Crust Simply Italian continues their expansion with their newest location in the Verde at Cooley Station development in Gilbert. With the new opening comes the new speakeasy themed cocktail bar, The Blue Heron. It’s not owner Mike Merendino’s first dual concept as his Chandler location of Crust also houses The Ostrich cocktail bar downstairs.
“We have been looking in Gilbert for some time now, and when we found the Verde project in Cooley Station we fell in love with the neighborhood,” says owner Merendino. A Mesa location is expected to open in mid-2023.
The East Coast Italian restaurant serves up classic dishes and pizza Merendino used to make in his father’s pizzeria on New York’s Long Island. Authentic pasta dishes, Italian style Rustica shaped pizza’s and craft cocktails are signature to Crust. Happy hour happens Monday -Friday from 3- 6p.m. and offers specials on their popular appetizers and cocktails.
“Crust Simply Italian is looking forward to serving the local Gilbert community with delicious authentic East Coast Italian food! We want our customers to come in as friends and to walk away feeling like family!” says Merendino.
“Dealer’s Choice” at The Blue Heron
The Blue Heron specializes in craft cocktails and the popular “dealer’s choice” cocktail. The “dealer’s choice” is perfect for those aren’t sure what they want to drink so the bartenders create custom cocktails based on the customer’s preference of ingredients. Merendino continues his Birds of a Feather theme in naming The Blue Heron, a native bird to Arizona. Doors open daily at 5 p.m.
Both Gilbert locations offer catering and have space for private dining and events. Crust opens daily at 11 a.m. and is at 2470 S Recker Rd #101,Gilbert AZ 85296.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the anniversary of the passing of Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants co-owner and former Chandler City Council member Stephanie Serrano. In Stephanie’s memory and to raise money for local non-profit Check for a Lump the family owned restaurant is hosting the 4th Annual “Pink Out” on Saturday, October 15th. All four locations will participate with the Chandler location hosting the non-profit’s RV for free mammograms.
“We all miss Stephanie and know that she would be proud of us aligning with a nonprofit like Check for a Lump to provide life-saving education and testing for breast cancer,” said Ric Serrano, CEO of Serrano’s Mexican Restaurants. “Anything we can do to help prevent other families from facing this battle is worthy of our support, so we’re especially encouraged to have the mobile mammography unit at our Chandler location this year.”
“Pink Out” specials for October
If you wear pink on the 15th to any location you will get a free order of pink sprinkled buñuelos for dessert. If you can’t make it by on the for the “Pink Out” stop in all month long to enjoy any or all of the three monthly specials with a portion of the proceeds getting donated to Check for a Lump.
Pink Out Margarita Sampler- $9.99Get your pink on with our house raspberry, strawberry, passionfruit strawberry, and watermelon margaritas!
Stephanie’s Stacked Enchiladas- $12.99Stephanie’s favorite! This gluten-free friendly dish includes corn tortillas, black beans and shredded chicken stacked high and covered in tomatillo sauce and cheese. Served with a side of your choice.
Homemade Apple Crumble- $7.99Our apple crumble à la mode with caramel sauce and cinnamon sugar.
“We are grateful to Serrano’s Mexican Food Restaurant for hosting another fundraising event this year benefiting Check for a Lump to honor the memory of family member Stephanie Serrano who bravely fought breast cancer. Her blessed memory and event will help assist women in our community with life-saving mammograms, wigs and support. We appreciate the Serrano family and are privileged to share in Stephanie’s legacy. Cheers to treasuring memories of her with every dish served,” said Holly Rose, founder and chief executive director of Check for a Lump.
To schedule a free mammogram on the 15th call 480-967-3767.
With the growth of restaurants and bars in downtown Chandler locals and visitors have few breakfast options to start their day. Local developer and owner Niels Kreipke wanted to change that so he took one of his properties on the corner of Arizona Ave. and Boston St. and opened the Tipsy Egg in early May. His experience as partner with other restaurant concepts around the valley gives him the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t and so far this concept exceeds his expectations.
Encompassing 3,000 square feet the modern decor and design is eye catching and features mid-century modern booths and brass finishes. “Tipsy Egg is bringing a wide range of all age groups and is a growing destination area for locals and out of town visitors,” said Kreipke. “We are excited to provide a unique and playful menu, a welcoming indoor/outdoor bar setting and a menu that is anything but typical for our guests to enjoy.” This food first and cocktail forward concept, hence the name, is the first of what will be others throughout the valley.
Bold flavors at the Tipsy Egg
The menu offers guests breakfast and lunch all day including Mom’s Post Roast Benedict (go with the Party Potatoes on the side), Yuzu Masco Mint Pancakes, a Chinese Chicken Salad and an Uptown Burrito filled with filet mignon, eggs, roasted garlic, vegetables, Gouda cheese and more. The cocktail menu offers more than Mimosas and Bloody Marys for those looking for something other than coffee or juice in the morning. The BRKFT in Bed blends Sailor Jerry Rum, butterscotch schnapps, orange juice, lemon lime soda and an orange wheel. The Early Morin Margarita features Tepozan Añejo tequila, fresh lime juice, agave, pineapple juice, lemon lime soda, homemade tajin, a lime wheel and pineapple spear. Non-alcoholic mocktails are also on the list along with a selection of Bloody Marys and local craft beers.
The Tipsy Egg is 1 E. Boston St. Chandler and is open daily from 6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and is available after hours for private parties and business meetings. For more information visit their website.
East Valley residents will soon have a new restaurant to visit as Humble Bistro will be opening at Val Vista and Williams Field Rds. This will be the neighborhood eateries and marketplace’s first East Valley locations with the first at North Phoenix’s High Street and a Humble Pie in the Happy Valley neighborhood. Guests can expect house-made pastas, artisanal pizzas, wines from around the world and more from Chef and Partner Jorge Gomez.
“We’re beyond thrilled to open our new concept in one of the hottest communities in the East Valley,” says Gomez. “The freshly renovated space will feature the signature Humble Bistro charm with the inclusion of the marketplace and coffee bar. A visit to Humble Bistro is not just a meal, it’s an experience. We think these additions will add to that.”
Guests can dine for lunch, brunch, happy hour and dinner while enjoying the atmosphere of a European bistro. Classic Italian and American dishes will give guest a diversity of menu options. The marketplace will offer Humble made pastas, pizza dough and breads along with wine and other food products from artisan producers. There will be an ice cream bar and top quality meats and cheeses will be imported from Spain and Italy.
The restaurant will cover 5,000 square feet with a 1,500 square foot patio and the decor will be similar to the other location. An early Spring opening is planned. Humble Bistro will be at 1524 E. Williams Field Rd. Gilbert 85295. For more information and to stay updated on the opening visit their website.
Event producer Forty8 Live! and Angry Crab Shack will be bringing the Angry Crab Shack Southwest Cajun Festival to downtown Chandler come Saturday February 26th. The family friendly Mardi-Gras style bash will turn Dr. A.J. Chandler Park into Bourbon Street with French Quarter back drops, magicians, a Mardi Gras float and of course food.
“Whether it’s the smell of the seafood boil, the sounds of our brass bands, the thrill of our live gators or the thousands of beads being thrown, we want you to feel like you are transported right inside NOLA!” said David Horen, Director – Events at Forty8 Live!
Starting at 2 p.m. Cajun food lovers can expect giant seafood boils from Angry Crab Shack, frog legs, beignets, King Cake, Po’ Boys, hush puppies, alligator & catfish bites and more. The Swamp, a drink tent will offer Hurricanes, frozen daiquiris and other Mardi Gras inspired cocktails. A live alligator petting zoo, marching bands, a kid’s zone, jugglers and stilt walkers will entertain the crowds. The “Prince of Zydeco” headliner C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band will play live and costumes are encouraged.
“With thousands upon thousands of true Cajun Fest fanatics, we are so excited to once again be delivering our first-in-class Mardi Gras themed event to the heart of the East Valley!” said Mike O’Donnell, Director – Partnerships at Forty8 Live!
Tickets are $12 online, $20 at the door and kids 12 & under are free with food and beverages purchased separately. Part of the proceeds is going to the Greater Cause Foundation that provides funding to several Arizona causes. Tickets can be purchased and more information can be purchased online at Forty8 Live!’s website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.