Category Archives: Melissa

La Piazza Al Forno

So, it’s another Saturday and the big question looms: What are we going to do for dinner tonight? We wanted to try something new and we love discovering local, quaint little Italian spots. These two things added up to La Piazza Al Forno. I had read that it had Guy Fieri’s stamp of approval on Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives, so we decided, “What the heck, let’s give it a try.”

This little gem is located in the Historic District of Glendale, which totally enhances the quaint factor. We only had about a 20-30 wait and was it ever worth it! It didn’t take me long to settle on the Baked 4 Cheese Ravioli while my husband opted for their Margherita Pizza. His pizza was really, really good, but my ravioli was AMAZING! In fact, it’s best I’ve had in a long time. And there was plenty left over for lunch the next day. Before we even left the restaurant, I was dreaming of more ravioli (and I’m not really a left over kind of person).

Well, we couldn’t leave without dessert. We decided to just go for it and ordered two, to share of course. The Chocolate Cannoli was yummy, especially the filling, and the Italian Almond Wine Cake was downright melt-in-your-mouth dreamy.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the service was really good too – friendly and quick. Oh, and it’s very reasonable. So, the next time you’re looking for an Italian fix, head to La Piazza Al Forno.

La Piazza Al Forno
5803 W. Glendale Avenue
Glendale, AZ 85307
www.lapiazzaalforno.com

Kierland Commons

 

If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s S-H-O-P! And Kierland Commons happens to be one of the places I enjoy the most. I love it’s selection of stores along with its openess and beautiful setting. It really sets the mood for a great day of shopping. They also have an amazing selection of restaurants, so there’s always a place to rest your feet and refuel between stores (never underestimate the need to refuel during a shopping excursion – energy is crucial).

My most recent visit to Kierland Commons was for Fashion’s Night Out. I needed a little retail therapy after a long week and this was the perfect solution. Kierland is fun any time of day, but evening is especially “magical” with all of the white lights, people strolling around and patios full of happy hour aficionados. Thanks to the celebratory nature of Fashion’s Night Out, there was music playing, drinks flowing, deals to be had and a slew of live models showing off the latest must-haves for Fall. The stores really got into the spirit of the evening (Note: although tempting, I steered clear of drinking and shopping – it’s hazardous to my wallet!).

Kierland truly has a little bit of everything. Some of my favorite stores include Anthropologie, The French Bee, Michael Kors and Charles David. Of course, they also have the good ol’ stand bys like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware, J. Crew, LOFT, Banana Republic and Tommy Bahama (which includes the Cafe). Basically, I can meet all of my shopping needs in one place.

As mentioned, the restaurant selection is stellar as well. Some of my personal favs are The Greene House, Zinc Bistro and Ocean Club (the pretzel bread is to die for.)

But don’t just take it from, be sure to check it out for yourself. To see all of their stores and restaurants, go to www.kierlandcommons.com.

Kierland Commons
Greenway Pkwy. and Scottsdale Rd.

 

5th and Wine

I just recently discovered this little gem of a restaurant/wine lounge in Old Town Scottsdale. As luck would have it, a friend decided that this was the perfect spot for her birthday celebration. Since I’m not one to pass up a celebration or the chance to try a new restaurant, I grabbed my husband and we headed out to Old Town.

This is such a cool spot! The atmosphere inside just begs you to sit down, relax and enjoy the company of good friends, good food and good wine. The walls are adorned with the artwork of renowned animal artist Ron Burns. As an animal lover, I was excited to see his whimsical prints. For me, it just added a little something extra. They also have a great outdoor area that I plan to check out once we ease into our version of winter.

 I was just as pleased with the food and wine as I was with the cozy atmosphere. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not a terribly picky wine drinker but I really enjoyed the Pino Grigio I tried (for the life of me, I don’t recall the name). They have lots of food choices on the menu for sharing. We opted for the Crispy Calamari (with a delightful chile basil dipping sauce, but not too hot) and the “Choose 2” Bruschetta. We went for the Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil, Balsamic Reduction and Hummus, Chive, Saffron Oil – both were yummy.

If you’re in the mood for some delicious eats, good drinks and a comfortable, laid back atmosphere, give this place a try.

7051 E. 5th Ave., Scottsdale
www.5thandwine.com

Phoenix Cooks! 2010

Calling all Foodies: Labor Day Weekend is upon us, so that means it’s time for Phoenix Cooks! This annual event has a new home this year at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. If you attend, get ready to indulge yourself. There will be specialties from more than 50 restaurants and resorts along with the opportunity to sample wine, beer and spirits. And, if that’s not enough, there will be cooking demonstrations, shopping and “foodie” raffle prizes with 100% benefitting Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

Be on the lookout for these chefs: Beau MacMillan (elements at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain), Lee Hillson (T. Cooks at The Royal Palms), Matt Carter (Zinc Bistro & The Mission), Anthony DeMuro (Different Pointe of View and many, many more!

Tickets are $75/pp in advance and $90/pp at the door. Class tickets are additional. Check out www.phoenixcooks.com for all of the details.

Happy Eating!

La Grande Orange

La Grande Orange, or LGO for short, is a perfect little neighborhood retreat in central Phoenix. It’s really two places in one with La Grande Orange Pizzeria on one side and La Grande Orange Grocery on the other. The Pizzeria side offers a well-balanced menu of salads and pizzas with a few “off the grill” items tossed in for good measure. They are kind enough to label items that are vegetarian, vegan or gluten free which is uber helpful if you care about these things like I do (for me, it’s please hold the meat). The pizzas are nothing short of yummy, and I prefer mine topped with a fried egg. Hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it! 

My recent LGO dinner included the Classic Margherita (with egg, of course) followed by a stop on the Grocery side for a Tammie Coe cupcake. Tammie Coe desserts deserve their very own blog post – I’ll save that for another day. If you’re a bit of a shopaholic like me, then the Grocery can also help you out in that area. They have a fantastic array of items including soaps, candles, kitchen knick knacks, pet treats and more. All of their LGO-logoed stuff is adorable – very retro. And, oh yeah, they have groceries too, including a nice wine selection.

LGO Grocery is also known for it’s homemade English muffins that are griddled there every day. These things are so darn good that I’m smiling right now just thinking about them. If, like me, you try one and decide that you can’t live without them, then you’re in luck. LGO sells them by the dozen and half dozen so that you can enjoy them morning, noon and night.

Well, I think I’ve rambled on long enough about this fabulous place. Hopefully, you’ll get out and give it a try.

La Grande Orange Grocery and Pizzeria
4410 N. 40th Street, Phoenix
www.lagrandeorangegrocery.com
www.lagrandeorangepizzeria.com

Happy Hour at Tommy Bahama Cafe

We needed to do a little shopping at Kierland Commons (oh, darn) so we opted to stop by the Tommy Bahama Cafe for a little bite to eat and to soak up the beautiful day. From past experience, we knew that they offered some happy hour deals from 4 to 6pm, so we decided to go that route rather than a heavy meal. Their happy hour (or Island Time, as they call it) prices are great – $5 appetizers and wine – and they have live music which sets the perfect mood. Of course, they also offer some fantastic Island-y drinks. I just happened to be in the mood for a little wine this particular evening.

Live Music

Ahhh, this is the life

When our food arrived, I was so anxious to dive in that I forgot to snap pictures first. In the photos below, you’ll see that we had already indulged – I promise, there’s more food than you see here. I had the Coconut Shrimp (dee-licious) and Fish Tacos (also yummy), and my husband snacked on the Quesadilla and Sliders. He loved both, especially the cheeseburger slider.

Coconut Shrimp

Quesadilla

So, the next time you’re in the mood for a little Island Time, head over to Tommy Bahama Cafe and get your happy hour on. Great prices, great food and great atmosphere. What’s not to love?

Tommy Bahama Cafe
Kierland Commons
15205 N. Kierland Blvd.
Scottsdale, AZ
www.tommybahama.com

Joya Spa at Montelucia

As mentioned previously on this blog, I’m a girl who loves going to the spa. I do it most often when I’m on vacation or if girlfriends are visiting, but every now and again I’ll hit a spa on my own right here in Phoenix. I’m not afraid to admit that I like my “me time.” I recently ventured out to Joya Spa at the Montelucia. I can’t take full credit for the idea since by husband encouraged it with a generous gift certificate (insert: “Awww!”).

They offer lots of options for massages, body treatments, facials, etc. But after perusing their site, I settled on their 80-minute Joyambrosia Signature Massage. Well, if I do say so myself, that was a brilliant decision. Of course, I’m now hooked on the longer massage. I’m pretty sure I can never go back to a 50-minute treatment. Oh, I almost forgot – I also added in paraffin treatments for my hands and feet. Tres magnifique!

Aside from the amazing massage, Joya Spa is a beautiful place. It redefines pampering and relaxation. You can’t help but feel like a princess with the Moroccan decor – rich, deep colors, comfy furniture and pillows everywhere!

Joya Spa
4949 E. Lincoln Drive
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
www.joyaspa.com

 

 

The Parlor Pizzeria

On the Phoenix dining scene less than a year, the Parlor Pizzeria has quickly become a favorite among locals. I had the good fortune of checking it out recently and loved the whole experience, from the warm, hip ambiance to the yummy pizzas and dessert. Even though it was December, we were able to sit in the outdoor area and be perfectly comfortable – the outdoor heater was more than enough to keep us cozy. It’s worth noting that the location of the restaurant is the former Salon de Venus, a beauty parlor (hence the name) that served Phoenix for more than 50 years. The bar stools are actually old beauty parlor chairs – very cool!

They have plenty of options to get you started including an amazing meat and cheese selection, soup and salads. They do offer more than pizza for an entree but since it was our first visit, we decided to go straight for the good stuff. The table shared a variety of pizzas: the Funghi, Margherita, Pepperoni and a Make-Your-Own (chicken, sundried tomatoes and onions).

Chicken/Tomato/Onion

 

Funghi

Margherita

Of course, we couldn’t pass up dessert (or dolci, as they call it). We couldn’t even decide on just one, so we shared three…yes, three…and all were delicious: Chewy Caramel Sundae, Tiramasu and last, but definitely not least, Zeppole, these warm Ricotta fritters rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with seasonal dipping sauces.
 Y-U-M-M-Y!

Zeppole

Chewy Caramel Sundae

Your mouth is probably watering at this point so go give it a try.

The Parlor Pizzeria

1916 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix

www.theparlor.us

 

Barneys New York Opens in Scottsdale

So, I got to start my day in the best way possible – at the mall. And not just any mall, at Scottsdale Fashion Square where Barneys New York is offically open for business. I even caught a glimpse of Simon Doonan, the creative genius behind the store’s quirky and fabulous displays. This Barneys is home to a Fred’s restaurant, one of only three. Yay for us! Can’t wait to give it a try.

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 Barneys is in good company in the new East Wing of the mall. It’s joined by other brands such as Michael Stars, Arthur, True Religion, Pandora and Christian Audigier. This concentration of retail therapy is sure to make any shopaholic weak in the knees. But never fear, you can keep the wallet in check with the more reasonble options of Forever 21, Love Culture and the soon-to-be-here H&M. If you want more middle-of-the-road options, J. Crew and Banana Republic are also taking up residence in the East Wing. Banana is debuting its new concept store – check it out and see what you think. It’s pretty cool but I’m still undecided on the practicality of it. Trust me, I’ll give myself plenty of opportunites to get used to it!

Along with more premier shopping, Fashion Square is also home to two new restaurants, Modern Steak (a new concept by Sam Fox) and Marcella’s Italian Kitchen. Both look very promising and are now on my list of “restaurants to try.”

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the collection of artistic mannequins that are on display. The Mannequin is our Muse Design Project is an art exhibition featuring retailers, designers and community members who have designed a mannequin using their interpretation of art and fashion. One hundred full-size mannequins will be on display through October 18. A panel of local celebrity judges will pick the top five most fabulous to be displayed at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in late October. 

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www.fashionsquare.com

Corner of Camelback and Scottsdale Roads

 

Scramble

One of Phoenix’s newest breakfast spots (or breakfast joint, as they call it) is Scramble, located in the north, central part of the city. I highly recommend giving this one a try. Despite its name, Scramble offers up much more than just eggs. I’m completely smitten with their Biscuits which make a great side to any breakfast meal. The menu is quite helpful by pointing out which items are a “healthy choice,” “spicy” and even which ones “travel well.” Note: naturally, the biscuits are not labeled as “healthy” but a side of low fat yogurt or fruit should help balance that out.

You have to try the biscuits

You have to try the biscuits

On my first visit, I checked out the Mulitgrain Pancakes which were yummy, and BIG. They took up the entire plate! My husband is a fan of the Gringo Breakfast Burrito. And we’re both huge fans of their Cinnamon Rolls. These alone are well worth the visit. They’re baked every day and according to the menu, “When they’re gone, they’re gone.” Now, that’s fresh.

Multigrain Pancakes

Multigrain Pancakes

Gringo Breakfast Burrito

Gringo Breakfast Burrito

Scramble also offers a light lunch menu, but I doubt I’ll ever try it because the breakfast is just too good to pass up!

Scramble 009

 www.azscramble.com

9832 N. 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85020