Arizona Bao and Dumpling Festival returns

Tickets are now on sale for the 2021 Arizona Bao and Dumpling Festival that was canceled last year because of the global pandemic. The festival is on Saturday November 6th at downtown Chandler’s Dr. A.J. Chandler Park. It goes from 12- 4:30 p.m. with early entry at 10:30 a.m. for ticket holders with early access.

In order to keep festival goers safe a cleaning company has been hired to sanitize tables & chairs and vendors will be sanitizing their booths. Masked are suggested when standing on line but not required.

Times will be staggered this year with a limited amount of tickets allocated during three time periods and ticket holders MUST arrive in their allocated time. Tickets are non-refundable if you miss your allocated time but you can email the festival organizers to change your time if tickets are still available. Food and drinks sold separately by each vendor with at least one bao or dumpling available for $5 or under. Children 6 and under are free and so is parking. Boba, desserts and other Asian dishes will be available and a curated marketplace with artists will also be happening.

Early admission ticket ($14.99) holders arrive at 10:30 a.m. and no later than 11:30 a.m.

General admission ticket ($10) holders arrive at 12:00 p.m. and no later than 1:30 p.m.

Happy Hour ticket ($6) holders arrive at 2:00 p.m.- until the end. No guarantee that all food and drink will still be available. Menu and vendors subject to change.

Tickets for the Arizona Bao and Dumpling Festival can be purchased and more information can be found here.

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.

 

Frenchie Pizza bringing a French twist to pizza in Gilbert

The Buschetz family own and operate 3 restaurants in the East Valley and this week will add a 4th when they open Frenchie Pizza on Thursday July 8th. The restaurant will serve American thin sliced pizza along with “flammekueche” or “flammies” for short. The unleavened crispy flatbread is popular throughout the Alsace region of France.

Co-owner and Executive Chef Fabrice Buschetz is a native of France and relocated to Arizona from his home country in 2013 with his wife and co-owner Máiréad who is General Manager of all of the family’s restaurants. Says Máiréad “We’ve always used Fabrice’s past experiences in kitchens to develop concepts,” she said. “We have so many ideas in our head we could probably do 20 more different themes easily.” 

Traditional “flammes” will be served and often uses a tangy & creamy white sauce topped with smoked bacon and onions. Other versions on the menu include potato and mushroom toppings and Americanized version to include buffalo chicken and tomato & basil with honey Sriracha. Dessert “flammes” will include Nutella, caramelized apples, bananas and cream cheese. The American style pizza will be made with 00 flower and San Marzano tomatoes.

The fast casual concept offers pizza for take-out and will seat 30 people in the dining room that includes several TV’s. Six draft beers will be on tap along with single serve bottles of wine and a margarita machine will offer the frozen drink.

Frenchie Pizza is at 3765 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert, AZ 85297 and will be open 7 days a week starting at 11 a.m. For more information check out their website.

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.

Cuisine Wine & Bistro taking reservations for Chefs’ Carte Blanche dinner

The dinner on the 12th has been postponed, no new date has been scheduled as of yet.

Chandler’s Cuisine Wine & Bistro has been showcasing French cuisine in the East Valley since 2016. Owned by the Buschtetz family along with Gilbert’s B Gastrobar and Copper & Logs, CWB started their monthly Chef’s Carte Blanche dinner series in December 2020 to much success. Reservations are being taken for the next dinner coming up on Monday April 12th.

“Unlimited Discretionary Power to Act”, Carte Blanche is exactly what guests will be giving the chefs to act upon. The 7-course dinner paired with wines showcases Executive Chef Fabrice Buschtetz classically trained French cooking. By his side will be son Steven, chef de cuisine at B Gastrobar and Chef Michael Maitrel- Burgard, chef de cuisine at Copper & Logs with wines paired by Killian Buschtetz, Sommelier at Cuisine Wine & Bistro.

The Chefs’ Carte Blanche menu

“Part of our fun,’” says Fabrice, “comes from making each course look both delicious and memorable on the plate. There is a real talent — I was going to say skill, but it is much more than that — in arranging each course so that it showcases the food in an especially enticing way.”

The dinner will cover land and sea with the evening starting with a trio of Amuse- Bouche followed by courses of caviar, duck, squid and lamb along with a mid-course palette cleanser of sorbet and ending with dessert.

Guests are asked to arrive no later than 5:45 with dinner beginning promptly at 6:00. Reservations are $225 plus tax & gratuity and can be made by calling 480-275-6700. To see the full menu please visit their website. Cuisine Wine & Bistro is at 4991 S. Alma School Rd. Chandler 85248.

Pork on a Fork opening new location in Chandler in May

Popular BBQ joint Pork on a Fork is coming to the East Valley this spring as they get ready to open on Alma School Rd in Chandler. Owners Justin Erickson and Wes Hansen started the started selling their smoked meats and sandwiches at farmer’s markets around Phoenix before opening their original location in north Phoenix’s Deer Valley neighborhood in 2010. After the first location, they opened inside Gila River and Talking Stick Arenas and expanded into catering and a food truck.

The pair gained fame when invited on “Guy Fieri’s Celebrity Food Show” and the host started using their meats during cooking demonstrations. They’ve since found themselves on USA Today’s 10 Best list and on The Cooking Channel’s “Big Bad BBQ Crawl”.

“We’re really excited to continue the expansion of our brand and move into the East Valley,” says Erickson. “This is an entirely new market for us and a big opportunity for us to grow. We can’t wait to welcome this new demographic of BBQ lovers.”

The Chandler location will serve the same slow-cooked smoked meats available in Deer Valley including brisket and pork by the pound. Sandwiches, bowls and burritos along with new items such as Cowboy Nachos, Brisket Chili and smoked turkey and bologna will be on the menu. Dine-in and drive-thru will be available with drive-thru offering more personalized service than traditional fast food drive-thru.

People looking to join the Pork on a Fork team in Chandler can submit an application online at https://www.porkonafork.com/join-our-team. For more information 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.

All Mac & Cheese dishes Buy 1, Get 1 Free at Fired Pie

In honor of National Cheese Lovers Day on Wednesday January 20th all locations are offering up the deal on the popular comfort food. Baked and topped with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs guests can choose from 40 different toppings. This deal is only good for dine-in and is good on mac n cheese of equal or lesser value.

Found:RE Hotel’s Passport Series goes to Mexico

The downtown Phoenix hotel hosts their monthly night with international flavor on Saturday January 16th. The pool and bar area will be transformed for a Mexican vacation with food, cocktails and more. The fiesta goes from 6 – 10 p.m. and more information can be found on their website.

Good news as Cider Corps releases seasonal pie ciders

The popular Pumpkin Pie, Peach Cobbler & Cherry Crisp ciders are now available by the can. Delayed due to the pandemic as ingredients were harder to source these ciders are available for a limited time. 6-packs are $20 and include 2 of each cider or can be purchased individually to be drank at the cidery. 6-packs can be ordered in advance for take away at https://www.toasttab.com/cider-corps-31-s-robson-103/v3

Signature cakes turn to pies at Chase’s Diner

Saturday January 23rd is National Pie Day at the Chandler diner, known for their scratch made desserts, is making two signature pies for the occasion. Turning their Carrot & German Chocolate Cake into pies guest can enjoy them by the slice ($4.29) or the whole darn pie ($13.99). Whole pies need to be ordered in advance.

Round 5 of Hotel Valley Ho’s Versus Series pits beer vs. wine

Which goes better with food, beer or wine? Find out on January 23rd when the Old Town Scottsdale hotel hosts another reception and three-course dinner. Tempe’s Huss Brewing Co. and Sonoma County’s Rodney Strong Vineyards will pair the beers and wines to see who wins. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and is $129++ per person.

Bourbon & Bones Chophouse bringing high-end dining to Gilbert

With the end of 2020 not far off we’re looking to 2021 and the anticipated restaurant openings around town. One of the first is Old Town Scottsdale’s boutique steakhouse Bourbon & Bones Chophouse opening at Gilbert’s SanTan Village in mid-January. Square One Concepts opened its flagship location in September 2016 and is looking forward to opening the 2nd location of its fine-dining concept.

Square One Founder and President S. Barrett Rinzler says “There’s demand for fine dining in the East Valley.  We’re honestly thrilled to deliver our specialty chophouse to a community that’s perhaps under-served and appreciates fine food, fine wine, custom cocktails and the taste of great bourbon.

Barrel Boulevardier

The larger Gilbert restaurant will feature two dining rooms and a private dining room for up to 50 people. A contemporary decor will have white and gray tones and a luxurious bar.

Bourbon & Bones Chophouse meats and bourbons

The large a la carte steak selection will include Wagyu Rib Cap, Bone-in Filet, a Dry-Aged Pork Chop, Lamb Chops and more. Fresh seafood including Seared Ahi Tuna, Chilean Sea Bass and Seared Salmon. Side dishes offered include Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Truffle Mac n Cheese and more.

Sommeliers will oversee the over 1,500 bottle wine list that includes familiar steakhouse wines and smaller lesser known wines for the connoisseur. True to its name Bourbon & Bones Chophouse will offer one of the largest bourbon collections found anywhere. Classic cocktails will be poured as will aged bourbon meant to be sipped.

“Bourbon & Bones was created to offer a high-quality dining experience in a welcoming atmosphere.  This one has been in the planning stages for well over a year and means a lot to us; it’s larger than our flagship in Scottsdale.  We’ve taken time to carefully develop the interiors and the team is excited to welcome guests in the New Year.”

The dinner only restaurant will serve a daily happy hour when it opens at 4 p.m. Bourbon & Bones Chophouse will be at 2150 E. Williams Field Rd. Gilbert 85295. For more information and updates visit their website.

Visit Mesa launches Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour for socially distanced fun

Visit Mesa launched an exciting socially distant way for foodies and families to learn about the East Valley’s agrotourism community. The popular activity, Geocaching is part scavenger hunt part education and the new Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour will take you to 8 local farms, orchards and businesses. At each location geocachers will collect limited edition stickers and find all 10 geocaches for Fresh Foodie Trail Geotour recipes, a Visit Mesa branded wooden spoon and a digital souvenir from www.geocaching.com

Geo Tour stops include Jalapeno Bucks BBQ, Agritopia, Schnepf Farms, Queen Creek Olive Mill and other area farms.

Want to take a few days to enjoy your geotour, consider the Escape to Mesa vacation package before it ends. The promotion is open to Arizona residents who book a 2 night stay at a Mesa hotel. The package includes $150 in incentives and runs through the end of December. Visit http://www.escapetomesa.com/ for more information.

Angelo’s Ale on tap at Barro’s Pizza in the East Valley

Beer drinkers wanting to taste the new Angelo’s Ale from Four Beaks Brewing Company need to get the east valley. It’s for a good cause as Barro’s Pizza’s east valley locations will pour the beer named after Barro’s founder Angelo Barro. In 1961 Angelo opened the first restaurant Chicago then opening in Arizona in 1980. He passed away from Alzheimer’s in 2015 and proceeds from Angelo’s Ale are being donated to the Alzheimer’s Association, Desert Southwest Chapter.

“We are really moved by Four Peaks’ offer and partnership to honor our Dad with a local brew,” said Bruce Barro, co-owner of Barro’s Pizza. “We saw our dad suffer from Alzheimer’s, and it means a lot to be able to help fund Alzheimer’s education and support.”

During a kickoff event in mid-November a $5,000 check was presented to the Association.

There is no better combination than pizza and beer,” said Rocky Arredondo, Four Peaks’ sr. director of marketing. “We wanted to find a way to honor the patriarch of the Barro family while also Four Peaks Brewing Company and Barro’s Pizza helping fight Alzheimer’s. He was an important icon in Arizona, and it only felt right to come up with a brew that we could dedicate to him. We’re honored to have our beer available at Barro’s locations across the East Valley.”

 

Expansion happening again for Cider Corps in 2021

The continued popularity of cider is causing Mesa’s Cider Corps to expand for the 2nd time since opening three years ago. This expansion has the veteran owned business move production to a new larger facility in nearby Gilbert in mid-2021. Don’t worry cider drinkers the downtown Mesa taproom will still be open along with Myke’s Pizza.

Co-owners brothers Josh and Jason Duren (retired U.S.M.C.) need the additional space to meet demand for its cans and keg business. “Our immediate goal is to ramp up production to be able to share our ciders with even more people in Arizona,” said Josh Duren. “As we grow, it’s nice to have kind of a blank page of space that can evolve as we do, and that can adapt as life beyond the pandemic does.”

Expansion plans in Gilbert

The 11,500 sq.ft. Gilbert facility will have a main building for production and retail sales for customers to take cider home. When it becomes safe to do so the brothers will host tours of the cidery and have events scheduled. Upon entry to the facility a canning line will be visible and customers can see the packaging process. A second building will be used for cold storage. The additional production will allow for experimentation of new ciders and techniques.

The current equipment will be moved and new equipment will be purchased so they can triple production to 1,000 barrels. Cider Corps opened in November 2017 and in 2019 expanded with by 2,000 sq. ft to accommodate the growth of their ciders.

“We get a ton of people from the East Valley, Gilbert and beyond, who make the trek to the taproom. We’re really excited about being closer for them” he said. “But I’m just as excited about being able to grow and create more ciders for all of Arizona”. The new facility will be at 685 S. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85296.