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.

February specials at Serrano’s

Throughout the month of February the family owned Mexican restaurants are featuring 3 dishes on the menu. Chichalada is a fried masa patty stuffed with chicharrones (fried pork bites similar to bacon), onion, cilantro and queso fresco, and topped with tomatillo sauce and crema is served with one side of your choice for $10.99.

The Phat Elvis is part of the Girl Scout Cookie Dessert Challenge and features Tagalongs Graham cracker crust, peanut butter cheesecake, whipped cream and crumbled Girl Scout Tagalongs mixed with bananas and topped with chocolate ganache, brown-sugar bacon and a bonus Tagalong cookie for $7.99. The Strawberry Margarita is the Drink of the Month is $6.99.

All four locations are looking to hire both front and back of the house employees with on the spot walk in interviews every Wednesday from 2 – 4 p.m. Apply online if you can’t get to there on Wednesday’s.

Outdoor dining coming to Nook Kitchen

The Arcadia restaurant will increase capacity by 50 seats when their new covered patio opens. Owner Frank Vairo always envisioned al fresco dining at the restaurant but couldn’t get the city of Phoenix to approve it until it became a necessity during the Covid outbreak. The restaurant remains open for dinner and late night dining on Friday & Saturday’s til 2 a.m. during construction with reservations recommended.

Brick Road Coffee opens in Tempe

Co-owners and husbands Gabe Hagen and Jesse Shank opened their new coffee shop with the Wizard of Oz philosophy of acceptance and self-realization. All are welcome to enjoy a sense of community and art with their daily cup of Joe. Custom made murals by local artist Paige Reesor and L.A. artist Corrie Mattie adorn the walls and gender neutral restrooms. Coffee is supplied by local roaster CULT Artisan Beverage Company and pastries are from Tempe’s Squarz Bakery. Brick Road is on Rural Rd. just south the the 60 Freeway.

Koibito Poke adds a Keto bowl to the menu

Those on the high fat, low carb Ketogenic diet can now get the cauliflower based bowl packed with tuna & salmon, cucumber, green onion, kale, brussel sprouts, Sriracha aioli and topped with sesame seeds. The Keto bowl is available for dine-in, take-out and delivery.

LDV Winery receives 2 awards from prestigious wine competition

The San Francisco Chronicle 2022 Wine Competition announced the Arizona winery took home a gold and silver medal for their 2015 “The Signature” Petite Sirah in the $46 and over category and their 2015 Petite Sirah in the $40- $45.99 category. The competition had 45 judges from the trade, media, retail and hospitality industry and more 5,800 wines from North America were entered.

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.

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.

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.

 

A new culinary team takes over when Ghost Ranch re-opens.

When the popular south Tempe restaurant re-opens in mid-January guests will see new faces in the front and back of the house. Executive Chef David Mora, Sous Chef Tyler Moonsoo and Pastry Chef Lisa Graf are new culinary team and General Manager Ashleh Robles runs the front of the house.

Mora will run the kitchen was born in Colombia and raised in Florida where learned to love the diversity of food. He started his restaurant career in Miami before making his way to Arizona. He’s worked at Flagstaff’s Copa Cafe, Mariposa in Sedona and was sous chef at Palo Verde and chef de Cuisine at The Spotted Donkey at The Boulders in Carefree. “I’ve spent more than a decade exploring the complexity of southwest cuisine and I am thrilled to bring what I’ve learned to Ghost Ranch,” Mora said. “I know the restaurant has quickly become a staple in the Tempe community and I hope to continue serving the area authentic dishes with innovative twists.”

Sous Chef Monsoo will help Mora develop and execute the dishes of Ghost Ranch. He has over 15 years of experience in Arizona at The Boulders, Ah-So Sushi and Steak, Obon Sushi and Ramen and Wrights Kitchen at The Arizona Biltmore from Waldorf Astoria.

Pastry Chef Graf rounds out the new culinary team. A native of Colorado, Graf draws inspiration from traveling as a teenager through Europe, learning and tasting local foods. Back in the states she re-located to Santa Fe, New Mexico to launch her culinary career as a pastry chef. After earning her pâtissier certificate she ran pastry programs at James Beard Foundation recognized restaurants La Boca and the Compound. She’s also worked at Mama’s Fish House in Maui and Scottsdale’s Roka Akor and Hotel Valley Ho.

Tempe native Robles takes over as General Manager running daily operations and administration. Starting her career in the hospitality industry at 17 she’s dedicated her career to to customer satisfaction and enjoyment. Her experience in psychology, finance and event planning give her know how to continue to keep customers happy. Customers will notice her creative cocktails, menu pairings and attention to detail in the dining room. She’s worked for more than 10 years in in several roles in high-end lounge, club and bar settings around town.

Ghost Ranch is at 1006 E. Warner Rd. Suite in Tempe. For more information visit their website.

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