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.

 

Summer Cocktail Camp tickets on sale for cocktail mixing classes

If all classes were like the six offered at Summer Cocktail Camp I would’ve been an “A” student. For six weeks campers will learn the art of cocktail mixing from local mixologists while making cocktails from new recipes. For one Saturday in June and 5 Sunday’s in July and August from 1 – 3 p.m. classes will be held at restaurants around Phoenix.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://summercocktailcamp.com/ and are sold on first come, first serve basis. Last years camp sold out in only a few days. Phoenix Magazine editor Craig Outhier will be camp counselor for each weeks class along with a revolving list of mixologists. Each class is $38 and 2019’s Summer Cocktail Camp will be at…

  • June 29th (Sat)- The Gladly
  • July 7th- Social Hall
  • July14th- Mowry & Cotton
  • July 28th- Clever Koi (Gilbert)
  • August 4th- The Phoenician Tavern
  • August 11th- Chico Malo

 

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.

Morning Squeeze lets kids eat free until August 31st

The kids are out of school and if their not at camp one way to keep them happy is to feed them. Feeding them all summer cad add up so Scottsdale’s and Tempe’s Morning Squeeze is letting kids eat free all summer.

Until August 31st kids 12 and under can eat for free during breakfast or lunch, no purchase is necessary. The offer is good Monday – Friday and is for dine-in only.

Morning Squeeze
Egg My Way with bacon and potatoes. All photos courtesy of Morning Squeeze.

Choose from Mouse Pancakes, French Toast Sticks with maple syrup, 1 Egg My way with bacon and potatoes or Grilled Cheese Sandwich with French fries.

With a dog friendly patio, the restaurant is one of the more popular Scottsdale restaurants and has been serving breakfast and lunch since 2013. Your dog even has it’s own Tail Wagger’s menu to order from.

The restaurants are open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Morning Squeeze is located at 4233 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85251 and 690 S. Mill Ave. Tempe, 85287. Visit their website for more information.

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.

Summer Savings and Kids Eat Free at Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers

Heading out to lunch and dinner during the hot summer months can be quite a chore. So locally owned Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers is motivating you with Summer Savings including Kids Eat Free a few locations.

Beginning May 28th at their Arcadia, Shea, 7th St and Gilbert(Higley) locations kids  12 and under get a free meal when an adult meal is purchased all day Tuesday. The Kid’s Meal’s are available everyday too and include Cheeseburger Sliders, Chicken Fingers, Grilled Cheese, Mmmac & Cheese and more. A small drink and fries are included for $7.50.

Summer Savings
Cheeseburger Fries. All photos courtesy of Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers

More Summer Savings

That’s just one of the ways to get you to come out in the heat. Other Summer Savings include the return of the popular Summer Secret Scratch Off. 50,000 scratch off cards are ready to be given away at all locations. When redeemed on a future visit guests will receive 10% and have a chance to win these prizes.

  • $1,000 cash prize
  • 2-night staycation at a luxury resort, $200 tab at Bourbon & Bones and a complimentary lunch at Famous 48
  • Golf Foursome at a Scottsdale golf course
  • Up to 30% off next visit

    Summer Savings
    Cheeseburger Sliders

Summer Savings also include the featured deals on food and beer daily including.

  • Monday – Mac Daddy Monday. All day, $13.50 unlimited toppings on MMMac & Cheese
  • Happiest Hour in Town. Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers is known for its generous weekly happy hour featuring select appetizers, domestic and craft beer specials.
  • Tuesday – Cantastic Tuesday. All day, $3 any canned beer and half-off bottles of wine
  • Wednesday – Pimp Your Burger. All day, $13.50 with unlimited toppings
  • Thursday – Trivia Thursday. $8.50 tot chos, $5 Dos Equis Mugs, $4 White Claws, $5 Jack Daniels Cocktails
  • Every Day Ice Cold Beer Buckets.  “Buy 6, Save $6;” “Buy 12, Save $12.”  Fans can mix and match from a selection of 100 canned and bottled beers.

With 10 locations in around Phoenix and 2 more on the way find a Cold Beer & Cheeseburgers  near you at https://www.coldbeers.com/

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.

Uptown Phoenix to get 9th Someburros location this summer

The family-owned Someburros Mexican eatery continues to grow and has announced their 9th location in Uptown Phoenix. It will be the first location outside the east valley when it opens at 7th St and Camelback. Expected top open later this summer, they will be serving award-winning burritos, tacos, enchiladas and more authentic Mexican food.

The fast casual restaurant will also serve frozen margaritas and draft beers to go with your food.

Co-owner Amy Vasquez is very excited about the Uptown Phoenix location as its where she lives. “It’s been a dream of mine for some time to open a Someburros in my neighborhood,” she said. “We know this community, we love this community and we’re raising our own families in this community, so we can’t wait to build our workforce and fanbase within it.”

When George and Mary Vasquez opened the first Someburros in 1986 they insisted on giving back to the community. Their three children continue this tradition of philanthropy at the current 8 locations.  When the new location opens it will partner with local schools as part of their community outreach.

“This is a bustling area, and with so many students, professionals and residents around, fast-casual is always in demand,” said Tim Vasquez, of the decision to open in Uptown Phoenix. “We’ve been thinking about expanding to this area for a while now, but we wanted to wait until we could find the perfect place. Now that we’ve found it, we can’t wait to get the doors open.”

To keep up to date on when the new location will open and to find the other location check out their website.

 

Valley chef fishing in Alaska for King Salmon today, on the menu tonight

As I type Ocean 44 Chief Executive Chef Marc Lupino is on his way back to Scottsdale after a quick fishing trip to Alaska. Lupino left Wednesday for Cordova to fish the Copper River for King Salmon before the fishing season opens for commercial fishing.

This unique opportunity has Lupino and a small group of people fishing Thursday into Friday before returning to Scottsdale. Once he returns he will prepare the fish for guests Friday evening. It doesn’t get much fresher than that, especially for a restaurant so far from the Copper River.

Once in the kitchen the fish will be braised in spring water, butter and lemon. Can’t make it in tonight, the fish will be on the menu in coming weeks as more fish are caught.

Celebrating the Copper River King Salmon

This annual event as the fishing season opens has restaurants anticipating the arrival of this rich and flavorful fish. Restaurants in Seattle celebrate it’s arrival as Alaska Airlines delivers thousands of pounds of the fish Friday morning.

The airline’s “Salmon Thirty Salmon” even displays a 129 foot image of the wild caught salmon.

2019 is expected to be better than 2018 for the salmon harvest.

Ocean 44 is at 4748 N. Goldwater Blvd. Scottsdale 85251.