Fogo de Chao adapts to a new reality amid Covid 19

When restaurants shut down dining rooms in March due to Covid 19 they had to rely on takeout and delivery until the lock down ended in May. Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chao was no different furloughing 90% of staff with managers becoming cooks, order takers and delivery drivers. The restaurant offered Fogo to Go butchered raw meats, meals to go, catered off site meals for small groups and Caipirinha cocktail kits. Management at the headquarters in Dallas were devising a plan for locations throughout the country as how to adapt to the new reality when dine-in service resumed.

Fogo de Chao is known for its generous assortment of meats skewered and served table side by gauchos but also for its generous assortment of cold salads, meats and cheeses at it salad bar. That’s where it biggest challenge would be on how to serve guests who were used to making their way to the salad bar stocked with over 30 items.fogo de chao

The new normal at Fogo de Chao

A recent visit to the Scottsdale location I found out what has changed since they re-opened for dine-in service last month. The changes were obvious once you enter to restaurant, hostess’s and all employees wear face masks, a poster board next to the hostess stand reviews their commitment to health and safety and fewer tables in the dining room for social distancing. Gone were menus, salt & pepper shakers and the green (Go) and red (Stop) coaster cards diners use to let gauchos know whether to approach you for more meat.

As for the buffet, selections have been reduced. Servers now bring a charcuterie board of meats, cheeses and olives followed by courses of salads to choose from. Gauchos continue to roam the room carving slices of beef, chicken, pork and lamb to your heart’s desire as they did prior to Covid 19. Only difference is they approach you asking if you’d like more meat.

Fogo continues to offer Fogo- to-Go’s butcher shop, catering with curbside pick-up and contact-less delivery. Summer promotions are being finalized and I will update as soon I as I hear what they are.

The Scottsdale location is at 6300 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85250. The restaurant offers full service dining as well as group dining, an outdoor patio and bar. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner & brunch on weekends. For more information and to make a reservation head to their website.

Kasai Japanese Steakhouse re-opens with a new look

When Kasai Japanese Steakhouse re-opens on Tuesday June 16th guests will notice a new look and a new streamlined menu. The highlight of the new look are 4 new hood-less teppanyaki tables, a first in Arizona. With the new tables the restaurant will have 14 tables to accommodate 146 people. Most tables are in the back of the restaurant but the new ones are in the front so all can see the fire and fun.

“We are thrilled to be able to give more of what everyone loves with the expansion of our highly successful teppanyaki program,” said owner, Mike Russello. “Our guests want that high-energy dining experience that they look forward to when they come to Kasai”. Included in the new look is a more open and inviting floor plan.

The Scottsdale restaurant has a new streamlined menu including thinly sliced Kasai Filet Carpaccio and the favorite Mongolian Lamb Chops. The teppanyaki menu offers over 50 dinners & combinations served in seven courses. The fun at the tables starts with the energetic chefs offering fresh made food & flare. New custom cocktails include Violet Solstice, made with Hendricks Mid-Summer Solstice Gin, Crème de Violette, and fresh lemon juice. The P. King cocktail (in honor of original owner Patrick King) is made with Toki Japanese whiskey, lychee liqueur, fresh lime juice & bitters.

Kasai Japanese Steakhouse serves dinner starting at 4 p.m. and happy hour from 4 – 6:30. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. & Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. Kasai is at 14344 N. Scottsdale Rd. For more information visit their website or Facebook page.

 

Pomo Pizza serving Pinsa and more at Biltmore Fashion Park

The popular Pomo Pizzeria has opened a spin off to its award winning pizza at the Biltmore Fashion Park. Pomo Pizza specializes in Pinsa, Pizza Romana and classic styled pizza but won’t be serving the Neapolitan style that the Pizzeria serves.

“We are excited to introduce Pomo Pizzeria’s younger sister, Pomo Pizza, to the community,” owner Stefano Fabbri says. “There has been demand for quite some time to introduce a concept like this to the Biltmore and we are thrilled offer classic Italian cuisine to our guests in a casual atmosphere.”

Pomo Pizza

What is Pinsa and Pizza Romana at Pomo?

Pinsa Romana is a focaccia styled flatbread that was being made before pizza. Pomo Pizza is one of the only restaurants featuring this style of dough. The lighter and easily digested dough is leavened for 72 hours and offers a uniquely flavorful taste. Pizza Romana is a traditional thick focaccia pizza with a crisp bottom and airy middle. Pomo pizza will also serve a traditional round, hand tossed and oven baked dough for a thin and crispy pizza.

“The Pinsa Romana is a dish that is currently trending in Italy and is an old recipe passed down from Roman times,” Fabbri says. “The focaccia flatbread contains soy and rice flour, which is non-GMO and lowers its gluten content to provide for a light, airy taste and allows for the ingredients and sauce to really stand out. Our other new menu item, Pizza Romana, is a truly authentic Italian dish that is made with natural yeast and 48 hours of leavening-maturation.”

The restaurant will serve pizzas such as the Arcadia Meat Market Pinsa and the vegetarian Er Patata Pizza Romana. Pasta dishes, Italian appetizers, bruschetta, fresh salads and paninis are also being served.

The full service restaurant serves pizza from an open kitchen and has a full bar and pet friendly patio. Pomo Pizza is open 7 days a week opening at 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Sunday thru Thursday and til 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour runs every day from 3 – 6 p.m. and offers 1/2 price on beer, wine and cocktails. Reverse happy hour is offered from 8 p.m. til closing on weekdays and 9 p.m. til closing on weekends.

For more information see their website and visit the restaurant at 2602 E. Camelback Rd. #148 A & B Phoenix 85016.

Salut Kitchen Bar owner shows his European flair with new look

When Romain Lauro bought Salut Kitchen Bar two years ago he brought with him over 25 years of restaurant experience. For the Lyon, France native his love for food came early, at the age of 3 and easily as Lyon is the capital of the food world. Much of his life Lauro worked for his father serving ice cream at young age then taking over at his father’s fine dining restaurant Comme en Provence. He sold the restaurant after 20 years to fulfill his dream of coming to the United States.

“As a longtime restaurant owner in France, I am committed to bringing the elements of the high-quality dining experience to Salut Kitchen Bar,” said Lauro. “From adding new lights to changing the interior to a light, relaxing color scheme, I want Salut to be a place guests can enjoy an affordable, but delicious scratch made meal in a comfortable atmosphere.”

Salut Kitchen Bar
Saltimbocca di Marsala. All photos courtesy of PBS Studio 3 and Amanda Moore at Evolve Marketing.

What’s new at Salut Kitchen Bar

Salut Wine Bar is known for scratch made Mediterranean and American cuisine and been awarded “Best Wine Bar in Tempe”. Known for bruschetta, salads, sandwiches, gourmet tapas and an extensive wine list from around the world.

Most changes guest will see are to the interior and exterior of the restaurant. Wood accents, new lighting, landscaping and more will give guests an excellent wine and dining experience. Chef Trayton Hutchinson oversees the kitchen and makes sure the food is up to Lauro’s high standards.

Salut Kitchen Bar offers daily lunches for $9.99, daily happy hour from 3 -6 p.m. and weekly specials. Wednesday’s give guests the opportunity to choose a bruschetta board or Salut sampler & a bottle of wine for $25. Weekend brunch is offered from 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Salut Kitchen Bar is at 1435 E. University Dr. Tempe 85281. For more information and to stay up to date on weekly specials visit their website.

 

Copper Mule Kitchen & Bar opens in north Scottsdale

Regional cuisine is served up at a restaurant that recently opened in north Scottsdale. Copper Mule Kitchen & Bar is owned R Squared Restaurant Concepts’ Christi & James Rice and James’s brother and sister in-law John & Erin Rucker. Their New American menu is full of dishes from states that the 4 have previously lived of New York, Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico & Arizona.

“Through the places we have lived before Scottsdale, we’ve grabbed flavors from our life experiences,” says co-owner Christi Rice. “Our menu and our specialty cocktails express all the culinary adventures we’ve had and what we’ve learned about food in other areas of the country. We also have fun infusing spirits into our culinary creations.”

All photos courtesy of Christi Rice

Copper Mule Kitchen & Bar serves lunch and dinner daily with happy hour in between from 3-6 p.m. Guests can expect dishes such as the Cay Shrimp Salad, Lemon Dill Grilled Salmon, Midwest Angus Beef Burger and AZ Ale Fish & Chips along with pitas, sandwiches salads and more. $2 off all appetizers during happy hour includes favorites Montauk Fried Olives, Delta Deviled Eggs and chicken wings.

With a name like Copper Mule it comes as no surprise the cocktail menu offers 9 mule cocktails. Irish and Kentucky Mule’s join signature cocktails from around the country including The Georgia Peach, The Tipsy Texan and more.

The family friendly, reasonably priced restaurant has a dog friendly patio. The Copper Mule Kitchen & bar is at 23335 N. Scottsdale Rd. Scottsdale 85255. For more information and to see the menu check pout their website.

Barrel & Bushel to open with the Biggest Patio Party

A new downtown eatery will be celebrating its long anticipated opening January 22nd with a big party. The “Biggest Patio Party” goes from 3 – 7 p.m. when Barrel & Bushel opens at the corner of 2nd St. & Adams welcoming the neighborhood with an all-day happy hour and more.

“Barrel & Bushel welcomes locals as the newest neighborhood hangout,” said General Manager Danielle Klus. “There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a beer fan, cocktail aficionado or just looking for a great meal in a casual yet buzzy environment.”

Chef Chelsea Cummings menu offers American comfort food with her personal twist. Dishes such as 72 Hour Pork Belly, Waffles & Ribs and a Bloody Mary Burger should make this a popular eatery in downtown Phoenix. At the bar you’ll find 11 Arizona beers on tap along with creative craft cocktails including “Tell Your Friends”. The unique cocktail features basil infused gin with St. Germain and peach. Deep selections of bourbon, rye & whiskey will also be offered.

During the Biggest Patio Party guests will enjoy complimentary passed bites, happy hour pricing and more. Barrel & Bushel expects to attract not only locals but downtown visitors and convention goers with its laid back atmosphere. The restaurant will offer lunch and dinner along with late night fare.

Barrel & Bushel is at 122 N. 2nd St. Phoenix 85004 and is open daily from 11 a.m. – midnight with happy hour from 3:30- 6:30 p.m Monday – Friday. For more information check out their website.

CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa offers guests and locals culinary delights

In the northern part of the “Valley of the Sun” sits the village of Carefree, home to CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa. The AAA Four Diamond award resort offers guests and locals the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate from everyday life. Whether you prefer to pamper yourself at the spa, relieve stress through art or spirituality or tempt your palate with sips and bites from the resorts culinary team the resort has your best interest in mind this holiday season.

Whether you prefer to dine morning, noon or night, the resort’ signature restaurant Terras and Executive Chef Justin Macy offer several unique dining opportunities and events. Holiday dining, learning to cooking something new or visiting with out of town friends on the patio overlooking the Sonoran desert this line-up will keep you and your appetite satisfied.

Holiday Dining

Celebrate the holidays with healthy, yet indulgent culinary creations at Terras. Holiday dinners will celebrate the season’s best flavors with an exclusive prix-fixe menu complete with all the trimmings. Seating’s start at 5:00 p.m. with pricing ranging from $65 per adult and $32 per child.

  • Thanksgiving Dinner – November 28, 2019
  • Christmas Dinner – December 25, 2019
  • New Year’s Eve Celebration Dinner – December 31, 2019
CIVANA Wellness Resort and Spa
All photos courtesy of CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa

Half-Off Happy Hour

The happiest of hours is available daily 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Terras, featuring half off all beer, house wine & well cocktails along with all bar menu bites

Sunday Brunch

Make Terras the new Sunday morning tradition and indulge in a variety of healthy and comfort classics from yogurt parfaits, breakfast goods, savory creations to decadent charcuterie boards and top it off with a glass of champagne.

  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • $25 per person

Private Chef’s Table Experience

An intimate four-course dining experience at Terras for three to six people featuring a four-course dinner highlighting the season’s best ingredients and perfectly paired wine. Each night features a different Chef’s choice menu.

  • Available Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • $150 per person

Tequila Sunset

Enjoy the epic Carefree sunset nightly on the Terras Terrace with a rainbow Tequila flight and choice of 3 tacos (steak, fish or chicken)

  • Available daily from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • $20 per person

Bottle & Board

Choose from a variety of Chef Justin Macy’s featured charcuterie boards, along with a bottle of vino for a perfect shareable evening at the Terras Lounge.

  • Available daily from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • $25 per person

CIVANA Culinary School

The CIVANA Culinary team spotlights tips and tricks to create health-conscious, delicious recipes. Choose from a variety of classes available to resort guests and the public.

  • Sustainable Juicing Class
  • Shake and Stir Cocktail Class
  • Soulful Soups
  • Bake Shop 101
  • Vines to Wines
  • Culinary Clinic

To make reservations for holiday dining & classes, spa & wellness packages and for staying at CIVANA visit their website.

CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa is at 37220 Mule Train Rd. Carefree 85377. 480-653-9000

Upscale Mexican restaurant Toca Madera has opened.

A year and a half after I posted about it, the upscale Mexican restaurant Toca Madera has opened at Scottsdale Fashion Square. The Madera Group from West Hollywood is behind Toca Madera and its sister restaurants, the quick casual Tocaya Organica. Tocaya has two locations in the Phoenix area at Kierland Commons and next door to Toca.

Sashimi Mexicano

Co-founders Tosh Berman and Amrou Manaseer spared no expense at the 8,000 square foot Toca Madera. A lush courtyard with a retractable roof for patio dining leads to the dining room with the exhibition kitchen. Natural light from skylight breathes life onto the Ficus trees in the restaurants. A lounge with full bar is located off the courtyard serving signature margaritas and cocktails.

“At our Scottsdale location, we want guests to feel as though they’re stepping into another reality,” CEO Berman said. “From the sophisticated design to the theatrical spirit through which we serve food and beverage, every element has been precisely chosen to provide an unparalleled dining experience. The community has been incredibly supportive since opening Tocaya next door so we’re excited to introduce another one of our concepts to the area.”

Baja Rosa

Executive Chef Joseph Castillo comes to Toca Madera from the nearby Sushi Roku at the W Hotel. Castillo, a native of southern California goes from upscale sushi and Japanese food to an upscale Mexican cuisine. His culinary team creates signature dishes such as Enchiladas de Mole, Tiger Shrimp Tacos and Pescado de Dia (seafood of the day).

Dinner starts at 5 p.m., the lounge opens at 4 for happy hour and weekend brunch begins on November 9th. To view the menu and for more information check out https://www.tocamadera.com/

 

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row rolls out all day menu

A new all day menu was rolled out at the downtown Gilbert location of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row earlier this month. The new menu offers lighter and healthy options which include vegetarian and seafood dishes among popular favorites.

all day
Buffalo Cauliflower

New dishes include spicy Buffalo Cauliflower, Spinach & Berry Salad, Roasted Chicken Primavera and Grilled Salmon Jambalaya. Fans of the Tennessee Hot Slider, Fried Pickles and Southern Fries don’t need to worry as those guilty pleasures are still on the menu.

The American gastropub has also extended it happy hour to run all day Monday – Friday. Food and drinks specials start at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. During Sidewalks Fridays they’ve extended happy hour until 9 p.m.

Salmon Jambalaya sub grilled shrimp

Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row is at 323 N. Gilbert Rd. Gilbert 85234. To see the full menu head to their website.

Back exploring food and more in Boston and Cape Cod

If you’ve followed this blog for a few years you would’ve seen a post or two from my visits to Cape Cod. Well I’m back for another visit by way of Boston for the week to escape the Arizona heat. After my first 3 days I have enough to tell you about from my morning in Boston to the days on The Cape.

Breakfast in Boston

I flew into Boston early Saturday morning and was greeted by my friend who re-located from Phoenix to the Boston area 20 years ago. It was pretty early so we decided to head into the city to wake up and made our way to the newly built Seaport District along Boston Harbor. On the south-side of downtown Boston the Seaport District is full of high rise office and apartment buildings, restaurants and attractions. The big attraction for us was the Harbor Walk that led us towards Boston’s North End for breakfast.

Italian market in Boston’s North End

The North End is Boston’s “Little Italy” neighborhood full of narrow streets lined with Italian markets and restaurants. We made our to Theo’s Cozy Corner for breakfast on Salem St. The small cash only breakfast joint serves up traditional breakfast fare at good prices. Eggs, pancakes, etc and good portions Theo’s was full of neighborhood regulars and a few of us outsiders looking to start our day. My friend and I both went with corned beef hash with 3 eggs, home fries and toast. A good choice leaving us both satisfied.

No trip to the North End is complete without a stop at Mike’s Pastry for cannoli for a my mid-morning snack. We also stopped into a traditional Italian market for sliced prosciutto and other meats and fresh bread.

After a walk back along the harbor to the car we headed to the south bay so I could continue down to the Cape.

Saturday and Sunday on the Cape

For years my family has been spending a few weeks every August in Harwichport which is on the south side on Nantucket Bay on a part of the cape that is considered Mid-Cape. A cute town we venture to restaurants to get our fill of fresh seafood. Whether it’s $1 oysters for happy hour at The Port or trying to find the “Best” lobster roll we have our favorites and are always on the lookout for new restaurants to try.

By the time I arrived in mid-afternoon Saturday I was ready to get my fresh seafood feast going. My nephew, brother-in-law and I went across the street to The Port for the $1 oysters from Chatham and Wellfleet. The week before I hear they polished off 90 oysters during one sitting but that wasn’t going to happen on this day as the restaurant was shorthanded with shuckers and we weren’t the only ones there for happy hour. 48 oysters were good enough to satisfy us on this day.

Oysters at The Port in Harwichport

Most days on the cape are lazy with a later start than had I been home in Arizona. Sunday morning started out foggy(the weather, not me) but by late morning the sun was out we’re off to Bank St. beach for a little sand and sun. After a few hours on the beach it was back to relax and decide where to do dinner. We decided it was time to get lobster rolls so we made our way to the Sesuit Harbor Cafe in Dennis. Sesuit on the north side of the cape about a 15 minute drive from Harwichport. Like other “seafood shacks” on the Cape and in New England, Sesuit Harbor Cafe offers fried, broiled or raw seafood. Place your order, find a table outside and wait for the servers bring your food. It’s fast casual before fast casual became a restaurant trend.

Lobster rolls for most of us were served with fries and cole slaw, my nephew went with half a broiled lobster. All were happy as we sat among the sea gulls, marina plotting our next move. We saved room for desert and made our way for homemade ice cream at Schoolhouse Ice Cream in Harwichport.

Sunday or Monday its all the same

When you’re on vacation all the days run together and you realize the work week has begun when the weekenders head back. Not us as Monday has us sleeping in, getting coffee and starting the day. After coffee and my morning walk I made my way to Brew’s Coffee Bar & Beer Garden for breakfast. Disappointing as they stopped serving many of the breakfast sandwiches I remember from 2017.  Only 4 choices to choose from that we’re pre-made and warmed up. My egg and bacon burrito was good but not really worth the $9 I paid for it.

Lunch had me craving fried oysters so I drove down the road to the Original Seafood Restaurant in Dennisport. The place has been around since the 1950s and had the old school drive-in feel. Seafood, burgers, hot dogs and more, my fried oyster craving was fulfilled.

Oyster roll at The Original Seafood Restaurant in Dennisport

After a lazy afternoon walking off my lunch and visiting with family it was time to think about dinner. My nephew and I were on our own and debated which pizza place to go to. The debate was George’s or Ember Pizza and Wings. Ember won out since we’ve never been so we decided to try their coal fired charred pizza. Getting their early before the dinner rush we ordered boneless Buffalo wings which were chicken tenders tossed in Buffalo sauce. Not my idea of wings and going forward I will always order bone-in wings.

Since my nephew doesn’t eat anything green most vegetables were out so we went with the Meat Lovers Pizza. Topped with bacon, sausage, pepperoni and meatballs the thin crust pizza was good and service was good too. Time for a walk and a relaxing Sunday night before we start another day on the Cape.

Check back for more eating adventures and exploring for the next few days. For more images of my trip follow me on Instagram @SandyWass