Category Archives: food

Where to eat, what to eat

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!

Ice Cream Duel

When it’s warm in the Phoenix summers, locals don’t fret. Why? Pools are abundant (and all the local resorts are the places-to-be) and cool, sweet treats are all around. The pop-up of gelato and yogurt places can’t be missed, but it’s not a fad – they’re taking a cue from two of the best spots around: Sugar Bowl and Mary Coyle. These are two of the most drool-worthy, diet-ditching parlors, who – in their “vintage” states – have become pillars of Phoenix, especially in the summer.

Sugar Bowl

So you’re in Old Town Scottsdale, moseying along, and BAM you see the big pink corner, with the colorful letters that bring so much joy: Sugar Bowl. People who’ve grown up in Phoenix all have stories about when they were little and got to go to Sugar Bowl. It’s a special place. They serve lunch and dinner, but let’s be honest – you’re going for the ice cream. It’s smooth, creamy and in any of it’s iterations – the sundaes, the parfaits, the cones – you can’t get away from the parlor feel – not that you’d want to. (A certain blogger, by the way, recommends the Old Dutch Chocolate hot fudge.)

It’s old-time dining at it’s best, and the whole experience can’t be missed.

But across town, Mary Coyle is the place to be for cool treats.

Mary Coyle Ice Cream

Similar to Sugar Bowl, Mary Coyle is a staple in Phoenix. They also serve food that you get, but it’s not what you go for. Again, it’s the ice cream. And they make no bones about the 16% butterfat content – it’s on banners in the store – but when you taste it, you don’t have a care in the world if it was 16 or 66% butterfat.

The biggest differentiator are the flavors Mary Coyle has. At any time, there are about 30 flavors, including some bright, fruity ones (black raspberry, fresh honey banana, burgundy cherry) that at least sound healthy, right? But then there are the indulgences (butter brittle, maple walnut, chocolate almond) that will send you flying. Their “standard” flavors like chocolate, peppermint chip and rocky road are done the way an Iron Chef does french fries – perfectly.

So when you need to cool down, head to Sugar Bowl or Mary Coyle – or better yet, go to both. Conduct your own taste test and see what you think of these treats.

Sugar Bowl
4005 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Mary Coyle
5521 North 7th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85013-1701

Giant Coffee

Tucked just slightly back from the bustling 7th Street and McDowell intersection in downtown Phoenix is a new coffee shop – Giant Coffee – that is already drawing the eye and the taste buds of locals in the know.

It’s no surprise that it’s a success, considering it’s from restaurateurs Matt and Erenia Pool. You know them from Matt’s Big Breakfast and Roosevelt Tavern, and it’s obvious that Giant Coffee is going to be as big in their repertoire.

Right away, it’s got that hip, urban but very cozy feel. The long, communal table in the middle makes it feel open and friendly, instead of crowded and invasive like other places that try the same concept. But there’s also plenty of room for private conversations with tables lining the sides. Half the reason  you go to a place like Giant is for the atmosphere, and this definitely pays off.

Inside Giant Coffee

Now to the grub: The coffee is delicious, more mild and less acidic than other places. Expect the usual offerings from the drink menu, but all are very well executed. Their specialty is their daily drip, from a single location, so you can taste beans from all over the world day-by-day. Their treats are also amazing. The blackberry-bran-honey muffin is incredibly delicious – and filling – and chock full of local ingredients.

Giant Coffee

A couple notes: they neighbor Bunky Boutique in their new location, so stop by when you can visit both places. Also, Giant doesn’t take cards, only cash, so come prepared.

It’s great to see a new place open with a totally different vibe, it’s worth checking out for your morning – or afternoon – or evening cup of Joe.

Giant Coffee
1437 N 1st St
Phoenix, AZ 85004
twitter: @giantcoffeeaz

Independents Week

It’s no secret that here at The Hot Sheet, we’re driven to showcase the best of the indie shops. Local businesses are what separates one city from another – one business from another. The charm, unique personality, service and – let’s just face it – they’re more fun places to be.

So as if you didn’t have enough reason to visit a local boutique, restaurant, coffee shop, bar (okay, you get the gist), then this is your week – Independents Week. From today (June 28) through July 4, you get 20% off your purchases at participating members of Local First Arizona, a local non-profit to support independently owned businesses. And because Local First is such a cool organization, pretty much all your favorite places are on the list. (Check out the full list of participating shops.)

But just in case – in all your excitement – you are perplexed about where to visit first, here are a few of our top picks (click their pic to check ’em out):

frances

Urban Cookies

Urban Cookies

Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden

The Willows

The Willows

Bunky Boutique

Bunky Boutique

Heard Museum

Heard Museum

See, now your week was looking busier than you thought! To get your 20% off Golden Coupon, and to see a full list of participants, check out the Local First site. Happy outings!