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.
Scottsdale goes on forever. I mean, like, you drive north and north and north and you think you’re in Flagstaff but you’r still not even at the end of Scottsdale. Somewhere up there is Local Bistro, which recently was named one of the 25 Best Burgers in Phoenix. Thus, while the menu had some intriguing options, I knew the burger had to be mine.
Scottsdale and breakfast go together like peas and carrots. Well, assuming those peas and carrots are nowhere near me. But having breakfast near me is good, so it became time to check out Ncounter in Scottsdale, its third location after presumably finding success in Tempe and Phoenix. I’m not sure what the “N” stands for, but the rest of the name is descriptive of the ordering style of the restaurant, so that made sense.
Kosher restaurants are a conundrum for me. I want to embrace them because of my Jewish heritage, but I also really want to mix dairy and meat, or throw in some bacon. But, Kosher restaurants have figured out a way to make the food palatable and I went to Kitchen18 in Scottsdale to find out just how palatable they could be.
Everybody just looooves the Fox Restaurant Group in Phoenix. But can there ever be too many Fox restaurants? I headed to The Greene House in Scottsdale’s Kierland Commons in my continuing quest to find out. The Greene House is a modern American restaurant showcasing things like salads, sandwiches, fish and chicken. As in most similar situations, my eyes went right for the burger.
How many agaves are too many? 10, 100, 1000? Cien Agaves seems to have settled on 100 as the right number. And, people seemed so happy with that number of agaves at the Old Town Scottsdale location that they decided to open a second location in north Scottsdale, technically bringing the total to doscientos agaves. But whatever, I was there for Mexican beer and Mexican food, not Mexican math.
Last week the Phoenix area hit 100 degrees for the first time this year and it was the fourth earliest date on record. Thus, one would think that the season for outdoor events would be coming to an end. One would be wrong, as this past weekend brought in the Scottsdale Culinary Fest and the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, an outdoor Taste of Chicago-esque festival showcasing food from all over the area and of all types.
Some were household names with tons of locations around the Valley of the Sun, like Grimaldi’s and Zoe’s, but others seemed a bit more special and I sought them out (along with some booze, of course).
The Italiano – Aioli Burger
I’d been hearing murmurings of how great this place was for a while now, and its victory at Burger Battle 2018 further cemented my desire to get there. This burger wasn’t perfect, nor would I expect it to be in such a situation, but the combination of mozzarella, bacon, basil garlic aioli, balsamic reduction and a discarded tomato made me more eager to seek out the real deal.
Steaks aren’t cheap. At least, that’s the tale we’ve all been told. But what if I told you that the beautiful ribeye steak to the left there was only $18? Well, it’s the truth. Because Tuesdays in Scottsdale are apparently not the most popular nights to go out, so Hand Cut Burgers Burgers and Chophouse offers its steaks for half off. Thus, on a night that I had been intending to order a burger, I found myself ordering that ribeye instead.
Once again, I found myself at one of the Phoenix area’s seemingly endless supply of breakfast/brunch spots. This time it was a place called Scramble in Scottsdale. Scramble is one of those places where you order at the counter, which is all good and well until there’s only one person at the counter with a line out the door and a bunch of empty tables inside. But I digress, as even with that wait to order it probably took just as long to get my food as it would have if I had sat down and ordered at the table.
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.