Nothing really says “awesome” quite like “family friendly brewery.” Such places are the best of both worlds, contributing to the cycle of having babies because you drink, then drinking because you have babies. New Holland Brewing on 8th Street in Holland, Michigan is one such place. Renowned for its beer, it has a comfortable back patio for kids to hang out at and one very attractive menu.
The Sicilian Butcher is hardly the first restaurant to make a variety of meatballs its centerpiece. Yet, it most likely is the best-decorated of any such restaurants. It treats meatballs much as a build your own burger treats…well…burgers. You pick a meat, you pick a sauce and you pick what the Sicilian Butcher calls a bottom. You can order the meatballs bottomless, but this is highly misleading as they come without a base as opposed to being unlimited. After much consideration, I opted for a bottom.
You probably wouldn’t expect Phoenix to be the most Italian of cities. After all, there is not Little Italy and the Mafia is more of an East Coast thing. Yet, Phoenix definitely has some homegrown Italian favorites and Babbo is one of these. Babbo invited me out to its Scottsdale location for a hosted dinner and I took them up on the chance to check it out.
Everyone knows that the best pasta in the world is gnocchi, but what about the best pasta sauce? Sure, pesto is great and bolognese makes a strong claim, but can anyone actually dispute the supremacy of carbonara? It is perfectly fit for an unvegan, and when I paid a visit to Picazzo’s in Phoenix, I couldn’t think of ordering anything else.
I’m a sucker for gnocchi. If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know this. You also know that I will even forego meat to get some delicious gnocchi. Thus, I was happy to find that Stone and Vine in Scottsdale had itself some gnocchi on the menu. It was called Gnocchi Pomodoro, which obviously means that it had tomato in some way (in this case sauce), but also came with fresh mozzarella.
Once upon a time there was a sub-genre of movies called Spaghetti Westerns. They were Western movies that were produced by Italians, making them look and feel different from your more traditional Westerns. Old Town Scottsdale is kind of set up to look like the old west. And in Old Town Scottsdale is an old school Italian place called Italian Grotto. It’s like spaghetti in the west, but there is good, bad and ugly about it.
Being in the media has its advantages. Case in point: getting to check out the menu and beers at SanTan Brewing Company in Chandler. For this event, SanTan wanted to highlight beer pairings and the normal menu without any specials, but also showed off the backroom where the brewing is actually done. Unlike other breweries I’ve been to, we were encouraged to bring a beer along for the tour, and that beer was the StrataBlaster IPA, part of the brewery’s pilot series and a great place to start.
Sauce has been a staple in the Phoenix area for a good amount of years now. And it’s a good thing that it’s established itself, as other fast casual pizza spots have been sweeping the nation. And while Sauce is about more than just pizza (they have pasta and salads too), it’s the pizza that drew me, and presumably almost everyone else in.
Phoenix may not seem like a pizza town, but it unquestionably has some great stuff. There’s Pizzeria Bianco, of course, but also a number of other pizza places that have made Phoenix their second homes. Call them snowbird pizzas if you want. Humble Pie is one that has seen success in the area with a few locations. I headed to the one at Desert Ridge to see what it was all about.
The world has a few different styles of pizza: New York, Italian, Chicago, Detroit, etc. Yet, it takes a bold pizza purveyor to deliver something that doesn’t quite fit into a predetermined style. Mancino’s Pizza, which seems to have a series of somewhat affiliated locations around the midwest, has done just that. It was in Petoskey, Michigan that I snagged one of these pizzas for the first time.