“Chopped” champion Chef Nick LaRosa has a new menu at Nook Kitchen

Arcadia’s Nook Kitchen has re-opened this week with a new menu from Chef Nick LaRosa. The restaurant moved to a new larger location along Indian School Road in December and was humming along as it did at the old location when Covid- 19 broke out. They did take out until several nearby restaurants were hit with the virus and owner Frank Vairo and partners decided to close for the summer.

Nicholas Winger, managing partner, said: “We can’t wait to welcome back our guests.  We are operating with limited-seating and dining socially distanced due to pandemic regulations, so we encourage reservations, especially with our small dining room. It fills up quickly.”

What’s on the menu from Chef Nick LaRosa

With the opening comes a new menu of Italian favorites with a modern twist from LaRosa. House made pastas and fresh ingredients are on the menu such as Casarecce Bolognese for meat lovers and Veggie Campanelle for vegetarians. Napolitano styled pizzas are still coming out of the pizza oven along with entrees such as pan-seared salmon, a double bone-in pork chop and the Nook Burger.

LaRosa was champion of the Food Network’s “Chopped” in 2017 and has earned other local accolades.

Chef Nick LaRosa
Aracini

“We’re excited and want to shout from the rooftops that ‘we’re back!’ ” LaRosa said. “And we’re really happy to be back, too.  The time off has given us the opportunity to add new menu items, plus fantastic desserts and still focus on the dishes we know our patrons love. “The specialness of our food is Italian with a twist.  If you want to eat hearty, we’ve got it.  If you’d rather eat light, we’ve got that too in spades.”

The menu also includes appetizers including Brussel Chips, Aracini and more. Exciting new desserts include a gelato flight from Cool Gelato and Nook’s version of Affogatto. Sommelier Matthew Wohleb has created a new and old world wine list to compliment the cuisine and mixoligist Gabe Chavez mixes up the cocktail program.

Nook Kitchen opens Wednesday thru Sunday at 5 p.m. and is at 4231 E. Indian School R. Phoenix 85018.

September brings the return of Arizona Restaurant Week

One of the most popular events among the Arizona restaurant community is Arizona Restaurant Week. The 10 day culinary event returns Friday September 18th – Sunday the 27th around the state. Like the June event participating restaurants will offer dine-in or take-out 3 course meals along with liquor to-go. According to the Arizona Restaurant Association almost 80 restaurants have already signed up to participate.

“We feel not only gratitude but also great pride in the fact that the local dining community has showed up again and again in support of our industry since closures and limited re-opening mandates,” says Arizona Restaurant Association President and CEO Steve Chucri. “We are thrilled to see that dining out — whether that means in-restaurant or getting take-out — is still such an important part of people’s lives.”

The modified event started to include take-out options due to the uncertainty of 2020’s Covid – 19 pandemic. Restaurants create 3-course menus for $33 or $44 per person for the September event with wine at an additional cost. Reservations are recommended for those looking to visit a new restaurant or return to a favorite one.

To see participating restaurants and menus head to the Arizona Restaurant Association’s website. The website is updated as new restaurants sign up.

Fried chicken dinner now on the menu at Salty Sow

The Salty Sow known for its meat focused menu recently introduced fried chicken dinners to its menu. Two family style dinners are offered for take out and four dinners on the dine in menu.

The Jumbo Chicken Tenders Dinner comes with their signature kale coleslaw & cowboy beans with a choice of a 6 piece (with two sauces) for $17, a 9 piece (with a choice of 3 sauces) for $24 or a 12 piece (with 4 sauces) for $29.  Their Southern Fried Chicken Dinner served with kale coleslaw and cowboy beans with 8 pieces of fried chicken bone-in for $26.00.

Dining in you can choose from…..

 

  • Tender Bites- 8 pieces of fried chicken, one sauce for $8
  • Jumbo Tenders- 3 piece, two sauces for $11
  • The O.G. Sandwich with chicken breast, mayonnaise, kale coleslaw, home-made pickles and French fries for $14
  • Southern Fried Chicken- 4 pieces, bone-in served with kale coleslaw for $18

Choose Sow Sauce, Honey Mustard, Ranch, Barbeque and Sweet Chili to compliment your meal. Guests looking to spice it up can choose to make their chicken “Nashville Hot” if desired.

Salty Sow is at 4801 E. Cactus Rd. Phoenix 85032. The restaurant opens for dinner daily at 4 p.m.

 

Kasai Japanese Steakhouse re-opens with a new look

When Kasai Japanese Steakhouse re-opens on Tuesday June 16th guests will notice a new look and a new streamlined menu. The highlight of the new look are 4 new hood-less teppanyaki tables, a first in Arizona. With the new tables the restaurant will have 14 tables to accommodate 146 people. Most tables are in the back of the restaurant but the new ones are in the front so all can see the fire and fun.

“We are thrilled to be able to give more of what everyone loves with the expansion of our highly successful teppanyaki program,” said owner, Mike Russello. “Our guests want that high-energy dining experience that they look forward to when they come to Kasai”. Included in the new look is a more open and inviting floor plan.

The Scottsdale restaurant has a new streamlined menu including thinly sliced Kasai Filet Carpaccio and the favorite Mongolian Lamb Chops. The teppanyaki menu offers over 50 dinners & combinations served in seven courses. The fun at the tables starts with the energetic chefs offering fresh made food & flare. New custom cocktails include Violet Solstice, made with Hendricks Mid-Summer Solstice Gin, Crème de Violette, and fresh lemon juice. The P. King cocktail (in honor of original owner Patrick King) is made with Toki Japanese whiskey, lychee liqueur, fresh lime juice & bitters.

Kasai Japanese Steakhouse serves dinner starting at 4 p.m. and happy hour from 4 – 6:30. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. & Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. Kasai is at 14344 N. Scottsdale Rd. For more information visit their website or Facebook page.

 

Compass Lounge & Restaurant welcomes new chef Brandon Drummond

Chef and new culinary director at the Hyatt Phoenix Brandon Drummond is no stranger to hotel life having worked for Hyatt Hotels around the country for the past 15 years. He come from the Hyatt in Greenwich, Connecticut to run the culinary team at Compass Lounge & Restaurant, Arizona’s only revolving rooftop restaurant.

The downtown hotel is finishing a multi-million dollar facelift and they’ve hired Drummond to re-vamp the menu at their signature restaurant. He brings his experience working in culinary management in the Hyatt family in Washington D.C., Bonita Springs Fla., New Orleans and San Antonio to his new role.

Both the lounge and restaurant will see new dishes including fresh seafood and regional ingredients. In the lounge guest will have the chance to order Buttermilk Fried Quail, a Charcuterie Board and more. The new menu includes Quick Cured Duck and Elk Chops in addition to other new dishes and longtime favorites.

New cocktails include the Strawberry Blonde made with Meyer lemon vodka, house made simple syrup and strawberries. The Bramble Rose mixes Maker’s Mark bourbon with house made rosemary simple syrup and blueberries.

Meet Chef Drummond when he participates in Plated and Staged at the Herberger Theater on Sunday March 29th. The annual fundraiser benefits for the theatre’s youth outreach program. The program exposes youths to culinary programs and the performing arts.

The Compass Lounge & Restaurant the Hyatt Phoenix is at 122 N. 2nd St. Phoenix 85004. Visit their website for more information.

Mastro’s City Hall Steakhouse debuts new look and menu

After being on the Scottsdale steakhouse scene for more than 15 years Mastro’s City Hall Steakhouse debuted a new look to the restaurant along with new Japanese beef dishes. The four month refresh was done after the restaurant was closed each night after dinner service. New lighting, art, flooring, furniture and live music area were updated and also included a new wine wall. The bar has a new bottle display above the bar and new lighting. The staff will don new uniforms and table side wine service is available. The fireplace on the patio received a new Mastro’s logo.

Mastro's City Hall Steakhouse
Wagyu & Kobe On A Stone

The new menu includes Japanese A5 Wagyu and Kobe beef. City Hall is one of two restaurants in Arizona to serve True Japanese Beef. The restaurant secured Kobe Association License to serve 100% Hyogo Prefecture Kobe Beef and A5 Kobe Beef from 100% Tajima Cattle, the most expansive beef in the world.

New dishes include Sliced A5 Japanese Wagyu and True Kobe Beef served on a Hot Stone, Wagyu Beef Sushi Roll, Spinalis Ribeye Gold Cap, Heart of the Rib Eye and Dover Sole.

Mastro's City Hall Steakhouse
Dover Sole

The restaurant expanded its wine list to include wines and spirits from around the world exclusively for Mastro’s City Hall.

Mastro’s City Hall Steakhouse is at 6991 E. Camelback Rd. Scottsdale 85251. For more information visit their website.

Macayo’s Patron Reposado Tequila now available in Mesa

Macayo’s Mexican Restaurants recently introduced their own barrel selected tequila along with new menu items. Macayo’s partnered with Patron to supply the restaurants the tequila aged in an Hungarian oak barrel for five months. Patron often partners with restaurants to supply their own barrel aged tequila. The Barrel Select Margarita ($11.59) uses the tequila at all locations and a bottle ($69.99) can be purchased at the Mesa location.

The restaurant also introduced new menu items along with returning favorite based on customer requests. Spinach con Queso ($5.99 cup, $8.99 bowl), Carne Asada Fries ($8.99), Harvest Chopped Salad ($10.99) and Armando’s Steak Dinner ($16.99) has debuted. Returning to the menu is the popular California Burro.

Also returning today is their popular Recipe Box filled with over 80 recipes from the last 70 years. The Recipe Box sells out quickly and makes a great gift for the upcoming holiday season. You can purchase a Recipe Box at any Macayo’s location or online for $40. For $20 you can purchase only the recipe cards included in the box.

To order your Recipe Box or find a Macayo’s location near you go to https://www.macayo.com/

Mediterranean diet favorite dishes return to Pita Jungle

For the last 25 years Pita Jungle has been serving up healthy Mediterranean diet inspired dishes. Many customers have their favorite’s over the years but they tend to come and go with seasons. As part of their Seasonal Kitchen Crafts Menu they’ve brought back many fan favorites from the past.

All 23 locations throughout Arizona are serving dishes with a balance of Mediterranean diet and global cuisine. The menu is popular with all dietary needs including keto, paleo, vegan and gluten-free. The seasonal menu will be available thru the rest of the year. Dishes include……

  • Cauliflower Hummus (V) – cauliflower, tahini, garlic, evoo, lemon juice, cucumbers, pita (gluten free with blue corn chips).
  • All Veggie Pita Pocket – avocado, baby greens, seasonal mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onion, sprouts, tabbouleh, lemon vinaigrette, in a pita pocket, severed with tahini (vegan with no tabbouleh, gluten-free with gluten-free pita upcharge).
  • Bone Broth Ramen with Shirataki Noodles (GF) – beef bone broth, with miso, kimchi, red onion, gluten-free soy sauce, garlic and ginger, shirataki noodles, spinach, green onions.
  • Ginger Stir Fry with Shirataki Noodles (GF) – stir-fried fresh vegetables and kimchi, shirataki noodles, spicy ginger sauce, beef bone broth, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, pea sprouts (vegan with no kimchi and no beef broth).

    Mediterranean
    Ginger Stir Fry with Shirataki Noodles
  • Wood-Fired Medchilada (GF) – savory garlic-cilantro chicken in a beef bone broth enchilada sauce, cheddar and feta, turmeric cauliflower rice, cabbage-kale super greens, fresh jalapenos, radish, pico de gallo, pine nuts, gluten-free pita.
  • Chicken Avocado Pita Tostada with Cauliflower Hummus – grilled and chopped marinated all-natural chicken breast, avocado, cilantro-avocado crema, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickled red onions, bell peppers, cauliflower hummus, feta, pine nuts, baby arugula, pea sprouts, chipotle vinaigrette, pita tostada or low-carb pita or gluten-free pita (vegetarian option without chicken.
  • Mediterranean Tuna Pita Pocket – albacore tuna, avocado, seasonal mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell pepper, red onion, tabbouleh, lemon vinaigrette, pea sprouts, in a pita pocket.
  • Baklawa Bread Pudding sweetened with stevia and agave syrup.

To find a Pita Jungle near you head to their website.

Castle Hot Springs re-opens with Harvest, serving crop driven cuisine

Arizona’s first luxury resort, Castle Hot Springs has re-opened for its first full season. Originally opened in 1896, the 210 acre property will be opened from October til late June offering guests the opportunity to detach from the digital world while rejuvenating and healing in the resorts 120 degrees thermal hot springs. Hiking, horseback riding, foraging and star gazing are a few of the many activities guests can enjoy at the iconic resort and its surrounding desert and mountains.

Harvest, Castle Hot Springs signature restaurant

Castle Hot Springs is home to Harvest, the signature restaurant and farm offering crop driven cuisine. Executive chef Christopher Brugman’s menu rotates daily based on what’s available at the resorts one acre farm. The farm and greenhouse are overseen by resident agronomist Ian Berger. He oversees over 150 fruits and vegetables native to the desert along with the properties groves that are home to 36 types of citrus trees. Included in the farm are over 35 varieties of heirloom tomatoes.

Working together Brugman and Berger choose ripe fruit and vegetables for each days menu. What they don’t grow they  get from local vendors to fill in the gaps. Harvest also adheres to zero waste and sustainable guidelines. Guests can participate in daily foraging and learn about “flavor farming” that covers the sweet and savory tastes through a foods color. Dishes such as Coconut Carrot Bisque and Tandoori Octopus Grilled over Juniper Wood have been on the menu. The culinary team also has an in-house pickling program and creates concoctions such as Brugman’s Onion Ash.

Food & Beverage Manager and Sommelier Thomas Burris has created a beverage program to complement Brugman’s cuisine. Signature cocktails such as the Trade Secret and Lady & The Tramp also use ingredients sourced from the property. Trade Secret is made with rosemary infused vodka, Elderflower and pink grapefruit. The savory Lady & The Tramp combine Pecorino Romano infused vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and fresh basil leaves. Castle Springs Lithium Lager is made exclusively for Harvest and uses natural elements of the resorts hot springs.

The resort is at 5050 E. Castle Hot Springs Rd. Castle Hot Springs AZ. 85342. For more information and to make a reservation head to their website.

New menu and new look as a re-vamped Zuzu re-opens

Hotel Valley Ho’s Zuzu is back open after getting a new look and menu. Hotel guests and locals will notice the restaurant’s new mid-century modern look is in-line with the hotels 1950’s style. Designed by Mendil + Meyer Design Studio, new features include a Zuzu neon sign, 1950’s inspired wood screens and new lighting. The lounge and dining room has been combined for welcoming space and the hotel’s signature circle design is noticeable.

“We are beyond excited to re-introduce ZuZu, not only to our wonderful Scottsdale community, but also to the guests of Hotel Valley Ho,” said Executive Chef Russell LaCasce. “Our new menu is meant to surprise and delight, while still satisfying those classic cravings.”

look
Crispy Pork Shank. All photos courtesy of Kristin Heggli at Hotel Valley Ho

Look at the new menu

LaCasce’s new menu features smaller, shareable plates with a few guests’ favorite dishes remaining. Many of the menu’s ingredients come from the restaurant’s new 240 foot herb and vegetable garden. Zuzu continues to work with local farmers and purveyors including Pinnacle Farms, Schreiner’s Fine Sausage and Hickman’s Family Farms.

New signature dishes include Oxtail Pappardelle with foie gras & Parmesan and Crispy Pork Shank with sour apple molasses glaze, cucumber tarragon yogurt and pita. Two new monthly revolving dishes will be available….. Cut of the Moment will be a savory dish with a unique plating design and Farmer’s Plate will offer seasonal vegetables making for a great vegetarian meal. Those looking for a unique dining experience can let LaCasce Take the Wheel. For $75 per person chef will create a hand selected meal. Weekend brunchers will notice a few changes and brunch is now served all day during the week.

Zuzu Chocolate Bar

Save room for dessert as Zuzu’s famous Show Stopper Shake is still available along with new desserts. Le Cordon Bleu trained Pastry Chef Clarissa Robinson brings her chocolate expertise to new desserts Zuzu Chocolate Bar, a Donut Sundae and Buttermilk Pie. Adults can add their favorite spirit to dessert to spike it up.

Private dining, wine room and more

Speaking of spirits new cocktails have been added including the Zuzu Mango Tango along with a new wine room. The new “Vine Vault” house wines from around the world. “The Rosie Room” is a new hidden private dining room named for Rosalyn “Rosie” Bennett Lyon, the matriarch of the family that owns the hotel. Her grandchildren called Rosie “Zuzu” and the inspiration for the restaurant comes from her cooking and warm hospitality.

I’ll be visiting Zuzu next week to check out the new menu and more. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @SandyWass for pictures.

Zuzu and Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.