2020 brought many surprises good and bad to the valley’s dining scene. One of the biggest surprises was the return of restaurateur Peter Kasperski in December. He and valley mixologist Richie Moe III have again joined forces to open Character Distinctive Dining in the Roosevelt Arts District. The two have known each other for over 30 years going back to their days in Chicago when Moe’s father was Kasperski’s mentor.
Moe helped Kasperski open Cowboy Ciao in the 1990s then Kazmierz Wine Bar before they went their separate ways. Moe had gone on to open and run cocktail programs at Citizen Public House, The Gladly and Bourbon and Bones. Kasperski has been lying low the last few years plotting his next move since he closed Cowboy Ciao.
Downtown Phoenix’s Character Distinctive Dining is a classic American dinner house with cuisines from around the world made using modern cooking techniques. Kasperski’s love for eclectic wines and Moe’s inventive cocktail list have also made their way downtown from Scottsdale. Some will see similarities with Cowboy Ciao especially the popular dinner events. One of those events is the monthly Somm Showdown with Peter Kasperski and a local wine sommelier go head to head picking the best pairings for a five-course dinner. The first Somm Showdown is Sunday January 24th 2021 with Synergy Fine Wines’ Steve Cannon. Seating is limited to 30 people and dinner is $90 ++ per person.
The pair are also opening Alias, a speakeasy, later this year out back of Character. Three nights a week Moe and Chef Justin “Red” Hauska will create mixology/gastronomy dinners pairing cocktails and food with science and surprises. After dinner starting at 9 p.m. Alias will become a craft cocktail bar until 2 a.m.
Character / Alias is at 218 E Portland St. Phoenix, AZ 85004. For more information check their website, Facebook and Instagram.
Colorful cocktails with tiny umbrellas and hula skirts will take over the space where Cowboy Ciao was when the Drunk Munk opens in March. The iconic Cowboy Ciao closed last year after 21 years. Owners Greg Donally, Andrew Nam and Scott Hane have experience with Scottsdale restaurants as they own Geisha A Go Go and have owned bars and restaurants including Drift Lounge in downtown Scottsdale.
“We are excited to bring something new and different like Drunk Munk to Scottsdale,” said co-owner Donnally. “The dishes on the menu will transport you across Asia and up the beaches of Mexico. Who knows, you could even see some old favorites from a former concept we had in Old Town, the well-known Drift Lounge.”
Drunk Munk eats
Tiki themed cocktails and dishes such as flaming pu pu platter, sushi along with Asian inspired small plates, salads and sandwiches will be served.
Happy hour will be offered everyday and brunch will be served on weekends. Brunch items will include Red Velvet waffles and a different style of Eggs Benedict and Bloody Mary’s.
The 4,600 square foot restaurant is currently under going renovations to a Polynesian theme. When finished it will accommodate 150 people in the main dining area and 50 on the patio. The Idol of Worship from Drift is known to bless guests with his presence will be at the Drunk Munk.
“We are grateful to have the chance at opening in such a stable restaurant location like Cowboy Ciao. To occupy a property owned by the Unger family, we truly feel the tiki gods have made this happen. Peter was so far ahead of his time in 1997 when it opened,” said Donnally.
The Drunk Munk will be at 7133 E. Stetson Dr. Scottsdale 85251. For information visit their website.
What started out 10 years ago with 93 restaurants has blossomed in to a twice yearly foodie event that is Arizona Restaurant Week. Mark your calendars for the week of May 19th – 28th when the 2017 Spring Arizona Restaurant Week returns with over 150 planned to participate.
The Arizona Restaurant Association started sponsoring the state wide event in the Fall of 2008 to help promote the states restaurant industry and increasing awareness of Arizona restaurants. Diners will have the opportunity visit new restaurants along with favorites who will offer unique 3 course prix-fixe menus for $33 or $44 per person.
Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO Steve Chucri said, “Arizona Restaurant Week has remained a strong culinary driver to many local chefs and restaurant owners as well as a treasured memory maker for diners. It’s hard to go wrong, and we are delighted to be celebrating ten years of making folks happy.”
Arizona Restaurant Week has helped local restaurants become a dining destination for foodies from around the country and the world. Since the 1st Arizona Restaurant Week it has expanded to a Spring foodie extravaganza in 2011 and a Arizona Breakfast Weekend was added a few years later. 2017 Fall Restaurant Week is planned for September 15th – 24th and Arizona Breakfast Weekend will take place from July 27th – 30th will more details to come about the 10 year anniversary celebration in September.
10 restaurants including Don and Charlie’s, Cowboy Ciao, Lon’s at The Hermosa Inn and Roaring Fork have participated in all 10 years.
With a variety of restaurants like Match Cuisine & Cocktails, Mancuso’s, Nook Kitchen, Salty Sow, White Chocolate Grill and all 4 Ajo Al’s Mexican Cafe’s to choose from foodies can expect reservations to fill up quickly so planning ahead is essential. Check http://arizonarestaurtweek.com for participating restaurants and updates of those being added to the growing list.