We are excited to participate in our first Foodbuzz 24×24 and share with you our food adventures in Scottsdale, Arizona. We loaded ourselves up into a SUV with my parents and our dog, Taylor, for a road trip to beautiful Arizona. Scottsdale has been an ideal vacation spot for long weekend excursions each year. It is filled with dog friendly hotels and welcoming restaurants along with convenient dog parks to let our “little girl” get her daily exercise. We put ourselves up at one of our favorite vacation spots: The Phoenician of the Starwood Hotels chain. If you have a dog that travels with you then you should get to know Starwood well since most of their hotels are dog friendly. We stayed in a room in their “casitas” (which are little small two story structures tucked away alongside grassy greenbelts and beautiful lagoons), which have ground floor units that open up to a patio and greenbelt that is perfect for bringing your four-legged companion with you. We love the location of the Phoenician since it is minutes from Old Town Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Fashion Mall, and of course the Chapparral Dog Park. Of course, for a guy like me, the Phoenician has 27-holes of amazing golf for me to be able to sneak away early in the morning for a round of golf while everyone else is still sleeping.
We couldn’t wait to get out of Orange County and on the road to explore the great food scene that the Phoenix/Scottsdale area has to offer. Each time we visit, we make sure to visit our landmark favorites and look forward to adding some new spots to the rotation for next time. After settling ourselves into our new home base for our trip, we mapped our restaurant plans for our day of culinary adventure on Saturday, May, 28th. We started the day with a little detour to the Chapparral Dog Park before making our way to The Orange Table at the Scottsdale Mall along with our pooch in tow. We were looking forward to a lovely breakfast outdoors with Taylor at our side. The restaurant is an unassuming and quaint spot with a neighborhood cafe feel. It is definitely what we would call a hidden gem because it is tucked away in the Scottsdale Mall away from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets of Old Town Scottsdale. The restaurant features a great coffee bar along with classic bar menu for those craving a Bloody Mary or cocktail with your brunch.
Classic Corned Beef Hash: – Homemade with love is the way I would describe their recreation of a timeless classic featuring chopped red potatoes incorporated with well seasoned corned beef, served with made to order eggs and your choice of bread.
Red Flannel Corned Beef Hash – This version of corned beef includes fresh beets and a dollop of sour cream to create a delicious modern day spin on an old time favorite.
Chimichurri Corned Beef Hash (House Special) – Being that The Orange Table is known for their corned beef, its only natural that they have put together some innovative twists on old-fashioned corned beef hash.
Garlic Mushroom Omelet – This is hardly your typical omelet as the savory sauce could create a masterful meal in itself atop a plate of mouthwatering pasta. The omelet features garlic, shallots, crimini mushrooms and Swiss cheese covered in a garlic, mushroom, and sherry cream sauce.
Iced Smoca Mocha – Espresso blended with chocolate, monin amaretto, and raspberry. A truly amazing treat that you’ll savor to the last drop.
Apricot Iced Tea – The subtle hints of apricot infused into the iced tea make this a great thirst quenching drink on a hot day.
Iced Chai Latte – A classic and timeless drink featuring Indian spiced tea sweetened with honey and served latte style with steamed milk.
Mocha Coffee Soda – This one feature’s an Orange Table original recipe that really is like having a coffee and soda all in one.
As you can probably tell, we are enamored with this amazing breakfast spot that is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. We really wish that we had a spot like this close to home to call our own regular spot. But since we can’t, we’ll have to call this one of our homes away from home when we make our way out to Scottsdale once or twice a year.
After recovering from our breakfast indulgence, we knew that we would have our work cut out for ourselves in getting seats at the infamous Pizzeria Bianco. Up until about a month ago, Pizzeria Bianco was strictly a dinner-only venue and would create multi-hour waits for eager patrons in the midst of its dinner rush. We were excited to see that they started a lunch service and are now open from 11 am to 10pm. As we let time slip away from us, we arrived maybe 5-10 minutes before they openned and feared the worst. Past trips to here could easily mean a wait of 2-3 hours if you showed right when they openned for dinner. Alas, we lucked out as we snuck in as one of the last few tables in the first seating and eagerly awaiting the meal we have grown to crave on trips to the Phoenix area.
Market Salad – The seasonal salad featured arugula, fresh local peaches, goat cheese, Arizona pistachios and tossed in a light red wine vinaigrette. Of course, the downside to the market salad is the fact that you may not get to eat it again, but once you try their fresh locally sourced salads, you’ll be a fan for life.
Spiedini – A warmed pair of skewers featuring fontina cheese encased in prosciutto di Parma and served on a bed of mixed greens topped with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Wiseguy – A masterpiece and my favorite pizza featuring caramelized onions, house smoked mozzarella, and fennel sausage make this pizza a truly tantalizing experience for your taste buds.
Biancoverde (with prosciutto added) – Fresh mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, ricotta, and arugula with the add-in of prosciutto make this a truly memorable pizza creation that takes us back to the great pizzas we enjoyed in Italy.
Rosa – This pizza has a red onions, parmigiano reggiano, rosemary, and Arizona pistachios to create a rich and tasty blend of cheeses with some nice textures from the onion and pistachios.
If you are looking for your traditional New York Style thin crust pizza (that your fold in half to eat) or your deep dish Chicago pizza, you’ll have to look elsewhere. What you’ll find from Pizzeria Bianco is a cooking technique that sets them apart in that their pizzas are “legna al forno” or baked in a wood-fired stone oven. The result is a pizza that has a slightly charred taste on parts of it with an unmistakable taste of being baked over wood. If you’ve enjoyed a real Italian pizza, then you’ll love their pizzas here! You wouldn’t be alone if you like their pizzas as they have consistently been voted the best pizza in Arizona and often times voted the best in the country. No trip to Phoenix or Scottsdale would be complete without a stop here because once you try it once… you’ll be back for more. I do have to warm you that if you don’t come early and have to wait a couple hours, you’re experience may be quite different from the hunger pains.
The last stop for the evening was a trip to The Mission in Old Town Scottsdale. As I mentioned before, we are always on the lookout to add “must eat” restaurants to our agenda for future trips to Scottsdale and The Mission fits that description to a tee. How do you run a successful establishment you ask? You put the face of the restaurant on the front lines to ensure that the guest experience is second to none. That is exactly what we received from co-owner Brian Raab who we saw greeting everyone and mingling with guests throughout the restaurant. The guy knows how to work the “front of the house”! He’ll make you feel right at home and the staff is passionate and knowledgeable of their menu. We knew we were up for a challenge when we ventured to this posh, hot spot without a reservation on a Saturday evening, but we crossed our fingers and arrived early at 6 pm for an early dinner. We instantly felt like we were back in a trendy spot in the center of Los Angeles or Newport Coast as the place boasts quite a scene in their bar area that features a genuine mixologist.
Elderflower Margarita – A wonderful play on flavors to create your not so ordinary margarita that will leave you wanting a second.
Strawberry Coconut Mojito – Believe me when I say that this one tastes just as good as it sounds.
House Cadillac Margaritas – I am a sucker for a good Cadillac because when you order one of these, you are expecting a nice stiff drink to go with your meal… and that is exactly what I got.
Table side Guacamole – Its more than just a show! The guacamole is made to order to the spice level and with the accompaniments that you want. We particularly enjoyed the addition of cotija cheese and pepitas as a topper to the guacamole work of art.
Duck Carnitas Empanada – I really wonder if they read my mind on all my favorite ingredients. This masterpiece is constructed with duck, foie gras, orange, oregano, mushroom and queso oaxaca. The fusion of the ingredients in a crispy flakey empanada shell was awe-inspiring.
Crispy Cola Pork – Pork Belly, a Mexican cola reduction, pickled red onions, peanuts and chiltepin set atop a lettuce wrap created both a visual and taste explosion. This dish is really a truly great interpretation of Latin cuisine on an Asian dish like lettuce wraps.
Pork Shoulder Tacos (for two) – This is clearly a dish that I would without a doubt recommend that everyone try at least once. They slow roast an entire pork shoulder until its fork tender and serve it along with 10 house made tortillas that are made every morning from scratch. They serve the tortillas atop a giant brick of pink sea salt and provide you with cilantro, red onions, and cotija cheese to garnish your tacos. I highly recommend as our waitress recommended to us… to add a side sampler of their white bean puree, black bean puree and honey chipotle grits to add to your taco creations. Don’t worry as you can add more tortillas to indulge in all the delicious pork that comes to your table.
Chorizo Porchetta – It must have been a pork night since we seemed to hit most of the pork dishes on their menu! Quyen definitely proclaimed this to be the best porchetta that she has ever had. Brian explained that they took a classic Italian dish like porchetta and infused the Latin American flare by adding their fresh ground chorizo to the layers of meat that are slowly cooked into the porchetta during the cooking process.
Fried Bananas – An absolutely wonderful creation that pulls right after my soft spot for fried bananas. It is served alongside a peanut butter cream and vanilla ice cream. When you put all the flavors together… you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding – This isn’t your traditional thick and dense bread pudding. It is light and airy and served with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream all on top of pool of spiked butterscotch sauce.
Chocolate Milkshake with Espresso Churros – Homemade mini espresso churros served alongside a thick chocolate milkshake. Perfect for the chocolate and coffee lover, but unfortunately it was the last place finisher behind the next two superstar desserts.
A round of applause to Chef Matt Carter for the amazing assembly of a truly remarkable menu. We both agreed that The Mission was our favorite dining experience to date in Scottsdale, and the list of restaurants that we’ve dined upon is extensive and inclusive of so many of the top steakhouses and seafood restaurants in town. We certainly will be back here on our next visit to Scottsdale and we’ll be sure to have a reservation for memorable culinary experience.
As you can tell, Scottsdale holds a wealth of dining options and a great deal of truly remarkable places that you should add to your own “must try” list. We hope that you too will find some true epicurean gems whether on your travels or in your own backyard so that you can enjoy dining on extraordinary food just as we do!