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.

 

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.

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.

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.

Grand Canyon Brewery & Distillery’s RTD are the states best selling

The William’s brewer & distiller started distilling Ready to Drink (RTD) in 2019 and in 2021 their the state’s largest producer of locally made RTD’s. Their current line-up includes Orange Blossom Vodka Soda, Prickly Pear Vodka Soda, Orange Blossom Vodka Mule, Cuba Libre and Gin & Tonic. Look for them at Safeway & Total Wine. For more information see their website or check Beer Finder to find out where to get them.

Best of Downtown Tempe stroll happening Saturday Aug. 28th

Foodies can spend Saturday afternoon strolling Mill Ave. and the surrounding neighborhood’s best restaurants tasting & sipping on food & drinks. From 1 – 5 p.m. over 15 restaurants have created special dishes for the day for between $8-$10. Several locally owned specialty retailers are also participating. To get your $5 access pass and more information visit their website.

Bandanas for Humane Society at Z’Tejas this weekend

The southwestern cuisine restaurant with a location in Scottsdale & Chandler is supporting National Dog Day all weekend selling special dog bandanas. Each bandana is $15 and proceeds are being donated to the animal friendly non-profit.

Blue Adobe Grille taken over by Vicino’s Local Italian, will close for quick re-model

The Santa Fe style restaurant open since 2000 looks to be now owned by the owners of the nearby popular Italian restaurant. Vicino’s says Blue Adobe will be closing Monday August 30th and re-opening for dinner on Friday September 3rd after new floors, walls and kitchen equipment are installed. A new drink list and more advantageous happy hour menu coming soon after.

The Prime Rib prix-fixe is back at Paul Martin’s American Grill

Every Monday – Wednesday get 3 courses of seasonal house salad, slow roasted prime rib & chocolate cake for only $39.95 at the Scottsdale restaurant. To make a reservation follow this link.

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.

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week launches mid-September

Two of the valley’s vegan advocates have come together to launch the first Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week September 12th- 18th. Chef & author Jason Wyrick and vegan taste maker and owner of Phoenix Vegan Jozh Watson launched the week long culinary event to bring more attention to plant- based restaurants, foods & cooking.

According to Wyrick, “Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week is a celebration of plant-based cuisine in Phoenix. We want to raise awareness about everything vegan that’s now available in our city, get everyone excited, and out-and-about trying all of the great dining options.”

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week
Simon’s Hot Dogs. Feature photo Maya’s Cajun Cuisine’s Po’ Boy

How Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week works?

The pair are encouraging restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, food trucks and others to showcase their plant-based cooking and more. During the week participants will be offering a specially created menu with breakfast & lunch offering at $20 and a 3-course dinner menu at $30.

“We want to position Greater Metro Phoenix as a premier, inclusive dining destination,” said Watson.

During the week diners can experience the growing Phoenix plant-based food scene visiting new establishments or returning to familiar ones. A a few of the participating eateries include: Beaut Burger, Brunch & Sip, Chilte, Dilla Libre, Early Bird Vegan, Earth Plant-Based, Giving Tree Café, Ground Control, Hot Sauce & Pepper, Maya’s Cajun Kitchen, Pachamama, Positively Frosted, Salvadoreno Restaurant, Shameless Burger, Simon’s Hot Dogs, The Nile Coffee Shop, Urban Beans Café, Tesoro Vegano, The Vegan Taste, Verdura, and Wok this Way.

According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are experimenting more with vegan cuisine and showcasing some really great offerings. Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week allows them to cater to a growing clientele and test the waters for expanding their vegan selections.” For more information and to see additional participants head to 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.

Macayo’s Mexican Food returns to Scottsdale with new location

The 75 year old restaurant has opened its newest location at Loop 101 & Shea Blvd in Pima Crossing. Known for such dishes as Green Chile Pork Stew & Chicken Poblano the menu is the same as the other locations around the valley.

Summer Supper is back on the menu at Marcellino’s Ristorante

From now until Sunday September 15th guests can opt for the 3-course meal for $44. Several choices from the Antipasto and Second Course menu that include homemade pasta.

Their private dining room is available on Tuesday’s through July and Tuesday & Wednesday’s in August for dinner and a movie. Parties of 8-10 people can reserve the room at no cost but dinner service is required. Call 480-990-9500 to make a dinner reservation or to reserve the room.

Elote Pizza back by popular demand at Fired Pie

All 21 locations of the locally owned fast casual pizza concept has brought back the street corn inspired and topped pizza (and more toppings) for a limited time. The pizza can be made with tradition, cauliflower & gluten-free dough.

Summer cool down seasonal menu at Thirsty Lion Gastropub

The Phoenix area’s 4 locations will start serving the new dishes from July 8th – September 19th. Spicy Shrimp Ceviche and Seared Atlantic Sea Scallops are a couple of the new dishes. Cocktails including Raspberry Mint Mule-jito and Jalapeno Paloma Margarita are a couple of the new adult beverages available.

July 4th celebrations around Phoenix

As you can imagine many Phoenix restaurants and bars are celebrating the red, white & blue with traditional foods, beers and more. Have fun and stay safe. Happy birthday America.

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.

Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen opens 6th location

Arizona and family -owned Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen opened its newest restaurant in Gilbert with a limited schedule. Currently opened Thursday – Sunday the new location will gradually open on other days in the coming weeks. Picazzo’s originally started in Sedona serving organic and healthy pizzas, salads and other Italian specialties but in the years since have grown to include the flavors of Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican ingredients.

“We can’t wait to welcome the Gilbert community to Picazzo’s!” says Picazzo’s Operations Manager, Chris Disney. It’s our pleasure to offer a variety of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and allergy-friendly items. Families can enjoy a meal at Picazzo’s and get their favorite dishes, whether they have special dietary needs or preferences or not. We’ve actually had guests cry with happiness when they realize they can order exactly what they want, how they want it!”

The menu in Gilbert is the same as the other locations and includes 95% organic ingredients for its pizzas, pastas, entrees, salads and more. Guests will notice a new modern look that will be rolled out to the other restaurants in the future.  A separate vegan menu is available using plant- based ingredients from Follow Your Heart, Daiya and Beyond Meat.

Picazzo’s new modern look

The restaurant’s spacious 4,300 square feet includes a roll-up garage door connecting the indoors and outdoors. “We thought a lot about our consumer when designing the new restaurant,” explains Disney. “That means creating a space that can accommodate solo diners and couples just as easily as large families. We also focused on selecting aesthetically pleasing textures and surfaces on everything from countertops to walls to the patio decking. We think our guests are going to love the experience here – and we hope they take advantage of the Instagram-worthy setting for taking photos with family and friends!”

Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen is at 884 E. Williams Field Rd. Gilbert 85295 with the other locations in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Tempe/Chandler, Arrowhead and Sedona. To find the location closest to you and to view the menu, visit 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.

Raise your glass for National Wine Day

If you’re a regular wine drinker May 25th is just another Tuesday to you. If you occasionally enjoy a glass of wine then you may want to celebrate the fruit of the vine at these local establishments. LDV Winery is offering $2 wine flights all day, Pita Jungle offers a bottle of its private label Jungle Vino for only $13 or $5 a glass. Other restaurants and retailers celebrating with wine features from around the world include The Wine Store, Zinqué, CRUjiente Tacos, The Italian Daughter & The Sicilian Butcher.

Romeo’s Euro Cafe moves 3rd Tuesday dinner to next week

The monthly 3-course dinner paired with wines had to get bumped back a week this month to Tuesday May 25th. Halloumi Salad and Paesano (veal shoulder & Italian sausage marinara) & and dessert wind out the menu. Check their Facebook page for more details and how to reserve your seat.

Barro’s Pizza hiring 400 people in Tucson & Phoenix

The family owned restaurant with 44 locations (soon to be 46) is hiring counter help, cooks and most importantly delivery drivers. For more information and to apply visit their website.

$.75 Margarita de Macayo to celebrate 75 years

Macayo’s continue celebrate their 75th anniversary in 2021. Wednesday May 26th all locations invites guests who dine-in can to get 2 margaritas for less than a dollar each.

Arizona Restaurant Week is here

Tonight through Sunday the 30th dine at your favorite restaurant or visit a new one for a specially created 3 course menu for $33 or $44. To see the full list of participating restaurants from around Arizona and their menus visit 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.

Marcellino Ristorante hosting Learn & Lunch cooking classes

Home chefs looking to hone their skills at cooking authentic Italian food can reserve their seats at the downtown Scottsdale restaurant. Chef Marcellino offers his next monthly cooking class on Saturday, April 17th. The 2 hour class will teach you to prepare his signature ravioli with spinach and ricotta cheese. Seats are limited and are $50++ and include lunch. May 15th is the next class making Pollo Saparito and on June 19th its Pasta Ghiotonna. Classes are from 1 – 3 p.m. and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant at 480-990-9500.

Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict at Morning Squeeze for a limited time

Egg Benedict fans can celebrate National Eggs Benedict Day next Friday April 16th at any 3 of the restaurant locations. A specially made Pulled Pork Benedict will be available for only 3 days next weekend. Always on the menu is the Classic Benedict, Cali Benedict & Salmon Benedict.

Doggie Date Night at Daily Dose Midtown

Grab your favorite canine and head to the restaurant at Highland & 20th St on the 3rd Thursday of the month. Next Thursday the 15th from 3 – 9 p.m. well behaved dogs and their owners are invited to the patio for all natural dog treats from Dogs Eating Cake and special menu for their owners. A portion of the proceeds from the night will be donated to the Arizona Humane Society. Reservations are needed and can be made by calling 602-274-0334. Circle these dates for the next Doggie Date Night…..May 20th & June 17th.

Community Blend coffee benefits local schools districts

Press Coffee Roasters announced that the proceeds from its Community Blend coffee beans will be donated 6 K-8 school districts in neighborhoods where there is a Press location. In-store purchases only and Community Blend is available until May 16th.

Brazil is on the map for Match Market & Bar’s Passport Series

No need to pack your bags just head to the downtown Phoenix restaurant tomorrow night (Saturday April 10th) for some South American flavor and culture. The trip is from 6 – 10 p.m. and is $15 per person with exotic cocktail included. For more information head to their website.

 

Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce rolls out #ScottsdaleCarryOutChallenge

Supporting local restaurants (and all businesses) continues to be a focal point in 2021 as the Coronavirus continues to take its toll on people’s health and local economies. The Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce is supporting its local member restaurants with its new “Scottsdale Carry-Out Challenge”.

It’s pretty simple, order carry-out from a member restaurant in February on this list and post a picture social media. Tag the restaurant, the Chamber and #ScottsdaleCarryOutChallenge to be entered in a weekly contest for member restaurant $100 gift cards. Tag 2 friends and challenge them to get take-out and encourage them to tag to friends and so on. With the Super Bowl this weekend and Valentine’s Day coming up why not take-out a try to win a gift card for future visits.

There are 81 member restaurants in the Scottsdale Chamber for every taste and price point, recently opened and old favorites to choose from. Check back weekly to see which new restaurants has joined the Chamber. Follow the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.