20th anniversary celebration coming to Picazzo’s

One day over lunch in 2002 custom home builders Rick Freedman and Doug Stanton realized there was no good pizza in their new hometown of Sedona. So what did the Portland transplants do, they decided to open their first Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen, now their getting ready to celebrate the 20th anniversary Wednesday, November 9th.

In the 20 years since they opened the Sedona location they’ve opened five more in Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Arrowhead, Tempe and Gilbert. Since day one the gourmet pizza restaurant has focused on dishes that are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free with allergy-friendly options. They’ve since added Italian dishes with 95% of all ingredients being organic with many including sauces and dressings made from scratch.20th anniversary

“We pride ourselves on providing quality, healthy dining options for individuals who may have dietary restrictions as well as our guests who do not,” says Picazzo’s Managing Partner Chris Disney. “Picazzo’s is excited to celebrate our 20th year in business, and we’re even more excited looking towards the future and our continued growth. Our team can’t wait to celebrate with our many loyal customers, and we hope to see everyone on November 9!”

All 6 locations will be celebrating their 20th anniversary with happy hour specials from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. along with giveaways and fun photo opportunities. The first 20 guests over 18 at each location will receive a $20 gift card and those photos posted on Instagram and tagging Picazzo’s will be entered in a sweepstakes to win a $200 gift card. Details about the IG sweepstakes are available at each location which you can find at their website.

Hear more about Picazzo’s from Chris Disney listen to Episode 29 of Pulling Corks and Forks: The Podcast.

YC’s Mongolian Grill opens a new Scottsdale location

Locally owned YC’s Mongolian Grill returned to Scottsdale last week with the opening its new Loop 101 & Raintree location. Loyal customers couldn’t wait to get back to building their own stir fry bowls as was evident when I visited with owner Geoff Stansic recently. The previous Scottsdale location was at The Pavilions but was shut down with the other 4 locations due to the pandemic. As the pandemic waned and the economy improved Stansic decided to re-open 3 of the locations in Gilbert, Tempe and Scottsdale with a 4th location slated to open sometime in 2023.

“After a tough few years of working through adversity during the pandemic and beyond, we are ready to open the doors to an all-new YC’s experience and reconnect with our Scottsdale customers,” Stanisic said. “We take pride in the food we serve and love being able to provide our customers with the best ingredients and a bowl full of authentic flavor.”

Stansic took over in 1996, five years after the first location in Tempe was opened by the original owner YC. He knew a thing or two about the restaurant business as he was kitchen manager for Hyatt Hotels and Houston’s before going into business for himself. It shows as he greets his returning customers by name, knows what bowls they will build and sauces they will have them tossed with. He even has a few signature sauces named for long time customers. He credits much of the success to his attentive staff, several who have been with since before he took over almost 30 years ago.

YC's Mongolian Grill
Beef & Broccoli bowl

What is YC’s Mongolian Grill?

Folklore has it that in the days of Genghis Khan, his army would cook their food on their shields over a hot fire, similar to how it’s done at YC’s. In each location after you’ve piled high your meats, vegetables, noodles and sauces the cooks will grill them on 600 degree circular flat top grill in full view. During peak times 4 cooks will toss the ingredients on the grill rotating around the grill.

There is no one demographic at YC’s Mongolian Grill as the food has something for everybody. Vegan and gluten free diets can be accommodated as there are plenty of vegetables, noodles and sauces for all.  Want meat in your bowl, add white or dark meat chicken, pork and or beef with shrimp available during dinner. Don’t be afraid to pile your ingredients high, it’s encouraged. Their signature noodles are sourced from Chinatown in L.A. with vegetables coming from local distributors.

A separate bowl is used combine ingredients for your Asian inspired sauce. A menu board offers several signature sauces recommending how much and which water based sauces and rice wines to use. The staff is always nearby to help create your sauce before grilling making tastes and combinations endless.

Free Stir Fry Day

To celebrate the new location, customers coming in Wednesday, November 2nd will get free small bowl from 11 a.m. – 7p.m. The new location is at 14850 N. 87th St., Scottsdale, AZ. For more information visit their website.

The return of Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week in September

As plant-based diets get more popular diners are looking for more restaurants and food options when dining out. The return of Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week, September 11th-18th, people can get a chance to dine on special plant based meals at full service restaurants, food trucks, bakeries, meal delivery services and more.

Founders Jozh Watson (PHX Vegan) and Chef Jason Wyrick (The Vegan Taste) want to continue to bring awareness to plant-based diets get more popular diners are looking for more restaurants and food options to dine out at. “According to Watson, “Last year, Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week was so well received by the community. Every eatery that participated reported a significant increase in traffic during the event. This year promises to be even bigger and better.”

During the week-long event diners will be treated to plant based meals during breakfast, lunch and dinner at participating restaurants not normally found on their menu. Breakfast will be capped at $15, lunch will offer an appetizer, entree and drink for $20 and a three course dinner for no more than $30 with a 5 course meal no more than $44. Reservations are now being taken for the week at restaurants including Salvadoreno Restaurant (Phoenix and Mesa), Dilla Libre (Phoenix and Scottsdale), Early Bird Vegan, Freak Brothers Pizza and others.

A list of restaurants and menus can be found at their updated website as the list continues to grow. Non-vegan restaurants are encouraged to participate to showcase their plant based options. Menus are available for both dine-in and take-out. According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are realizing they need to appeal to a variety of food preferences. Veganism is a lifestyle choice that is here to stay, and we’re proud to show off the amazing culinary mark Phoenix is making.” Photo credit Debby Wolvos

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.

Caffe Vita joins the Phoenix coffee scene with 1st Arizona location

Phoenicians can’t get enough coffee and on Saturday July 30th there will be a new place to get your daily cup of go-go juice. Seattle’s Caffe Vita opens its ninth location nationwide and first in Arizona in the former Easley’s Fun Shop at 509 W. McDowell Rd. To celebrate their arrival, all day Saturday their giving away a FREE oat milk lattes.

Paying respect to the former tenant and its history in Phoenix, Caffe Vita is preserving several aspects of Easley’s including their signature bright yellow sign “Our business is fun”. Also renting out space in the building will be brewery Roses by the Stairs and men’s clothier Cave and Post.

“It was important for us to give a nod to the beloved business that once called this space home, and we worked with Carol Easley and family to preserve as much of the building as possible while constructing a space that’s uniquely Caffe Vita,” said Deming Maclise, Owner and CEO of Caffe Vita. “We think Phoenix residents will be pleasantly surprised at how much this space feels like an evolution of the location, rather than a takeover.”

Coffee and more at Caffe Vita

Beans will be roasted in a vintage Probat UG 22 and will be overseen by Director of Coffee Sam Spillman. Spillman is the 2019 United States Barista Champion and brings a wealth of knowledge and kindness to the job.

Guests can sip on signature coffee drinks such as Caffe Del Sol Espresso, single origin coffees and Oatdos. The latter is a cortado made with oat milk. Seasonal drinks including the Cold Brew Shandy and Prickly Pear tonic will be exclusive to the Phoenix location. To keep cool on hot days there will also be a selection of slushy drinks.

La Grande Orange Bake Shop, Yo Donut and Suss Pastries will provide locally made pastries and breakfast specialties. On the menu you’ll find a Prickly Pear Fruit Pocket, gluten free and vegan Passion Fruit donuts and more.

Caffe Vita will be open daily from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. For more information visit their website.

Summer Supper returns at Marcellino Ristorante

When downtown Scottsdale’s Marcellino Ristorante returns next Thursday August 4th after a couple weeks of rest and relaxation so will their Summer Supper dining experience. Guests can enjoy a three course for only $49 per person choosing from antipastos, award-winning handcrafted pastas and ending with house-made biscotti for dessert. Imagine a Caprese salad with imported mozzarella or entrees Gnocchi Sorrentina or Filetto Di Maiale without leaving Arizona. The Summer Supper is available nightly from 4 p.m. til closing for parties up to 6 people.

Also returning is their weekly Dinner and a Movie program. Every Tuesday and Wednesday evening through the first week of September at 5:30 p.m. guests can enjoy dinner from the menu or the Summer Supper menu. Enjoy the private dining room with others for a date night, girl’s night out or just letting Marcellino do the cooking. Admission is free but dinner and reservations are  required.

The movies are as scheduled.

August 9; and August 24: “The Talented Mr. Ripley”
August 10; and August 30: “Only You”

August 16; and August 31: “Roman Holiday”

August 17; and August 23: “Eat, Pray, Love”

August 28; and September 7: “When in Rome”
September 6: “The Big Night”
Reservations are suggested for the Summer Supper. To make a reservation call 480-490-9500. For more information and to view their menus 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.

New menus debut at Zuzu

The signature restaurant at Old Town Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho recently debuted the new menu from Executive Chef Russel LaCasce. Hotel guests and locals can choose from a Steak & Potato Skillet, Strawberry Crème Brûlée French Toast, the Hot Hot Chicken Sammie and more on the everyday brunch menu.

The dinner menu now includes Grilled Portuguese Octopus, a Slow Braised Pork Shank, Pan-Seared Diver Scallops and more. Save room for the Blood Orange Panna Cotta, Double Dark Chocolate Cake and other desserts from new Pastry Chef Maria Arenas. Reserve your table by calling 480-421-7997.

3rd Tuesday Dinner next week at Romeo’s Euro Cafe

The popular cafe in downtown Gilbert still has seats left for its monthly dinner on Tuesday, April 19th. The three course dinner is paired with wines from around the world to complement each dish chosen by his staff. The dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and reservations can be made by calling 480-962-4224.

Eat Up Drive In celebrates its 1st anniversary

Starting Monday, April 18th through Sunday, April 24th the Arcadia restaurant will be serving up iced teas, lemonades, including their new seasonal cucumber lime lemonade, French fries and their famous gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, all for just one dollar each.

After a 2 year hiatus Foodstock is back next weekend

Over 55 food trucks will be heading back to the Peoria Sports Complex for the return of Arizona’s favorite food truck festival. The family friendly event is next Saturday, April 23rd from 4-10 p.m. Admission is $5 with children under 12 getting in for free. The event is a collaboration between Get Local Arizona Events and Peoria Diamond Club with all the proceeds from the gate going to feed hungry children in the west valley.

Huss Brewpub ready to open at Phoenix Convention Center

It’s been a long 2 plus years that I wrote about the local brewery opening in downtown Phoenix and a longer four years of planning for co-owners Jeff and Leah Huss. It’s about to pay off next Wednesday, April 20th on Monroe St. between 2nd and 3rd St. on the Convention Center’s north facade.

As part of the celebration one lucky winner will win a “Season Table at the Brewpub”. The winner and 3 guests will enjoy a table for 24 games with the reservation guaranteeing them a table during busy times. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 18th on social media in time for the Phoenix Suns playoff rally.

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.

Birdcall opening its first Arizona location in Scottsdale next month

The Denver-based fast casual restaurant Birdcall will be opening its first all-natural chicken restaurant in Scottsdale in April. Once opened in the former Jason’s Deli near the northeast corner of Scottsdale & Shea it will be the first of 10 planned locations in Phoenix. The company was founded in 2016 and the Scottsdale location will be the company’s ninth location.

Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Peter Newlin said that the new Phoenix area locations align with the company’s growth strategy. “We’re trying to change the way that people look at fast food,” Newlin said. “We’ve incorporated cutting-edge technology to deliver delicious natural foods and beverages quickly, without sacrificing quality. Our customers appreciate the fact that they can either grab a meal to-go or dine in with family and friends in a casual, hip setting that conveniently works around their schedules and any time constraints.”

Once opened, Birdcall will serve lunch and dinner that will feature 100% all-natural chicken sandwiches, fresh salads, crispy tenders, gluten & dairy free chicken nuggets along with vegetarian options. Phoenix’s Noble Bakery will provide fresh buns and sauces will be made from scratch in-house using 100% all natural ingredients. Local beers from SanTan Brewing and Greenwood Brewing will be served as will organic teas & sodas and milkshakes.

A community minded Birdcall

Birdcall is very focused on the communities it enters and gives back at least 1% of sales to the community. “Community is the heart and soul of everything we do at Birdcall,” Newlin said. “We want to be measured by the impact we create, not the money we make, and that’s why our beneficiaries range from local street artists and musicians to schools and nonprofits.”

Inside will be spacious with a contemporary design and outside will be a mural inspired by Arizona and shaded tables on the dog-friendly patio. Technology will make ordering easy with kiosks for dine-in & take-out and a double lane drive-thru is available for those on the go. A second location at  SanTan Village is planned for Fall 2022 and a Phoenix location planned in early 2023. For more information and to view their menu visit their website.

Giving Tree Cafe shows sign of hope with life size sculpture

Phoenix’s Giving Tree Cafe known for serving clean eating vegan, organic & gluten free food is also known as a community spot in the neighborhood. The cafe at 7th St. near Monte Vista recently installed a life size sculpture of a iconic 1932 photograph by Charles Ebbets. Owner David Warr wanted to find a permanent home for the structure and the message it conveys.

“’Lunch Atop a Skyscraper’ stands as a testament to our resourcefulness and resilience. Our community has been through a challenging couple of years. Yet, we pulled ourselves up from our bootstraps, and we’ve grown stronger,” said Warr.

Getting it to the Giving Tree Cafe

The sculpture was hidden in storage and Warr found out about it from customer David Kirschenbaum who produced the sculpture with sculptor Blake Emory. The 24 foot long and 20 foot high sculpture took 3 days to install after being delivered to the cafe. It took Emory & Kirschenbaum over 2 years to make by hand using clay, fiberglass resin, steel, PVC, wood, textiles, rubber & chrome.

“Many haven’t been able to enjoy the arts scene for quite some time. I wanted to bring this sculpture back to life as a sign of strength, hope and togetherness,” said Warr.

The photograph and sculpture show 11 steelworkers eating lunch on a girder high above the streets of NYC. The 69 story building being built is the RCA building, now part of Rockefeller Center and the erecting of the building was a sign of hope and confidence in the future during The Great Depression.  Each of the 11 replicas of the workers is life size and each weighs about 100 lbs. According to Warr,

“We’re not done yet. Watch the space over the next couple of weeks.” Artist Emory returns to make an exciting addition to the structure.

The Giving Tree Cafe is at 2024 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85004. For more information visit their website.

 

 

Santé to open in north Scottsdale in mid- December

A new healthy food focused restaurant is opening on December 14th in the Kierland neighborhood of north Scottsdale. Santé, the brainchild of restaurateur Nic Neuman, owner of EVO and friend Nico Doniele, who has  hospitality experience and is a certified health coach. The new restaurant will serve dishes that incorporate flavors from around the world along with being healthy and favorable towards all diets.

The upscale restaurant has a grab n go section, will serve breakfast, happy hour and dinner with lunch starting in 2022. In addition to serving keto, vegan, vegetarian, paleo and gluten-free foods, Santé will be sustainable as much as possible including sourcing organic ingredients from ethical sources to composting.

“My motto is ‘let us live to eat and live longer to eat,’ and Santé embodies that,” said Doniele. “We wanted to create a beautiful, inclusive restaurant where people with all kinds of dietary restrictions can dine together and enjoy the community and connection we’ve been missing over the last nearly two years.”

Inspired by Nico’s travels and health journey the menu will include signature dishes including Buttermilk Brined Chicken and a Bison filet. A wine list of 50 offerings will be bio-dynamic from old world countries that will include orange wines and sparkling rose. For cocktails, a bar cart will travel the room making table-side cocktails during brunch & dinner. Customers on the go can grab healthy snacks, meals and supplements along with coffee and tea from the gourmet café. The restaurant will also offer community events including Sunday School, fun and educational seminars with wellness professionals.

Santé is at 15507 N. Scottsdale Rd. 85254. 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.

Macayo’s Mexican Food returns to Scottsdale with new location

The 75 year old restaurant has opened its newest location at Loop 101 & Shea Blvd in Pima Crossing. Known for such dishes as Green Chile Pork Stew & Chicken Poblano the menu is the same as the other locations around the valley.

Summer Supper is back on the menu at Marcellino’s Ristorante

From now until Sunday September 15th guests can opt for the 3-course meal for $44. Several choices from the Antipasto and Second Course menu that include homemade pasta.

Their private dining room is available on Tuesday’s through July and Tuesday & Wednesday’s in August for dinner and a movie. Parties of 8-10 people can reserve the room at no cost but dinner service is required. Call 480-990-9500 to make a dinner reservation or to reserve the room.

Elote Pizza back by popular demand at Fired Pie

All 21 locations of the locally owned fast casual pizza concept has brought back the street corn inspired and topped pizza (and more toppings) for a limited time. The pizza can be made with tradition, cauliflower & gluten-free dough.

Summer cool down seasonal menu at Thirsty Lion Gastropub

The Phoenix area’s 4 locations will start serving the new dishes from July 8th – September 19th. Spicy Shrimp Ceviche and Seared Atlantic Sea Scallops are a couple of the new dishes. Cocktails including Raspberry Mint Mule-jito and Jalapeno Paloma Margarita are a couple of the new adult beverages available.

July 4th celebrations around Phoenix

As you can imagine many Phoenix restaurants and bars are celebrating the red, white & blue with traditional foods, beers and more. Have fun and stay safe. Happy birthday America.

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.

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