Hulu premiers “Baker’s Dozen” & a Scottsdale native is one of the winners

Scottsdale native Tess Levin was one of the recent winners on the new Hulu show “Baker’s Dozen” that premiered in early October. She wowed the judges on Episode 3 with her candy art to advance to round two where all remaining contestants made the identical signature dessert before narrowing it down to 3 people for the finals. The “culinary comedian” as Levin calls herself, won the coveted “Golden Rolling Pin” and cash by impressing the judges with her “Mermaid Under the Sea” themed macaron tower.

The 8-part Hulu series is hosted by Tamera Mowry- Housley of Sister, Sister fame and former White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. The 26 year old Levin currently lives in L.A. but grew up in Scottsdale attending Arcadia High School and makes frequent trips back to Arizona. You can see the trailer for the show here.

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Fall Harvest Dinner at Agritopia with The TLC eXperience

Reserve your seats for a multi-course farm to table dinner under the stars in the orchard on Friday November 5th. Limited seats are available for Chef Tom and his culinary team’s menu with Agritopia grown produce and other locally sourced ingredients. Seats are $150 per person for the 6 p.m. start.

Frog’s Leap wine dinner at Tommy V’s Urban Kitchen

Thursday October 28th the downtown Scottsdale restaurant hosts a 5 course dinner paired with the Napa Valley’s acclaimed wines. Ravioli, risotto, short rib and more for $100++ per person. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and the menu and pairings can be found here.

Dominick’s Steakhouse to donate sales of dinners on October 25th

This Monday night the Scottsdale restaurant will donate 100% of the proceeds from the sale of 200 dinners to the Make-A-Wish Arizona. Make-A-Wish was founded in Phoenix and grants wishes to seriously ill children. For more information and to make a reservation visit their website.

Free pizza or salad for National First Responders Day

Fired Pie is giving all active duty police officers and firefighters a free meal all day on Thursday October 28th. Show your badge at any location so the locally owned chain can say “Thank you”.

Buzzed Bull Creamery hiring fair in Scottsdale.

Arizona’s first Buzzed Bull is looking to hire enthusiastic team members for their new Scottsdale location on Wednesday October 27th from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Must be 19 years old, have reliable transportation, be willing to use a hand help POS system and more. Be prepared to interview on site at 7135. E Camelback Rd.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Italian Association of Arizona brings a taste of Italy to Scottsdale

Scottsdale City Hall will be the place to be on Saturday, November 6th if you like Italian wine and pizza. The Italian Association of Arizona presents the first annual Italian Pizza & Wine Festival as a preview of the Italian Festival coming on February 27th & 28th 2022. In addition to pizza & wine, the family friendly festival will offer imported beer, Italian sandwiches and plenty of entertainment and Italian culture.

Francesco Guzzo, Executive Director of the Italian Association of Arizona, said: “We want to give families an opportunity to come out this Fall, and simply have fun for a day outside, and eat what might be Italy’s most popular food, pizza!”

Fabio on Fire, Bored Baker Pizza Maker and Ri de Roma are a few tossing fresh handmade pizza. Hand crafted sandwiches and other Italian foods will be available for purchase from Sogno Toscano and Lulu’s Sorbetto. Classico Fine Wines will be pouring tastes of Italian wines and Peroni & craft beers will be available for beer drinkers. Street musicians, face painters, live music and more will entertain festival goers all day.

“And anything worth celebrating in Italy comes with fantastic wines, and beer – Peroni!  Add the excellent Italian and Italian-American musical entertainment, some roving acts for the kids, and it lends the perfect excuse to come out and support our fabulous Italian pizza makers.” says Guzzo.

The Italian Pizza & Wine Festival goes from 12:00- 9:00 p.m. and tickets are $10 online and $15 at the door. Children under 12 are free and there is a 20% discount for Italian Association members. All proceeds go to the association.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

The Parlour Room to give cocktail enthusiasts a nightly experience

Those looking to get more of an experience for a night on the town will have “The Parlour Room” to visit when it opens on Devil’s Night, Saturday October 30th. The underground cocktail bar joins its sister bar The White Rabbit in downtown Gilbert in the basement courtyard of The Heritage Building at 207 N. Gilbert Rd.

“Our aim is to make an experience of the night out — one that intrigues the seasoned imbiber and is also inviting for social interactions,” explains founder Nick Medina of Medina Hospitality, the brainchild behind both concepts. “At The Parlour Room, as with The Rabbit, achieving that sense of wonderstruck is as important to us as offering the most enticing menu of mixed drinks.”

The new concept will continue the theme of Dr. O’Hare who used his apothecary & medical practice as a decoy for his prohibition speakeasy The White Rabbit. Dylan Matador, head bartender at The White Rabbit curated the cocktail menu which includes a book of specialty martinis and more. The dark & moody red lighting will give it jazzed up atmosphere and encourages guests to dress for a special night out.

For more information and to see hours of operation visit their website.

T-Mobile presents the 6th Annual Phoenix Pizza Festival

Pizza lovers will have twice as much pizza to chow down on next month when the popular Phoenix Pizza Festival returns to Margaret T. Hance Park. Thanks to the new sponsor T-Mobile the festival will be both Saturday and Sunday November 13 & 14 and will expand its boundaries to the streets around the park. Sunday was added as a limited amount of tickets for each day will be available and the additional space was needed to give room for social distancing.

The festival returns after a two year absence with 15-20 pizza makers, dessert food trucks, related food vendors, lawn games and live bands. Slices of pizza will sell for $2-$4 and full pies will be sold from the likes of La Piazza Al Forno, Freak Brothers, Into the Fire, Bored Baker and others. Many of the pizza makers are private caterers or food trucks so the festival may be the best way to taste their pizza. A bar featuring Mule 2.0 will serve cocktails, Bogle wines will be poured as will New Belgium Brewing beers and locally owned State 48 Brewing Co.

The Phoenix Pizza Festival presented by T-mobile is again partnering with Downtown Phoenix Inc. The organization helps promote and re-vitalize downtown Phoenix through events and local business’s. Tickets for the festival can be purchased online only and are $12 per ticket. The festival starts at 11 a.m. each day and goes until 5 p.m. on Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Keeler Hospitality Group founder passes away

The Arizona restaurant community lost a good one this week when Paul Keeler sadly past away. He spent his career in the hospitality industry around the country running hotels & restaurants. He & his family owned Liberty Station Tavern in DC Ranch & Terravita, both in north Scottsdale and Keeler’s Neighborhood Steakhouse in Carefree. They also owned to restaurants around the country. My condolences go out his family.

Serrano’s “Pink Out” in memory of Stephanie Serrano is tomorrow

All four locations will remember co-owner Stephanie who passed away from breast cancer 2 years ago this month. A portion of proceeds from sales during the month of October special will be donated to local non-profit Check for a Lump. The October specials are Stephanie’s Stacked Enchiladas, Pink Out Margarita Sampler and Pumpkin Spice Churro Donut.

A few seats still available for Monday’s dinners.

Jewel’s Cafe in Phoenix is hosting San Francisco chefs Frank Gama & Victor Aguilera for cannabis infused dinners. There are two seating’s at 5 & 8 p.m. with details and how to reserve your seats in this post from a couple of weeks ago.

Gilbert Oktoberfest is next Saturday, October 23rd.

Local craft brewers, live music, food and games will be happening at Gilbert Regional Park next Saturday from 2 – 9 p.m. Tickets are $12 and on-sale now with children under 12 free.

Carlson Creek Vineyard releases new wines

Four hearty & bolder red wines are now available for the cooler temperatures. 2018 Rule of Three $33- 45% Malbec, 33% Grenache & 22% Syrah 2018 Malbec $47, 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon $45 and 2020 Odyssey $50- a blend of Cabernet & Malbec. All wine make for great holiday gift giving and go well paired with the flavors of holiday meals. Wines can be purchased online or at their Scottsdale, Cottonwood or Willcox tasting rooms.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Arizona Bao and Dumpling Festival returns

Tickets are now on sale for the 2021 Arizona Bao and Dumpling Festival that was canceled last year because of the global pandemic. The festival is on Saturday November 6th at downtown Chandler’s Dr. A.J. Chandler Park. It goes from 12- 4:30 p.m. with early entry at 10:30 a.m. for ticket holders with early access.

In order to keep festival goers safe a cleaning company has been hired to sanitize tables & chairs and vendors will be sanitizing their booths. Masked are suggested when standing on line but not required.

Times will be staggered this year with a limited amount of tickets allocated during three time periods and ticket holders MUST arrive in their allocated time. Tickets are non-refundable if you miss your allocated time but you can email the festival organizers to change your time if tickets are still available. Food and drinks sold separately by each vendor with at least one bao or dumpling available for $5 or under. Children 6 and under are free and so is parking. Boba, desserts and other Asian dishes will be available and a curated marketplace with artists will also be happening.

Early admission ticket ($14.99) holders arrive at 10:30 a.m. and no later than 11:30 a.m.

General admission ticket ($10) holders arrive at 12:00 p.m. and no later than 1:30 p.m.

Happy Hour ticket ($6) holders arrive at 2:00 p.m.- until the end. No guarantee that all food and drink will still be available. Menu and vendors subject to change.

Tickets for the Arizona Bao and Dumpling Festival can be purchased and more information can be found here.

Firecreek Coffee Company opens first Phoenix location

Flagstaff’s Firecreek Coffee Company has opened its first Phoenix area location and fourth in the state, this week on Thomas Rd. and 46th St. It’s Founder’s Mike Funk’s second go round in the Phoenix coffee community after he opened Cafe Tech in downtown Phoenix in the early 1990s. He gained his coffee “know how” in the 1980s when he was in the coffee industry where else, in Seattle. He moved to Flagstaff to open his first location in 2008 with locations in Sedona and Cottonwood soon following.

“It’s extremely rewarding to be back in the Phoenix area and to be continuing the Firecreek Coffee legacy here in the Valley,” says Mike Funk, founder of Firecreek Coffee Company. “We can’t wait to introduce our unique culture to the Arcadia neighborhood and look forward to becoming a part of the community for years to come.”

Funk has been in every aspect of the coffee industry including building espresso carts, importing coffee machines, opening coffee bars and supplying hotels & restaurants with premium coffee. He plans to open other Phoenix area locations and a roasting facility at 16th St. & McDowell Rd. which will also double as event and concert venue. Firecreek Coffee Company

Firecreek offers small batch coffee, small bites and sweet treats made by pastry chefs in the morning and afternoon. Guests can enjoy quiche, toast options, salads, Paninis and pastries with their coffee drinks. Consumers have been buying whole beans at AJ’s Fine Foods and Whole Foods throughout Arizona and Firecreek supplies other coffee shops with their beans.

The Phoenix location is opened from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. with plans for longer hours in the future to offer craft cocktails and more. For more information visit their website.

 

Crust Simply Italian to open 3rd location with more planned

Authentic Italian food continues to be one of the most popular segments of the restaurant industry and its going to continue if Mike Merendino has his way. He’s the owner of Crust Simply Italian, the restaurant he started in 2007 in Scottsdale. Merendino, a first generation Italian-American plans to open his third location in mid-2022 in Gilbert with as many as 8 more around Arizona.

He opened a second location, in downtown Chandler location a few years back along with The Ostrich, his speakeasy cocktail bar which will also open in Gilbert. The Ostrich serves classic cocktails such as an Old Fashioned and an Aviation along with creative signature cocktails as well.

Crust Simply Italian
Owner Mike Merendino. Photos courtesy of J. Martin Harris Travel & Leisure Photography

Merendino knows what it takes to run an Italian restaurant as he grew up in his father’s pizzeria on New York’s Long Island. He attributes this to why he’s seen increased sales in the last year as other restaurants have struggled. A wide variety of dishes on the menu with many entrees under $20 is one of the reasons for Crust Simply Italian’s success. “We took off some of the higher-end menu items and focused on what we do well: chicken Parmesan, pizza and lasagna,” Merendino said. “We also really stepped up our salads and lighter Italian fare.” The restaurant also caters private parties and corporate events which has also helped the restaurants bottom line.

Merendino gives credit to his investors who believed in him and gave him the resources to hire and train a great staff who he treats like family. Without those investors and their confidence he doesn’t feel he’d be able to expand to more locations in the coming years. Crust Simply Italian opens daily at 11 a.m. and The Ostrich opens at 6 p.m. during the week and at 5 p.m. on Friday and is closed on Monday’s. The Gilbert location will be at the corner of Williams Field and Recker Roads.

 

Sips & Bites: News you can use from the Phoenix restaurant community

Quick sips & bites of news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

New Fall menu at Hearth ’61

The signature restaurant at Mountain Shadows Resort is now offering its new menu from Chef de Cuisine Alfred Muro. If you’re dining for brunch (Greek Toast w/ poached eggs & Feta, Green Chile Pork Torta) or dinner (Duroc Farms Pork Chop or H ’61 Angliotti w/ short ribs) you know it going to be good. Those and more dishes and new desserts are now available.

GenuWino Appreciation Day Sunday at GenuWine

The downtown Phoenix wine bar is giving wine drinkers an opportunity to join their wine club this Sunday 10/10. Come down to visit between 1 – 6 p.m. and if you sign-up before there is no cost for the day and $15 if you choose not to join. Wine samples and Dough Riders Food Truck will be enjoyed. Members get 2 bottles of wine and an Arizona made gift each month along with 15% off when you visit.

Nonna Urban Kitchen offers new 3-course menu

The Old Town Scottsdale restaurant has updated its menu to highlight seasonal ingredients. Guest can pick from 6 choices in each first and second courses and 3 from the dessert menu. Cost is $48 per person plus tax & gratuity. To see the full menu offerings and to make reservation visit their website.

Fired Pie partners with Special Olympics Arizona for the rest of the year.

Guests visiting the fast casual pizzeria can donate $5 to the non-profit sports organization that works with people with disabilities. In return donors will have a placard with their name at the location until the end of 2021.

PHX Beer Co. launches first Oktoberfest beer

The local brewery released its first Oktoberfest ($16) beer coincides with other new seasonal releases including Howling Oats Hazy IPA ($16) and North Rim Hazy IPA ($17). All three are in limited supply and come in 16 oz 4-pack cans and on tap at the brewers Phoenix taproom and Scottsdale restaurant while supplies last.

Don’t forget to check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.