Dolce Vita dishes up weekly Italian region specials

Fabrizio Cali the owner of Mesa’s Dolce Vita never thought he’d own the restaurant he’d been hired by the owners to help find a buyer for. What started as a gelato shop in an unassuming strip mall at Brown & Higley Rds. has become an Italian market and “trattoria” selling imported Italian meats, chesses and serving authentic dishes. Don’t worry the award-winning gelato is shop is still there.  He considers Dolce Vita a “trattoria” as in Italy their not as fancy as a full service restaurant with servers doing more than serve including building sandwiches and slicing meats behind the refrigerates cases filled with Italian delicacies. Service is laid back not hovering and checking on guests every few minutes as there is no rush for guests to leave just linger and enjoy as quickly or slowly as you like. Prepping ingredients and hot meals are prepared in the kitchen with his chefs who have worked for him for several years.

Born in Palermo, Cali grew up mostly Milan and became an online video game producer before becoming a consultant and restaurant owner. He has roots all over Italy with his maternal grandmother from Modena in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region of northeast Italy and his father from the southern region of Calabria. It is for this reason that he’s showcasing all 20 regions of Italy with a weekly special. “I am happy to show the Valley a sliver of my Italian culture,” said Cali. “There is so much more to Italian cuisine than what we typically see, and I want everyone to be able to try something they haven’t had before.”

Also on the menu is pizza and dishes from his native Sicily including Aracine & Caponata, the cooked eggplant salad. By authentic Cali means no chicken parmigiana, no Alfredo or carbonara Americans have come to love. Why? Those dishes aren’t authentic Italian dishes he says in the way we expect them here.

Weekly specials at Dolce Vita

March 14-19: Valdostana- Thin, pan-seared veal cutlets, prosciutto, and fontina cheese fried in a butter sauce

21-26: Bagna Cauda- A warm garlic anchovy dip served in a fondue-style warming bowl with bread and mixed vegetables   

28-April 2: Trofie al Pesto- Trofie pasta (an elongated curly pasta shape) with Genovese pesto            

April 4-9: Pizzoccheri- Buckwheat flour pasta, butter, potatoes, cubes of Fontina cheese and savoy cabbage

 11-16: Risi e Bisi- Venetian rice and peas with prosciutto  

18-23: Canederli- Bread dumplings with speck (cured, lightly smoked ham)

25-30: Frico- A thin layer of baked, grated cheese with potato served as a snack, garnish or appetizer

May 2-7: Tagliatelle Ragu Bolognese- A beef and sofrito tomato sauce tossed with Tagliatelle pasta, a traditional long and flat pasta shape made with eggs   

9-14: Pici all’Aglione- A pasta dish tossed with chili peppers and tomato-garlic sauce

16-21: Arrosticini- Grilled lamb skewers                                      

May 30-June 4: Saltimbocca-Thin veal cutlets topped with prosciutto and sage

June 6-11: Vincisgrassi- Similar to lasagna, it is hand-rolled pasta with ragu meat sauce

13-18: Cavatelli con Broccoli- Small pasta shells tossed with garlic and broccoli

20-25: Pasta alla Norcina- Creamy pasta with sausage, cream and white wine       

June 27-July 2: Frittata di Spaghetti- Spaghetti baked into an egg frittata

July 4-9: Cutturiddi- A light lamb stew           

11-16: Orecchiette Cime di Rapa- Orecchiette pasta with olive oil, garlic, chiles, anchovies and turnip greens

18-23: Pipi Chini- Peppers stuffed with breadcrumbs, anchovies, garlic and capers

25-30: Pasta alla Norma- Pasta with sauteed eggplant tossed with tomato sauce and ricotta salata     

August 1-6: Fregola con Gamberi- A creamy pearl pasta cooked with shellfish stock and topped with prawns

Dolce Vita is at 5251 East Brown Rd. #104. The shop is open from noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. The restaurant hours are noon to 2 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. on Sundays. For more information see their website.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Saturday’s Laveen BBQ returns to Caesar Chavez Park

Over 100 vendors including BBQ pit masters and artists will be on hand at the 71st Annual Laveen BBQ tomorrow February 25th from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission and parking is free with food and drinks sold separately.  The Laveen Community Council hosts the annual event that brings the community together for food and fun. The money raised stays in the community supporting local non-profits.

AZ Women in Food celebrate Women’s History Month

Thursday March 2nd will be an evening of women in the food and beverage industry with food, wine, cocktails and a good time in downtown Phoenix. Farish House hosts Gold. Glamour. Gourmet from 5 – 9 p.m. with tickets $95 at Tock.

GenuWine Arizona pouring Dos Cabeza wines March 3rd

Drop in to the downtown Phoenix wine bar next Friday night to sample wines from this celebrated Arizona winery. The tasting is free for those 21 and over and bottles will be 20% off that night.

Chompie’s is baking Hamantaschen for Purim

All 4 Phoenix area locations are getting an early start to the festive holiday on Tuesday, February 27th offering the baked delicacy. Raspberry, apricot, prune and poppy will be available through March 7th when the two day holiday ends.

Truland Burger offers Beer Cheese Pub Burger for a limited time

Just in time for Spring the downtown Chandler location adds a new burger to the menu. Get a hefty stack of two Niman Ranch all-natural beef patties, including our house-made beer cheese, all-natural bacon, crispy onions and a sweet-savory bacon jam for $14.50. Order it online or in person at 140 N Arizona Ave #100
Chandler, AZ 85225.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Little Pickle NY style deli pop-up opens at The Esplanade

A taste of New York has popped up serving deli sandwiches, pastries, lox and more for breakfast and lunch for a limited time. The Little Pickle is from Merc Bar owner Rick Phillips and friend celebrity chef Aaron May. Phillips missed Jewish deli food found in such New York delis Katz’s and Zabar’s so he and May got to work to open one on a small scale and for a limited time.

Phillip’s taught himself to how to make smoked salmon and would serve flown in bagels with his homemade lox to friends and family and the Little Pickle was born. Named for what Phillip’s mother would call him growing up he thought it would be great name for a deli and has since passed on the nickname to his daughter.

On the menu at the Little Pickle

“Perfecting our recipes and opening Little Pickle has helped bring tastes of NYC to the Valley.” says May who joined his fellow east coaster in making a pastrami palace. During breakfast guests can expect perfectly prepared smoked salmon and a bagel, Challah French Toast, blintzes, overnight oatmeal and chia seed pudding. For lunch the mouth-watering Pastrami Reuben is the go to sandwich along with over 10 other sandwiches and fixins’. Scratch made Matzoh ball soup will be served during the winter and pan fried latkes are also a hit with customers.

“We are thrilled to have the Little Pickle pop-up open at the Esplanade expanding our options for breakfast and lunch for tenants and visitors,” said Robert Marino, Vice President of Asset Management for Tourmaline Capital Partners. “Passionate operators with chef driven concepts translates to great food and the partners we want to work with to continue to build an amenity rich environment here at the Esplanade.”

The Little Pickle is open through Passover (September) Monday- Friday from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. with coffee and pastries available after 2 p.m. Catering is also available for meetings, family gathering or any group function. For more information and to view the menu visit their website.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Valentine’s Day under the stars with TLC eXperience

If you haven’t made you plans for next Tuesday, February 14th seats are still available for the 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception followed by 3 course dinner. The Orchard at Agritopia hosts the locally sourced menu curated by Chef Tom and his culinary team. Seats are by reservation only and are $180 per person or $360 per couple. To view the menu and reserve you seats visit their website.

It’s a Schmoozetacular weekend in Scottsdale

The downtown Scottsdale coffee shop/cafe celebrates golf & football all weekend long.  Get 15% off all Bloody Mary’s and cocktail flights Fri, Sat & Sun. when you use promo code CHEERS15. Enjoy Schmooze after dark Friday & Saturday nights from 4 -10 p.m. and there is a Super Bowl Watch Party with light bites and cocktails on Sunday from 4-9 p.m.

New “Level Up” menu at Los Sombreros

Guests visiting the Mesa, Scottsdale and Phoenix Mexican restaurants can now experience new dishes to the menu. Enjoy The Molcajete features lobster, shrimp, chorizo and snow crab in a spicy broth. Beer battered Lobster Tacos, Wagyu Asada and Lamb Adobo also make up the new dishes.

Dirty Dough opens north Phoenix location

The Tempe cookie maker who mantra is “it’s what’s on the inside that counts,” has opened its newest location in The District at Desert Ridge Marketplace. One of a kind cookies with unique flavor profiles updates its cookie menu every Friday. Current favorites are Monster Mash, Candy Bar and Kitchen Sink cookies are available.

February specials at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants

All 4 locations are serving up a margarita, entree and dessert specials all month long.

Rio Margarita: A house favorite since 2011, this handmade margarita is made with Hornitos Tequila, Hiram Walker Orange Curacao, lime juice and Agave triple sec. $9.99

Al Pastor Chicken Platter: Al pastor grilled chicken paired with fajita veggies, fried potatoes and a stuffed Anaheim pepper and served with a side of guacamole, roasted chipotle salsa and house-made tortillas. Choice of a cup of chicken tortilla soup or house salad to start.  $19.99

Strawberry Shortcake: Layered with vanilla sponge cake, strawberry puree and strawberry cheese cake, and topped with whipped cream and graham cracker crumble. $7.99

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

“Med Meets Mexico” seasonal menu now at Pita Jungle

All 23 locations in Arizona now offer new 10 dishes on their Seasonal Crafts Kitchen Menu. Dishes using the flavors of the Southwest and their Mediterranean inspired menu will be available through April. Highlights of the new menu include Lemon Chicken Rice Soup, Mediterranean Ceviche, Labdeh Dip Mezze Veggies & Dip and a Wood Fired Gluten Free Enchilada. 

Orin Swift Wine Dinner at Palo Verde Restaurant

The signature restaurant at The Boulders Resort & Spa hosts a gourmet four-course dinner paired with wines on Friday, February 3rd with the reception starting at 6:00 p.m. Enhancing the experience will be the scenic views of the golf course’s 6th hole and duck pond. Seats are $175 per person and reservations can be made by calling 480-595-4621.

Cider Corps hosts dinner to raise money for traumatic brain injuries

The downtown Mesa cidery will pair its award-winning ciders with dishes from valley chefs Friday, February 3rd. Guests attending the Speakers Dinner for Traumatic Brain Injury Solutions will hear updates from researchers at Cohen Veterans Bioscience. The 21 and over dinner starts at 6 P.m. and is %200 per person. Two other fundraising events are scheduled for the 22 Jumps event with more information and to RSVP click here.

New seasonal dishes at Over Easy launch January 30th

The locally owned and nationally recognized breakfast spot adds two new dishes to its menu on Monday. The scratch made Cinnamon Apple Corncakes ($14) and JohnJay Burrito Bowl ($17) are available for dine-in, take-out or delivery. $1 of every Burrito Bowl will be donated #LOVEPUP Foundation. Also new will be the Spicy Mango Margarita ($8) but only available for dine-in. The new dishes and drink are available at all 11 Phoenix area locations.

Nominations are open for Foodist Awards until February 5th

Its award season and time to nominate your favorite Food & Beverage, Experience, Restaurant and People in the Arizona Restaurant Association’s annual recognition of those in the food and beverage community. The online nominations include 20 categories and 8 new categories for the 2023 awards. Winner will be announced in alive ceremony on Monday April 24th at 5:30 p.m. at The Van Buren in Phoenix.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

Free bowl of menudo on New Year’s Day

All 35 Food City locations in Arizona celebrate National Menudo Month and National Hangover Day January 1st 2023 with a free bowl of menudo. The popular hangover remedy is available from 9-11 a.m. in the deli for dine-in only.

Famous 48 now serving lunch & weekend brunch

The standalone restaurant in the Shops at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale is now serving lunch 7 days a week starting at 11 a.m. Saturday & Sunday brunch starts at 10:30 a.m. until 3:00p.m.

Sunday Funday taco specials at Urban Margarita

Every Sunday from 1:30 p.m. til closing the Glendale restaurant has street tacos for only $2 each. Choose from grilled steak, chicken or carnitas and don’t forget the margarita to wash them down.

Batch Cookie Shop coming to Queen Creek in 2023

The family owned cookie shop in Gilbert announced its second location will be coming to Queen Creek this summer. It will be in front of the new Costco at Rittenhouse and Ellsworth Rds. More details will be available as they get closer to opening day.

OpenTable names local restaurants Top 100 Restaurants in America in 2022

Steak 44, Ocean 44 and Dominick’s Steakhouse in Phoenix and Scottsdale have been named to the prestigious list. All 3 restaurants are owned by father and sons Dennis, Michael & Jeff Mastro and partner Scott Trolio. The list is curated from over 13 million customer reviews on the website from October 31st 2021- September 30th 2022. Also making the list from Arizona is Mariposa in Sedona and The Henry in Phoenix.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Sips & Bites: News from the Phoenix restaurant community

Events & news about what’s going on around the Phoenix restaurant community, breweries and wineries.

High praise for Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion from Gayot Guide

Christopher Gross is no stranger to racking up accolades over the years for his cooking and restaurant’s experience. He can now add being named one of the “Best Restaurant’s in the U.S.” and “Most Memorable Meals of 2022” from Gayot- Guide to the Good Life to his resume. Sophie Gayot gave Christopher’s at Wrigley Mansion an 18/20 score for his French/ Contemporary cuisine.

Gayot says “During my soirée at the 32-seat restaurant, my head spun at each of the modern French cuisine dishes presented to the table. There is no show, no eccentricity, just perfectly calibrated and balanced execution.”

Bubbles wine tasting at GenuWine Arizona

Just in time to toast the New Year the downtown Phoenix wine bar hosts a tasting on Thursday, December 29th from 6- 8 p.m. 4 sparkling wines will be tasted for $10 with 20% off any bottles purchased that evening. Tickets are available here.

New Year’s Eve and Day at Ghost Ranch

The Tempe restaurant is offering its NYE Chef Series Menu on a first come, first serve basis until it sells out. The four course dinner offers chicken, seafood & Wagyu NY Strip before dessert. New Year’s Day enjoy specials on Bloody Maria’s, Birria Tacos & Burritos.

B & B Cocktail Lounge now serving weekend brunch

You can now check out weekend brunch from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the new lounge that opened earlier this year in Old Town Scottsdale. Bacon Steak & Eggs, B & B Breakfast Fries are included on the gourmet menu. You can even “Build Your Own” Avocado Toast with 25 toppings to choose from. For the sweet side there is Bourbon Coffee Cake, Sweets Board with fruit, bacon and sweet garnish.

Of course brunchy cocktails are served including Breakfast Bee, a bourbon-infused milky play on Honey Nut Cheerios, a Mimosa Flight with 9 juice options and Lemon Basil Squeeze with Haku Vodka, Chandon Rosé, lemon juice and more.

Hundred Mile Brewing releasing its first beers

The newly opened Tempe brewery started releasing its own beers the past couple of weeks. New beers include Natural Blonde Ale, Pinetop Pilsner, Infinite Coyote a West Coast IPA, Crowd Surfer a Mexican style lager and Desert Neon hazy IPA.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Ring in 2023 at these local restaurants

As we approach New Year’s Eve plans are being made about how to ring in 2023. These local restaurants are planning specially prepared dinners and as you can imagine reservations are necessary. Click on the restaurants link for more information and to make a reservation.

FRANCINE RestaurantEnjoy a French inspired menu with a Mediterranean twist for a five course meal with seating’s between 7 – 9 p.m. A DJ and champagne toast at midnight is included all for $225 per person. Go online or call 480-690-6180.

Phoenix City GrilleDinner starts at 3 p.m. with specials and the regular menu.

Hearth ’61–  A four-course dinner with first seating at 6:30 p.m $159, $199 for a 9:30 reservation. Reservations can be made by calling 480-624-5458.

ZuzuJoin the party with noshing stations, drinks and more for $150, reserve a VIP table for two for $500 or rent out the Rosie Room for up to 16 people for $4,000. The evening starts at 8 p.m. and a DJ starts entertaining at 9. Call 480-421-7997 for reservations.

Keeler’s Neighborhood SteakhouseThe Fourth Annual New Year’s Eve Gala starts at 6 p.m. with dinner buffet, live music & more for $135+ per person. Phone reservations only by calling 602-374-4784.

Thirsty Lion GastropubAll 4 Phoenix area location ring in 2023 special a la carte food and cocktails ranging from $8.95-$39.95.

Match Market & BarDinner is served from 6 p.m.- 11 then join the “Come On Barbie Let’s Go Party New Year’s Eve Party” in the Found:RE Hotel. Barbie’s Food Truck will be there with food for purchase from 11 p.m. – 2 a.m. Reservations for dinner in Match can be made by calling 602-875-8080 and for Barbie’s Party click on the link above.

STK SteakhouseAn a la carte menu featuring Japanese Wagyu, caviar, Australian Wagyu and more is available starting on Friday, December 30th. On NYE enjoy a champagne toast at midnight, live DJ and weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday morning.

Rusconi’s American KitchenStarting a 5 p.m. enjoy a three course prix-fixe menu from Executive Chef Michael Rusconi. Dinner is $90++ per person and reservations can be made online or by calling 480-403-0009.

Roaring ForkA special Steak & Lobster dinner starts at 4 p.m. along with seasonal menus items available on only on NYE. Steak & Lobster is $68 and prices vary on other menu items. Call 480-947-0795 to make a reservation or go online.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

New Camelback Smokers coming to Joe’s Real BBQ

After 25 years in Downtown Gilbert’s Joe’s Real BBQ is undergoing an expansion to offer guests a better experience. The biggest change is the addition of two Camelback Smokers to enhance the flavors of their signature smoked meats. The restaurant will continue using its three Oyler BBQ pits and its Ferris wheel type smoker with racks.

“Camelback Smokers allow for ideal air flow during the smoking process, which really helps bring out the flavor of the meats,” says Joe Johnston, owner of Joe’s Real BBQ. “With more smoke particles flowing over the meat and getting embedded throughout the cook, guests will enjoy a delicious crispy bark and tender, juicy meat. We always strive for customer satisfaction and we are really excited to further improve the food we are serving our guests and the experience they have with us from start to finish.”

Guests will have full view of the new smokers and meats from a fenced off area outside the restaurant. Other changes to the restaurant will help maximize efficiency and keep costs down at the restaurant. A second carving and dish-up line, a to-go window and an additional door for catering are being added. Almost half of Joe’s business has been from take-out and catering since the start of Covid-19. The expansion will help the kitchen meet and exceed demand and will be completed in January 2023.

Check out my podcast Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

Cloud kitchen helps Chesapeake Bay Bistro to expand

Nowadays if you can figure out a successful recipe for running a restaurant the best way to maximize your potential is through expansion. That’s exactly what’s going on at Chesapeake Bay Bistro a year and half after opening in Ahwatukee. Unlike their brick and mortar location the owners opted to open their new location in a cloud kitchen inside the Tempe Food Court earlier this month. They’re not stopping there as third location will also be in a cloud kitchen in their former hometown of San Diego in January 2023.

“For restaurant owners, the past year has been challenging with staffing, higher prices for food supplies and rising costs for rent and utilities,” says James Brown, who co-owns the Ahwatukee-based bistro with his wife, Yolanda. “Adding locations through a food-court style expansion makes sense on many levels.”

Expansion into a cloud kitchen

Working in a cloud kitchen also gives them the opportunity to open new concepts without all the expenses of a brick and mortar location. That’s why the couple is planning to open a Creole/Cajun concept out of Tempe in 2023. Another reason for the expansion into cloud kitchens is CBB is seeing a lot of take-out from their Ahwatukee location.

“We believe that the food delivery model is the future and allows us to fulfill our customer base request,” said Brown said. “Sixty percent of our sales are call in or pickup now.” CBB works with several food delivery services to deliver the hot and fresh seafood dishes for delivery within 15 minutes.

To help alleviate some of the staffing issues of the past few years, the couple’s three grown sons have joined them in restaurants. One son will be running the new San Diego location in the Aztec Food Hub near the San Diego State University campus. The other two sons help out when mom and dad can’t be at the Ahwatukee location.

“Using cloud kitchen locations benefits small mom-and-pop restaurants like ours in several ways, allowing us to keep our labor and maintenance costs down,” Brown said.

The Tempe Food Court location is at 1900 E. 5th St. 85281, not far from the ASU campus and Tempe Marketplace. The Ahwatukee location is at 5033 E. Elliot Rd. Phoenix 85044. For more information visit their website or to order for delivery or takeout check out the delivery services.

 

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