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.

 

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.

Coffee roaster to open flagship roastery in mid-July

Last year I reported that Phoenix coffee roaster Press Coffee was planning on opening a flagship roastery, it’s almost ready to go. Opening in mid-July it will include three new roasters, classroom & event space and a cafe.

The popular coffee roaster will do all of its roasting in the two-story 5,600 square foot eco-friendly facility. Solar panels on the roof and the use of natural gas will give the roastery energy efficiency. Guests will be able to see the roasting process while they enjoy food and drinks from the lounge area.

“We are thrilled to welcome the community into our new flagship location. The Roastery allows us to share with the public our love for coffee and how we make it. We hope this iconic building and our passion for the seed to cup process will be something Arizona can be proud of for years to come”

A new Probat roaster from Germany will give Press the ability to increase production for years to come of its cold brew and recently released cans. Roasted to perfection, the beans are of the highest quality and sourced from the best coffee farms around the world.

The upstairs will have space for 30 people and will be available for private events and coffee classes.

The cafe will serve and expanded food menu along with beer, wine and liquor. A new addition will be the “adult” cold brew shaker featuring peanut butter whiskey.

For three days Press will sell cups of drip coffee for $1 with all proceeds going to Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Press’s roastery will be at 10443 N. 32nd St. Phoenix 85028. To find a Press Coffee roaster near you check out https://www.presscoffee.com/

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

Celebration of Summer at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North

Whether you want to enjoy a cocktail and light bites or a sit down dinner the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North have something to offer. My last post about Talavera Restaurant dining experiences offers an epicurean adventure to Spain and Latin America. The resorts other restaurants Proof, An American Canteen, Onyx Bar and Lounge as well as Talavera, offer culinary treats created in time for summer.

I had the pleasure of tasting all of the dishes and drinks below. All cocktails below are created by the resorts beverage director in conjunction with the chefs of each establishment. The dishes are light and offer seasonal ingredients and the drinks were refreshing and unique.

Onyx Bar & Lounge at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North

Just of the lobby with a beautiful view to the south you can enjoy these specially created bites and cocktails. Talavera Restaurant Sous Chef Samantha Sanz and her culinary team created the these three dishes.

Salmon Belly Tartare
Chistorra and Peppers Flatbread with charred chistorra, pipperada, caramelized onion and mustard sauce, cotija cheese.
Cheesy Arepa Bite
Salmon Belly Tartare
Illegal Anejo Mezcal Old Fashioned
Negroni Spritz
Ultimate Honeydew

Proof, An American Canteen

Everything served in this roadhouse styled restaurant is from the good ol’ U.S.A. Take a road trip around the country in June, July and August with the specially created dishes and drinks.

Prepared by chefs Dell Morris, Joey Cavaretta and Conrad Butler “Proof Across America”  along with Smokehouse Fridays where entrees are cooked low n slow in their outdoor smoker.

Four seasons Resort at Troon North
Texas BBQ Platter

June- Stone Crab Cake with sea urchin and Key lime remoulade

July– Texas BBQ Plate with beef brisket, smoky beer cheese sausage and house made BBQ sauce. Watermelon Panzanella Salad with Crow’s Dairy goat feta and mint. I love BBQ!

August- Crispy cactus fries with cotija cheese and avocado ranch.

Havasu Heat (with Ixa Tequila, pineapple and charred jalapeño)

Huss Arizona Light Lager

Le Cumbre Elevated IPA

Talavera Restaurant

The Spanish steakhouse serves tapas styled small plates, desserts and cocktails unique to the Spanish culture. More from sous chef Sanz and dessert by Pastry Chef Lance Whipple.

Four Seasons Resort at Troon North
Brazilian Carrot Cake

Pan con Tomate – Noble bread, roasted garlic, heirloom tomato and Spanish olive oil

Queen Creek Olives

Summer Corn and Tomato Tapa with summer corn, heirloom tomato with tomato butter cilantro and charred lime

Charred Tuna with grilled peach and salted marcona almonds

Summer Corn Paella with chorizo Bilbao, prawn, peas, mussels and clams, and chermoula verde

Brazilian Carrot Cake with chocolate brigadeiro icing, and summer carrot purée. This was a personal favorite, like no carrot cake you’ve had before.

Leche Frita with cajeta goat milk caramel and sherry blackberries

Rose Sangria with watermelon, tangerine and strawberry

Tarragon Gin Tonic- Did you see my Instagram video of Beverage Director Laura creating this cocktail?

The Four Seasons Resort at Troon North is at 10600 Crescent Moon Dr. 85262

6th annual Tilted Earth Music & Wine Festival returns to Verde Valley

To celebrate the Summer Solstice, Page Springs Cellars will host the 6th Annual Tilted Earth Music & Wine Festival. The evening of Friday June 21st will bring a wine dinner & Saturday 22nd will offer guests the music festival. The events will benefit of the Arizona Culinary Institute of Scottsdale and local Verde Valley charities.

Page Springs founder and winemaker at Page Springs Cellars says of the festival “Tilted strives to accomplish these goals by tilling the “soils” on and around the Summer Solstice each year by producing the Tilted Earth Festival. The “seeds” will be sown in this soil by the hands of attending artisans from the fields of craft drink, food, music and fine arts. After planting, the fields will be “watered” by the local community – Arizonans from far-and-wide – and eventually people from all over the country and world. The cultural and economic fruit grown and harvested from this effort will strengthen our people, our families, our community and our economy.

The Henry Schuerman Commemorative Wine Dinner

Five chefs will prepare a five course dinner honoring the father of Verde Valley winemaking, Henry Schuerman. The dinner will be paired with wines from local wineries. The chef’s will draw inspiration from Schuerman’s family vintage cookbook from the late 1800’s. Schuerman’s descendants will be on hand to speak about the families winemaking history.

The dinner will be under the stars on Page Springs outdoor deck and will start at 7 p.m. Tickets will be $105+ and proceeds will benefit student scholarships.

Music at Tilted Earth

Saturday evening brings a line-up of 4 bands, a wine garden, a food truck, games, massage and a silent auction. The doors open up at 5:30 with Ill Ego taking the stage followed by House of Stairs, Joe Novelli & The CloudWalls and Gerado Continos and The Habaneros. Festival goers are invited to bring blankets and chairs but no pets.

Tickets for the rain or shine festival are $65 on-line and $75 at the door. Tickets include a free parking (at DA Ranch) and a shuttle to Page Springs, water and a stemless wine glass. To purchase tickets for one or both events head to the festivals website.

Silent auction items include wine pairing dinner, original artwork, Verde Valley railroad rides and signed bottles of wine.

Page Springs Cellars Tasting Room & Bistro will be open both days but will close at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Page Spring Cellars is at 1500 N Page Springs Rd. Cornville 86325.

 

 

 

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.