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.

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.

 

Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux coming to Gilbert in January

Sports fans and Louisiana style cuisine enthusiasts will be able to enjoy both come January when Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux opens in Gilbert. The Baton Rouge based restaurant was founded in 2003 by Brandon Landry, a former walk-on to the LSU basketball team.

“We are so excited to be able to bring Walk-On’s to the City of Gilbert and the state of Arizona,” said Franchisee Ken Weaver. “We are honored to be a part of this great community and to introduce the Taste of Louisiana with a game day atmosphere to this fast-growing city! We look forward to meeting everyone at the ceremony, as well as building our roster of all-star team members.”

In addition to Louisiana food staples including Crawfish Etouffe and Duck & Andouille Gumbo the restaurant will serve 48 beers on tap. Sports fans will be able to see every play from all Phoenix sports teams on 75 TVs. In the coming months the restaurant will be hiring over 200 people to join Walk-On’s team. A ground-breaking ceremony takes place this Thursday October 7th at 11 a.m. with local dignitaries and executives from the restaurant.

Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux will be at 4828 S. Power Rd. Gilbert and a complete menu and more information can be found on their website.

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.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery opens 2nd Arizona location

The one stop wine shop, tasting bar & full service restaurant open their 2nd location in Chandler next Monday September 27th. It’s their second location to open in less than a year as they opened in north Scottsdale in December 2020. See my Instagram for my sneak peek tour and tasting.

Today is Press Coffee’s “Day of Giving”

The locally owned coffee roaster & cafe is looking to raise $25,000 at its 8 valley locations today. This annual event is raising money for Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and is donating 100% of today’s profits from on-line & in-store sales with other valley businesses offering to match Press’s donation.

Wren House Brewing beer pairing dinner at Liberty Tavern next week.

The tavern & smokehouse location at Terravita hosts a dinner with the local brewer’s craft beers paired with chef crafted dishes. On the evening of Wednesday, September 29th guests will enjoy 4 -courses that include Beer Battered Fish & Chips, Smoked Brisket Mole and more for $55++. Reservations are required and space is limited. Visit their website for more information.

Fired Pie is holding a hiring fair September 29th

The expanding fast casual pizzeria is looking to hire 2-3 people at each of its 21 locations around Phoenix and is welcoming people to come in and apply & interview next Wednesday. Back & front of the house, managers and shift leaders have openings and those interested can head to any location from 1:30- 6 p.m. on the 29th. Pay is up to $15/ hour plus $45 bonus after 45 days on the job. Shift meals and other benefits are are offered.

The Italian Daughter launches new dinner menu

The newish Italian restaurant in north Scottsdale has added several new dishes to it extensive menu. Look for dishes such as Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp, Sicilian Seafood Salad, A Mozzarella Tasting Board, a 12 oz. Chicken Breast Marsala & Short Rib Porcini Ravioli and more.

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 Morning Beer Festival opens Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships

Nothing like starting your Saturday morning with a nice hearty stout or refreshing lager but come Saturday October 23rd you’ll able to sip on those and other beers at the debut of the nation’s first Morning Beer Festival. The festival will be one of the first events of the 2021 Bentley Scottsdale Polo Championships at Westworld of Scottsdale and one of the new additions to the 10 year old event.

The gates open at 9:45 a.m. with festival and first polo match starting at 10 a.m. followed by “The World’s Longest Fashion Show” and “Canine Couture: A Dog  Fashion Show Like No Other” in between matches. During the Morning Beer Festival guests will be able to sip on beers that taste good in the morning including Founder’s Breakfast Stout & Mudshark Brewing’s Morning Buzz Coffee stout. Guests will be able to purchase pints or flights of beer with accompanying meats such as bacon, ham and more.

In addition to fashion shows, polo & lacrosse matches attendee can enjoy DJ infused party tents with admission and VIP experiences are available for a more luxurious day in private tents and bottle service. General admission tickets start at $35 and include admission to the Morning Beer Festival and other field-side experiences.

VIP tickets and tables are available for purchase at The Polo Party and it’s where you’ll find more information and details.

Hot Dog Days starts Friday September 3rd at Joe’s Farm Grill

Labor Day weekend we un-offically say “good bye” to summer and “hello” to a month long of gourmet hot dogs and sausages at Gilbert’s Joe’s Farm Grill. From September 3rd til October 3rd celebrate the return of Hot Dog Days with six delicious specially created all-beef, natural cased premium hot dogs & sausages from Phoenix’s Schreiner’s Fine Sausages.

Each Hot Dog Days special come with a side of French fries or another side from the menu. Each hot dog is $12 or a combination of 2 for $18 and a special Peach Melba Shake to wash it down is only $5.50.

Hot Dogs Days gourmet dogs

The six hot dogs are….

Cheddar Coney Dog — A grilled hot dog smothered with mild homemade Michigan Coney sauce and yellow mustard then topped by a quarter-pound mountain of finely shredded Tillamook cheddar cheese; served with diced onions on the side.

Danger Dog — A jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with atomic horseradish, honey mustard, homemade sweet-hot pepper relish and a heap of finely shredded ghost pepper jack cheese; served with extra relish on the side.

Carolina Blue Dog — A grilled dog topped with a generous portion of Joe’s signature BBQ pulled pork, tangy blue cheese crumbles, and hand-cut sweet coleslaw then drizzled with Joe’s Real BBQ sauce and homemade coleslaw dressing; served with extra Joe’s Real BBQ sauce on the side.

Sonoran Dog — A long-time Joe’s Farm Grill favorite, this (slightly) new and improved recipe features a jalapeno-stuffed, bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with homemade Farm beans, queso de cotija, pico de gallo and finished yellow mustard and a sour cream-mayo drizzle; served with whole fried peppers on the side.

Big Fat Greek Dog — Schreiner’s smoked Greek-seasoned pork sausage topped with cucumber tzatziki sauce, drizzled with yellow mustard, and then piled high with Joe’s Greek fries (featuring garlic sauce, feta, tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and fresh herbs); served with extra sauce on the side.

Italian Sausage Dog — A fresh sweet Italian link baked into Joe’s fresh-made focaccia dough with pepperoni, marinara, and creamy brick and pecorino-Romano cheeses, then topped with sautéed onions and peppers; served with side of mild Giardiniera (*This hot dog requires a slow hand but is worth the wait! Please allow for slightly longer service time.).

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.

Bring your favorite pooch to Morning Squeeze on August 26th.

Celebrate National Dog Day next Thursday at the popular breakfast & lunch spots locations in Scottsdale, Tempe & downtown Phoenix. Bring them by the restaurant for a free house-made biscuit or something else from the Tail Waggers menu. $.99 Mimosas for you, dog lovers.

Wine Tasting Wednesday Wine at The Mick

One of the best restaurants to open in 2020 is Scottsdale’s The Mick Brasserie & Bar and every Wednesday they host a tasting, usually wine, starting at 6 p.m. Chef Brent (check out my podcast with Brent) creates a special menu for the night and prices do vary week to week. Next Wed. Aug. 25th they’re doing a sake tasting, Sept. 1st- Chardonnays from around the world. Sept. 8th- South African wines, Sept. 15th– Winemaker from Smith/Deveraux Winery Sept. 22nd– Four Peaks Brewery. Visit their website for more information and to see their menu and other up-coming events.

The Buzz Eatery now open in Kierland Commons

After a soft opening in the spring the breakfast, lunch & early dinner spot is now open. Catch a “buzz” from their selection of coffee drinks, wine, cocktails & adult popsicles while enjoying bagels, acai bowls, baked goods, treats and more from their breakfast and all day menu. They open at 7 a.m. Mon. – Sat. & Sun at 8 a.m. and close daily at 7 p.m. For more information and to see the menu check out their website.

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row adds new dishes to the menu

The Gilbert location added 7 new dishes recently from new Executive Chef Dustin Cooke. Sweet Chili Cauliflower, Bourbon Glazed Wings, Truffle Mushroom Burger and Maple Almond Salmon are few of the rock star dishes.

FRANCINE celebrates its 1st anniversary with new cocktails

The French inspired Mediterranean restaurant in the luxury wing of Scottsdale Fashion Square added new cocktails available through the Fall & Winter. The French Connection, an infused rum and St. Germain cocktail, Summer Thyme, uses a Silencio Mezcal base. Le Jardin combines Citadelle gin & yellow chartreuse San Remo is a premium whiskey-based cocktail and Archies Nightcap starts with Botanist Gin & Averna Amaro. All cocktails were created by bartenders Frank Soldano, Gage Myette, Trevyn StClair with the help of Executive Chef Brian ” Chef Archie” Archibald.

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.

PRONTO by Serrano’s to serve fast casual Mexican food later this year

This Fall the Serrano family will be debuting their new fast casual concept PRONTO by Serrano’s at their Tempe location. Known for serving Mexican food at several east valley restaurants since 1979 they decided to convert that location since it’s been closed for the last year for re-modeling.

“We’ve learned a lot over the past two years and we know that fast-casual concepts have experienced significant recent growth,” said Ric Serrano, CEO of Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants. “Our Pronto concept will offer customers fresh, quality ingredients at an affordable price. We hope our loyal customers embrace Pronto and that we gain some new fans as well.”

With a focus on “fresh, flavorful and familiar,” Pronto will offer build-your-own combos featuring burritos, tacos, nachos, salads and more. Favorite Serrano staples like machaca, shredded chicken, asada steak, tomatillo pork and more will be offered. And customers will also be able to add the famous Serrano’s bean dip, chips and salsa to their orders if desired.

“With our customizable menu options, our customers will have an array of meal options to choose from that are served up fast just the way they like it,” Serrano added. “With Arizona State University a few miles up the road and numerous local businesses and busy families in the area, the fast-casual concept should be appealing to both our lunch and dinner crowds.”

PRONTO by Serrano’s will be looking to hire 20 employees in the coming months for all positions in front & back of the house. Be the first to find out about hiring, the grand opening and more head to their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. When opened it will be at 6440 S. Rural Rd. Tempe.

Valley Coffee Co. to offer coffee, craft beers and all day eats

The valley’s crowded coffee scene will get a little more crowded when Valley Coffee Co. opens for business at Portland St. and Central Ave. The pet friendly coffee shop welcomes local residents and visitors to stay and enjoy not only the food and drinks but the art from local artists.

“Valley Coffee Co. has a little something for everyone whether stopping in on the way to work or relaxing with friends and family after a long day,” says Owner Donny Peper, an NAU graduate who grew up in the Valley and resides in the neighborhood. “We’re proud to work with local vendors to feature the best of Arizona food and drink, and we can’t wait to welcome our neighbors and new friends.”

Valley Coffee Co. sources their coffee from Flagstaff’s Firecreek Coffee Roasters and offer local craft beers, kombucha and wines. Light bites and snacks from Scottsdale’s Squarz Bakery include pastries & baked goods and meat pies. Specialty coffee blends, mushroom jerky, gourmet treats and merchandise are available on the shelves for purchase. Artlink Phoenix curated art features the people, places and things found around Phoenix.

Day to day operations and customer satisfaction will be overseen by manager Jace Musfelt who is hiring and those interested can send an email to dt@valley-coffee.com  for more information. Valley Coffee Co. is at 100 West Portland Street and open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. For more information visit their website.

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.