Santan Village in Gilbert, Chandler & Peoria.

 

 

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa offers Winemaker Dinner Series

The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa has announced their lineup for their Winemaker Dinner Series for the rest of 2019. The dinners will feature California wineries paired with a delicious four-course menu prepared by chefs Juan Solorio & Joaquin Estolano Jr.

Dinners will be held in the resorts Alto Ristorante e Bar and will start with an appetizer and wine reception at 6:30 followed by dinner at 7. I recently had the opportunity to taste the several dishes prepared by the creative culinary team and guests are in for an epicurean experience. To see what I dined on visit my Instagram @SandyWass.

The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa’s Winemaker Dinner Series.

Nickel & Nickel -Thursday, May 23, 2019

Established in 1997, Nickel & Nickel are devoted exclusively to producing 100% varietal, single-vineyard wines that best express the distinctive personality of each vineyard.

Joseph Wagner Wines -Thursday, June 20, 2019

A family of fine wines, Joseph Wagner is made from some of the best regions in California.

Frog’s Leap- Thursday, July 18, 2019

Adhering to the premise that the greatest wines are those that truly reflect their soil, climate and circumstance. Frog’s Leap believes the winemaker’s role is to stand back and let the natural beauty of grapes show through.

BV (Beaulieu Vineyards)- Thursday, August 15. 2019

Founded in 1900, BV continues with the spirit of innovation to produce exceptional wines that stand among the world’s finest.

Duckhorn- Thursday, September 19, 2019

Over the past 40 years, Duckhorn has established itself as one of North America’s premier producers of Napa Valley wines.

The per person price for June through September is $95++.

Orin Swift- Thursday, October 17, 2019

Combining excellent wines with creative labeling, Orin Swift has grown very fast to become one of the wines most enjoyed.

Plumpjack- Thursday, November 14, 2019

Their wines are a reflection of their unique terroir, the passion and precision of their winemaker, and their commitment to craft wines consistently express the distinct qualities of their estate vineyards in the Oakville appellation.

ZD- Thursday, December 19, 2019

Over three generations, their passion for wine has gained ZD the recognition as one of Napa Valley’s favorite offering unrivaled world-class wines.

The per person price for October through December is $115++.

Reserve your seat

Because seats are limited, reservations are required. To make a reservation call (480)444-1234 ext. 8650. Repeat guests will receive 10% off the new dinner. To see menus as they are planned visit their website. Wines will be available for purchase at a discounted price.

The Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa is at 7500 E. Doubletree Ranch Rd. Scottsdale 85258.

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen spices it up in Tempe

Restaurateur Ron Lynch is no stranger to opening restaurants having opened over 100 Tilted Kilt’s across the country.  Having left Tilted Kilt, Lynch has opened VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen. The restaurant on Elliot Rd. near Costco serves up Cajun, Creole & Caribbean cuisine.

VooDoo Daddy's Steam Kitchen
Jambalaya. Photos credit Janet Zhou-Wilt

“We are excited about our location and have really put a lot of work into this menu,” said owner and founder, Ron Lynch. “If there’s one thing to know about Cajun food it’s that the dishes have to be just right. Our patio will be a place for families to people watch, sip some custom blended ice teas, porch wines, nitro cold brew coffee or a craft beer and enjoy a nice bowl of gumbo or jambalaya.”

Lynch brought with him James Heyl to prepare the menu full of savory and spicy dishes. Heyl brings with over 25 years of restaurant experience. Dishes include Po’ Boys, gumbo, red beans & rice and pan roasts from the restaurants steam kettles.

The bright yellow 3,150 square foot restaurant is decorated with murals of late night jazz players dancing on piano keys. Dark wood floors and brick walls adorn the inside of the fast casual restaurant.

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen official grand opening

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen is now open but will have an official grand opening on Thursday May 16th at 11 a.m. That day a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Tempe Diablos. The 501-c non-profit civic organization enhances and promotes the Tempe community. In 2018 the Diablos donated $900,000 to Tempe area charities for scholarships, teacher awards and needs based services.

VooDoo Daddy's Steam Kitchen
Pork Po’boy

“The recipe for a great restaurant is incredible food and drinks, a perfect location and rich atmosphere,” said Lynch. “VooDoo Daddy’s has all of that and more. We couldn’t be more excited for this launch.”

VooDoo Daddy’s Steam Kitchen is at 1325. W. Elliot Rd. Suite 106 Tempe 85284. The restaurant is open Sun. – Thurs. from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. & 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat. For more information see their website.