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.

 

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.

Cooper’s Hawk Winery opens 2nd Arizona location

The one stop wine shop, tasting bar & full service restaurant open their 2nd location in Chandler next Monday September 27th. It’s their second location to open in less than a year as they opened in north Scottsdale in December 2020. See my Instagram for my sneak peek tour and tasting.

Today is Press Coffee’s “Day of Giving”

The locally owned coffee roaster & cafe is looking to raise $25,000 at its 8 valley locations today. This annual event is raising money for Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) and is donating 100% of today’s profits from on-line & in-store sales with other valley businesses offering to match Press’s donation.

Wren House Brewing beer pairing dinner at Liberty Tavern next week.

The tavern & smokehouse location at Terravita hosts a dinner with the local brewer’s craft beers paired with chef crafted dishes. On the evening of Wednesday, September 29th guests will enjoy 4 -courses that include Beer Battered Fish & Chips, Smoked Brisket Mole and more for $55++. Reservations are required and space is limited. Visit their website for more information.

Fired Pie is holding a hiring fair September 29th

The expanding fast casual pizzeria is looking to hire 2-3 people at each of its 21 locations around Phoenix and is welcoming people to come in and apply & interview next Wednesday. Back & front of the house, managers and shift leaders have openings and those interested can head to any location from 1:30- 6 p.m. on the 29th. Pay is up to $15/ hour plus $45 bonus after 45 days on the job. Shift meals and other benefits are are offered.

The Italian Daughter launches new dinner menu

The newish Italian restaurant in north Scottsdale has added several new dishes to it extensive menu. Look for dishes such as Prosciutto Wrapped Shrimp, Sicilian Seafood Salad, A Mozzarella Tasting Board, a 12 oz. Chicken Breast Marsala & Short Rib Porcini Ravioli and more.

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.

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.

Grand Canyon Brewery & Distillery’s RTD are the states best selling

The William’s brewer & distiller started distilling Ready to Drink (RTD) in 2019 and in 2021 their the state’s largest producer of locally made RTD’s. Their current line-up includes Orange Blossom Vodka Soda, Prickly Pear Vodka Soda, Orange Blossom Vodka Mule, Cuba Libre and Gin & Tonic. Look for them at Safeway & Total Wine. For more information see their website or check Beer Finder to find out where to get them.

Best of Downtown Tempe stroll happening Saturday Aug. 28th

Foodies can spend Saturday afternoon strolling Mill Ave. and the surrounding neighborhood’s best restaurants tasting & sipping on food & drinks. From 1 – 5 p.m. over 15 restaurants have created special dishes for the day for between $8-$10. Several locally owned specialty retailers are also participating. To get your $5 access pass and more information visit their website.

Bandanas for Humane Society at Z’Tejas this weekend

The southwestern cuisine restaurant with a location in Scottsdale & Chandler is supporting National Dog Day all weekend selling special dog bandanas. Each bandana is $15 and proceeds are being donated to the animal friendly non-profit.

Blue Adobe Grille taken over by Vicino’s Local Italian, will close for quick re-model

The Santa Fe style restaurant open since 2000 looks to be now owned by the owners of the nearby popular Italian restaurant. Vicino’s says Blue Adobe will be closing Monday August 30th and re-opening for dinner on Friday September 3rd after new floors, walls and kitchen equipment are installed. A new drink list and more advantageous happy hour menu coming soon after.

The Prime Rib prix-fixe is back at Paul Martin’s American Grill

Every Monday – Wednesday get 3 courses of seasonal house salad, slow roasted prime rib & chocolate cake for only $39.95 at the Scottsdale restaurant. To make a reservation follow this link.

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.

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week launches mid-September

Two of the valley’s vegan advocates have come together to launch the first Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week September 12th- 18th. Chef & author Jason Wyrick and vegan taste maker and owner of Phoenix Vegan Jozh Watson launched the week long culinary event to bring more attention to plant- based restaurants, foods & cooking.

According to Wyrick, “Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week is a celebration of plant-based cuisine in Phoenix. We want to raise awareness about everything vegan that’s now available in our city, get everyone excited, and out-and-about trying all of the great dining options.”

Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week
Simon’s Hot Dogs. Feature photo Maya’s Cajun Cuisine’s Po’ Boy

How Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week works?

The pair are encouraging restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, food trucks and others to showcase their plant-based cooking and more. During the week participants will be offering a specially created menu with breakfast & lunch offering at $20 and a 3-course dinner menu at $30.

“We want to position Greater Metro Phoenix as a premier, inclusive dining destination,” said Watson.

During the week diners can experience the growing Phoenix plant-based food scene visiting new establishments or returning to familiar ones. A a few of the participating eateries include: Beaut Burger, Brunch & Sip, Chilte, Dilla Libre, Early Bird Vegan, Earth Plant-Based, Giving Tree Café, Ground Control, Hot Sauce & Pepper, Maya’s Cajun Kitchen, Pachamama, Positively Frosted, Salvadoreno Restaurant, Shameless Burger, Simon’s Hot Dogs, The Nile Coffee Shop, Urban Beans Café, Tesoro Vegano, The Vegan Taste, Verdura, and Wok this Way.

According to Wyrick, “Restaurants are experimenting more with vegan cuisine and showcasing some really great offerings. Phoenix Vegan Restaurant Week allows them to cater to a growing clientele and test the waters for expanding their vegan selections.” For more information and to see additional participants head to 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.

It’s OK to drink pink on National Rosé Day

You don’t need a reason to drink rosé but if you do tomorrow June 12th is the day. These restaurants are celebrating the light & refreshing wine. 1/2 price bottles all day at Thirsty Lion Gastropub, Humble Bistro, 25% off bottles at The Montauk and 10% off bottles & 50% off glasses all day at LDV Winery.

International Falafel Day at Pita Jungle

Rosé goes great with falafel and Saturday the 12th celebrates the Mediterranean dish and the locally owned fast casual restaurants offers 3 dishes, Falafel Pita, Falafel Bowl and a Falafel Salad.

Saturday June 12th is also World Gin Day

The aromatic & botanical white spirit know for Gin & Tonics, Martinis and more is being hailed around Phoenix area restaurants and bar. Head to Zinqué, Blue Clover Distillery, Belle’s Nashville Kitchen, The Sicilian Butcher, The Italian Daughter, CRUjiente Tacos and The Wine Store to raise your glass. Cheers!!

The above establishments will also be celebrating National Bourbon Day a couple days later on Monday June 14th. Phoenix City Grille celebrates with a $12 Bourbon Luxardo Smash.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria its seasonal summertime menu

All locations recently rolled out the new menu that is available until September 7th for dine-in, take-out or 3rd party delivery. Enjoy the Barbecue Chicken Pizza, Strawberry Spinach Salad, Strawberry Cheesecake and cocktails that include a Watermelon Mule and Summertime Sangria.

Match Market & Bar celebrates National Pride Month all month

The signature restaurant, market & bar inside the Found:RE Hotel in downtown Phoenix is cooking up and serving a colorful rainbow cake for June. Slices of the multi layered white cake are $15 with portion of sales going to the local Pride Chapter, Phoenix Pride.

Don’t forget to check my podcast, Pulling Corks & Forks: The Podcast with Sandy Wasserman to hear from those in our community. Please subscribe, like & comment.

 

 

Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen opens 6th location

Arizona and family -owned Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen opened its newest restaurant in Gilbert with a limited schedule. Currently opened Thursday – Sunday the new location will gradually open on other days in the coming weeks. Picazzo’s originally started in Sedona serving organic and healthy pizzas, salads and other Italian specialties but in the years since have grown to include the flavors of Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican ingredients.

“We can’t wait to welcome the Gilbert community to Picazzo’s!” says Picazzo’s Operations Manager, Chris Disney. It’s our pleasure to offer a variety of vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and allergy-friendly items. Families can enjoy a meal at Picazzo’s and get their favorite dishes, whether they have special dietary needs or preferences or not. We’ve actually had guests cry with happiness when they realize they can order exactly what they want, how they want it!”

The menu in Gilbert is the same as the other locations and includes 95% organic ingredients for its pizzas, pastas, entrees, salads and more. Guests will notice a new modern look that will be rolled out to the other restaurants in the future.  A separate vegan menu is available using plant- based ingredients from Follow Your Heart, Daiya and Beyond Meat.

Picazzo’s new modern look

The restaurant’s spacious 4,300 square feet includes a roll-up garage door connecting the indoors and outdoors. “We thought a lot about our consumer when designing the new restaurant,” explains Disney. “That means creating a space that can accommodate solo diners and couples just as easily as large families. We also focused on selecting aesthetically pleasing textures and surfaces on everything from countertops to walls to the patio decking. We think our guests are going to love the experience here – and we hope they take advantage of the Instagram-worthy setting for taking photos with family and friends!”

Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen is at 884 E. Williams Field Rd. Gilbert 85295 with the other locations in Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Tempe/Chandler, Arrowhead and Sedona. To find the location closest to you and to view the menu, 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.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria appreciates our nurses and teachers

Starting today all 7 locations in Arizona are offering 15% off for all the hardworking teachers and nurses for Nurse & Teacher Appreciation Week. Must show school or medical id to take advantage of this offer.

Tickets on sale for final TLC Experience dinner of the season

The May dinner goes indoors before they take the summer off on Sunday May 30th. The menu for the multi-course dinner is a surprise to guests but we do know as many locally sourced ingredients are used. Dinner at The Herberger Theatre Center in downtown Phoenix starts at 5 p.m. Single tickets are $150 and tables of 8 are $1,000. Click here for more information and to reserve your seat.

ARIDUS Wine Company offer 2 for 1 Sauvignon Blanc today only

Today is International Sauvignon Blanc Day and the Arizona winery selling its 2019 SB with a deal to celebrate. For $28 get 2 bottles of the crisp, white wine perfect for the warm weather ahead. Only available today, May 7th.

Miracle Mile Deli celebrates its 72 years in business with sandwich deal

Monday May 10th marks the milestone for the central Phoenix deli. All sandwiches (except the Triple Decker and Jax Special) for Miracle Mile Deli Day are $11 all day and every hour a $100 gift card will be given out from 12 p.m. – 7 p.m. A portion of the day’s proceeds will be donate to The Phoenix Theatre Company.

Happy Mother’s Day

Saving the best for last, wishing all the mothers a great day. The Phoenix restaurant community is rolling out the red carpet for mom on Sunday. Too many to mention but I’m sure her favorite restaurant is doing something special.

Honeybee Events & The Herb Box invite you to Summer & Wine dinner

With traveling to Italy still not possible with the continued caution around Covid-19, Honeybee Events & The Herb Box brings the Amalfi Coast to Scottsdale. The Vino ed Estate (Summer & Wine) Dinner on May 21st will transport you to the Mediterranean and immerse you in a 6-course dinner created by Chef Marissa Delgado and pairing it with wine and cocktails.

“We’ve crafted an elegant 6-course dinner with accompanied wine pairings to highlight the authentic Italian dishes featured for the evening. Our goal is to transport our guests to the Amalfi Coast for the night, and our specialty menu has been thoughtfully crafted to reflect this. One of the dishes we are featuring for the event is the Spaghetti alle Vongole – al dente spaghetti tossed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh baby clams, and finished with fresh parsley and parmesan. We’re excited to explore our culinary creativity with this refreshing coastal summer themed event.” says Delgado.

Live music will set the mood for night that begins at 6:45 p.m. at the Scottsdale restaurant. “The Herb Box is so excited to partner with Honeybee Events for Vino ed Estate (Summer + Wine) Dinner. This event will showcase our newly opened Scottsdale & Shea location with the the perfect, summer themed party. The Honeybee Events team consistently brings unique, innovative ideas to life. We’re looking forward to our ongoing partnership with them and making beautiful events available to the Scottsdale community.” says Susan Wilcox, Owner of the Herb Box.

Reserved seats are $205-$250 depending upon add-ons including small & large fresh floral bouquets inspired by the blooms of Sorrento are available for pre-purchase. Ticket options include the VIP Pavilion, reserved tables of 2 or 4 and General Admission. Tickets can be purchased and more information can be found at Eventbrite. The Herb Box is at 7000 E. Shea Blvd. Scottsdale 85254.

nomada Provisions, a local market opens in Phoenix

The culinary team at Scottsdale’s Nonna Urban Eatery has opened their newest venture nomada Provisions in central Phoenix. The local market will offer the neighborhood coffee, wine crafted foods and more 6 days a week. Owners Valentina Huerta and Chef Gian Franco Brugaletta hope to spark customer’s creative side offering unique labels of cheeses, charcuterie, oils & vinegar and other high end pantry items.

“As we reach a pivotal point for the food and beverage industry, in a post pandemic world, we feel a ‘nomadic’ approach to food is much more aligned with today’s reality,” says Huerta of their new concept. “nomada is intended to allow consumers to explore, travel and dream through food and beverages as ingredients in addition to creating a practical way to access fresh carefully crafted, ready-made options for those with little time to cook. In a way, nomada will continue a primordial love affair with all things gourmet, bon viveur and bon vivant.”

nomada Provisions food & beverage offerings

The market will have ready-made foods, heat & serve foods and retail products with the gourmet foodie and home chef in mind.

Menu items include Dips & Spreads – Hummus, Baba Ganoush and Chicken & Duck Rillette. Seasonal Salads and Bowls featuring a variety of fresh and grilled vegetables, whole grains, salmon and more. “In-Betweens” including the Hummus and Vegetable Wrap and the Chicken Caesar Wrap. Proteins include Half Roasted Chicken or the Duo of Pan Seared Salmon. Fresh pasta will be available including Beet Campanelle, Tagliatelle and Squid Ink or Turmeric Rigatoni complemented by Nonna’s Tomato Sauce, Creamy Parmesan Sauce or Pesto. A variety of sushi and weekly soup will also be on the menu.

The couple is fond of coffee and wine and consider them magical beverages that transport you around the world. Guests can enjoy a cup of coffee, espresso, cappuccino or an Americano while shopping or linger in the cozy coffee lounge. The Arabica and robust beans are hand picked from passionate farmers in the country of origin. Lesser known varietals of wines from small producers from around the world will be stocked to compliment foods without breaking the bank.

nomada Provisions is at 3410 N. 24th St. Phoenix 85016. They are open Tuesday – Sunday from 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. A full menu and information can be found at 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.

Toys for Tacos at Mr. Mesquite Taqueria

All 7 locations are collecting toys in exchange for tacos until December 31st. Bring in a toy, clothes or learning tool for The Academic Opportunity of Arizona and get a free taco for the day of drop off.

Monday night is Date Night at Tommy V’s Urban Kitchen

The downtown Scottsdale restaurant invites couples to join them on Monday’s for dinner for $50. Starting at 4 p.m. each twosome will get 2 pasta entrees, 2 salads and a pre-selected bottle of wine. Reservations required and must mention Date Night Special for special price. 480-427-2264.

Holiday tamales available from Los Sombreros

Order by the dozen for pick-up by December 24th. Mix & match Green Corn, Pineapple, Tomatillo Chicken, Rajas, Carnitas & Red Beef Chile. All tamales are using produce from local farms. Order at their website.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria now available from ghost kitchen

Pizza to go is now available at Kitchen United MIX in Scottsdale. Order on-line and have the same delicious pizza and more made fresh and ready for pick-up or delivery.

Merkin Vineyards launches monthly Sunday brunch

This Sunday December 6th in Scottsdale will be the first brunch offered at the wine bar. The first Sunday of every month several dishes will be offered that use ingredients grown at its vineyards, gardens and orchards in the Verde Valley. Wines and Mimosas will be available to compliment your food.