Tag Archives: Italian

Fired-Pie-Prep-8202#12406D3

Fired Pie delivers with hot new concept

Here’s the beautiful thing about Fired Pie: In less time than a typical commercial break, the staff at Fired Pie can make you a fresh pizza that suits your taste and specifications.

Fired Pie is the latest Chipotle-inspired build-your-own-meal, fast-casual dining concept to hit the Valley. The creation of veteran restaurateur Fred Morgan — the former CEO of Oregano’s — and partners Doug Doyle and Rico Cuomo, Fired Pie’s pizzas take three minutes to bake in a brick oven after customers choose their sauce, cheese, meats, vegetables and herbs.

“The fast-casual concept is really exploding,” Morgan said. “What we’ve been able to do here is create a concept that delivers high-quality gourmet pizza at a cost and convenience that appeals to the customer.”

During a recent visit to Fired Pie, that concept created a taste sensation.
We opted to try a pizza and the Steak & Blue, one of Fired Pie’s signature salads. Signature pizzas include Hawaiian barbecue with barbecue sauce, mozzarella, Canadian bacon, pineapple and cilantro; meaty Italian with tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, salami, capicola and sausage; and tomato basil with two types of mozzarella, tomato, basil and garlic. We chose to build our own pizza with tomato sauce, pepperoni and fresh mozzarella.

Pizzas and salads are $7.75, regardless of the number of toppings.

During our visit, both dishes were exceptional. I grew up in an Italian family in New York, eating amazing homemade pizzas that my Italian grandmother spent all day preparing, so I am very discriminating when it comes to Italian food. But I can honestly say that Fired Pie’s pizzas match or exceed the quality of other Valley pizza restaurants, and they even give my grandmother a run for her money. Sorry, Grandma. The quality of the ingredients far exceed the expectations one would have from a high-end Italian restaurant, let alone a fast-casual restaurant. But Fired Pie takes that fast-casual concept to a whole new level.

The great thing for me is that one of Fired Pie’s location is at Park Central Mall, which is right across the street from my Central Phoenix office. And customers are already lining up to take advantage of the three-minute cooking time that makes a Fired Pie pizza a healthy lunch option for downtown workers.

If you do decide to get off the healthy train for a moment, words cannot adequately express the mouth-watering deliciousness of the Fired Pookie, Fired Pie’s soft-baked chocolate chip cookie topped with vanilla ice cream that only costs $3.

Trust me on this one. If Fired Pie doesn’t have you at pizza, they’ll hook you by Pookie.

Fired Pie has locations at 3049 W. Agua Fria Freeway, Deer Valley Towne Center, Phoenix; 3110 N. central Ave., Phoenix; and one coming soon to Chandler.

For more information, visit firedpie.com.

arco

Arcosanti founder Soleri dies

Italian-born architect Paolo Soleri, who began building a futuristic community called Arcosanti north of Phoenix more than 40 years ago but never completed it, died Tuesday. He was 93.

Officials of the Cosanti Foundation said Soleri died of natural causes at his Paradise Valley home.

Soleri broke ground on Arcosanti in 1970 on the basalt cliffs overlooking the Agua Fria River in Cordes Junction about 70 miles north of Phoenix.

Soleri had said he dreamed of buildings and people interacting as a “highly evolved being.” The sun would warm residents, the breeze would cool them and nature would surround them. The buildings would soar, reaching toward the sky with small apartments and large public spaces.

Soleri preached community and conservation. Arcosanti would be his experiment of thousands of people living together on 860 acres of desert to teach the world how to grow. He called the vision “arcology,” a word he invented combining architecture and ecology.

But the futuristic community is only about 5 percent complete and fewer than 90 people live at Arcosanti.

There are 14 primary buildings — including some housing units, a foundry, a music center and a drafting-studio complex — plus a swimming pool with a greenhouse now being built.

“I would have been crazy if I thought it would be this slow,” Soleri told The Arizona Republic in 2010. “I am a prisoner of my own age.”

Royal Palms exterior

Royal Palms debuts new T. Cook's menu

Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Phoenix’s renowned luxury boutique hotel, announces the launch of brand-new dining menus at its acclaimed destination restaurant, T. Cook’s.  The new dinner and lounge menus focus on a renewed culinary approach to the restaurant’s signature Mediterranean cuisine, showcasing layers of French, Italian, Spanish and Greek flavors in a lighter, more modern interpretation of the region’s cuisine.

“The resort’s culinary team has done a tremendous job crafting the restaurant’s new approach, while maintaining the style, traditions and prestige T. Cook’s reflects,” said Steve Benson, Royal Palms Resort and Spa General Manager. “Both longtime patrons and visiting guests will recognize a stronger focus on smaller, sharable portions and plates that combine fresh and locally sourced ingredients to create big flavors, but executed with simple preparations.”

Diverse flavors permeate the menu as first introduced in the selection of appetizers, referred to as Tastes.  Crispy Sweet Breads offer a unique sweet and salty twist with house-made estate orange preserves, salted caramel and rosemary.  Penn Cove Mussels with charred chorizo, garlic, fennel, saffron and Parmesan toast and Maya Farms First Crop Beet Carpaccio with Fossil Creek goat cheese and spiced pecans showcase the highest quality ingredients prepared simply, yet deliciously.  Starters maintain seasonality in the Shaved Asparagus & Preserved Lemon salad with first of the year morels, Reggiano and heirloom tomatoes and the Truffle Spring Pea Soup with butter poached lobster, sweet pea tendrils and porcini mushroom cream.

This new, contemporary approach to highlighting Mediterranean flavors is further exemplified in the menu’s Mains as showcased in a Lamb Duet – an olive oil pressed rack, celeriac pudding, spiced shank, pearl pasta and pine nut crumble.  Local produce, handpicked directly from the property’s citrus grove, adds a bright citrus element to Crispy Black Cod with estate-grown orange salad, truffle creamed corn, roasted asparagus and sea salt.  Modern comfort food best describes the Gnudi – doughless cow’s milk ricotta ravioli with spaghetti squash, charred tomato broth and pesto.  Completing the dinner menu is an offering of Essentials, sides of vegetables such as Spiced Rapini & Reggiano and Caramelized Petite Root Vegetables.

T. Cook’s Lounge menu has also experienced a revival with an offering of casual bites mirroring the flavor profiles and sophistication of the new dinner menu.  Bar classics have seen a makeover as shown in the Bison Sliders with black fig ketchup, smoked onion marmalade served on toasted brioche and Flash Pan Calamari with mint, capers, fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic bread for dipping.  Zucca Chips take the place of fried zucchini; the crispy slivers are served with fried Italian parsley, Parmesan and fire-roasted red pepper dipping sauce.  Traditional Mediterranean fare such as Marinated Olives, Marinated Feta, Garlic Hummus and Bruschetta are each served with special accompaniments to liven up the dish.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa will soon introduce new brunch and lunch menus to debut mid-March.  In addition, T. Cook’s offers specialty menus for holiday dining, as well as seasonal specials.

To learn more, visit www.royalpalmshotel.com/restaurant and follow T. Cook’s on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TCooksPhoenix and Twitter at @TCooksPhoenix.

Royal Palms exterior

Royal Palms debuts new T. Cook’s menu

Royal Palms Resort and Spa, Phoenix’s renowned luxury boutique hotel, announces the launch of brand-new dining menus at its acclaimed destination restaurant, T. Cook’s.  The new dinner and lounge menus focus on a renewed culinary approach to the restaurant’s signature Mediterranean cuisine, showcasing layers of French, Italian, Spanish and Greek flavors in a lighter, more modern interpretation of the region’s cuisine.

“The resort’s culinary team has done a tremendous job crafting the restaurant’s new approach, while maintaining the style, traditions and prestige T. Cook’s reflects,” said Steve Benson, Royal Palms Resort and Spa General Manager. “Both longtime patrons and visiting guests will recognize a stronger focus on smaller, sharable portions and plates that combine fresh and locally sourced ingredients to create big flavors, but executed with simple preparations.”

Diverse flavors permeate the menu as first introduced in the selection of appetizers, referred to as Tastes.  Crispy Sweet Breads offer a unique sweet and salty twist with house-made estate orange preserves, salted caramel and rosemary.  Penn Cove Mussels with charred chorizo, garlic, fennel, saffron and Parmesan toast and Maya Farms First Crop Beet Carpaccio with Fossil Creek goat cheese and spiced pecans showcase the highest quality ingredients prepared simply, yet deliciously.  Starters maintain seasonality in the Shaved Asparagus & Preserved Lemon salad with first of the year morels, Reggiano and heirloom tomatoes and the Truffle Spring Pea Soup with butter poached lobster, sweet pea tendrils and porcini mushroom cream.

This new, contemporary approach to highlighting Mediterranean flavors is further exemplified in the menu’s Mains as showcased in a Lamb Duet – an olive oil pressed rack, celeriac pudding, spiced shank, pearl pasta and pine nut crumble.  Local produce, handpicked directly from the property’s citrus grove, adds a bright citrus element to Crispy Black Cod with estate-grown orange salad, truffle creamed corn, roasted asparagus and sea salt.  Modern comfort food best describes the Gnudi – doughless cow’s milk ricotta ravioli with spaghetti squash, charred tomato broth and pesto.  Completing the dinner menu is an offering of Essentials, sides of vegetables such as Spiced Rapini & Reggiano and Caramelized Petite Root Vegetables.

T. Cook’s Lounge menu has also experienced a revival with an offering of casual bites mirroring the flavor profiles and sophistication of the new dinner menu.  Bar classics have seen a makeover as shown in the Bison Sliders with black fig ketchup, smoked onion marmalade served on toasted brioche and Flash Pan Calamari with mint, capers, fire-roasted tomatoes and garlic bread for dipping.  Zucca Chips take the place of fried zucchini; the crispy slivers are served with fried Italian parsley, Parmesan and fire-roasted red pepper dipping sauce.  Traditional Mediterranean fare such as Marinated Olives, Marinated Feta, Garlic Hummus and Bruschetta are each served with special accompaniments to liven up the dish.

Royal Palms Resort and Spa will soon introduce new brunch and lunch menus to debut mid-March.  In addition, T. Cook’s offers specialty menus for holiday dining, as well as seasonal specials.

To learn more, visit www.royalpalmshotel.com/restaurant and follow T. Cook’s on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/TCooksPhoenix and Twitter at @TCooksPhoenix.

San Dominique Winery

Northern Arizona Wineries: San Dominique Winery

Napa, Napa, Napa! It’s all about Napa right? Not anymore. Napa Valley still has seniority in the wine game, but you won’t hear wine-ing laments from younger wineries in Northern Arizona. They stand very well on their own and have something a little bit different to bring to the wine enthusiast.

Recently, I took a trip to Northern Arizona to visit two of the 13 wineries on the Northern Arizona Wine Tour Map near Camp Verde and Cottonwood.

San Dominique Winery

My first stop was the San Dominique Winery also known as Garlic Paradise. Aside from my enjoyment of wine, I love garlic. I put it in or on just about everything I cook. I’ve even had the opportunity to taste garlic ice cream which was delicious, but sadly, is one of the only things not offered at Garlic Paradise.

San Dominique Winery is run out of a small shop by owner and cellar master, Bill Staltari. San Dominique Winery has the feel of an Italian general store with the products of Garlic Paradise lining the shelves and bottles of wine behind a big wooden counter.

The Wine
The wine tasting list offers 17 wines to taste, reds, whites and the specialty wines. There is also a separate list of “Specialty Private Reserves” that states “Serious Inquiries Only.” It’s only $10 for four tastings, and you get a souvenir glass. I am not sure if this includes wines off the private reserve list, but I doubt it.San Dominique Winery

I tried the 1998 Cabernet, 2005 Cabernet and Black Cherry reds, the Arizona Blush, the Muscato of Alexandria whites, and the three specialty wines, Hot Pepper wine, Amerita, and Almondino.

My favorite red was the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon; it had a light spice, a hearty bouquet and a smooth finish — no wonder it is a Silver Medal winner. The Black Cherry wine was another favorite, it is a sweet summer wine made purely from black cherries — very fruity and rich.

But what really excited me was the list of specialty wines. The Amrita is an orange marsala dessert wine. It has flavors of honey and orange, and it’s not as sweet as expected. The Almondino was a rich and smooth almond-flavored, sherry-based wine. And lastly there was the hot pepper wine. This is not a dessert wine and even following the recommendation to “serve chilled” won’t cool it off! It’s a blend of Chenin Blanc and French Colombard grapes infused with hot pepper. If you buy a bottle, you get a complimentary recipe card that suggests how to use the wine to spice up your favorite dishes or that happy hour margarita.

San Dominique Winery

The Garlic
The amount of items that include garlic are incredible — BBQ rubs and sauces, pasta sauces, salad dressings, dipping oils, sandwich spreads and meat glazes. And even if you or someone you know doesn’t love garlic, there are a few items sans garlic worth a try. And if you can’t make it to San Dominique you can always order your favorites online at www.garlicparadise.com.

The Dinners
Staltari cooks up dinner’s right in his shop, and every three to five weeks on a Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. he hosts dinner for a group. The dinner is seven courses for a reasonable price.

“Don’t expect to rush away,” Staltari says. “It’s at least a three hour affair where you can relax and enjoy yourself.”

He has been doing these dinners for 18 years and enjoys hosting as much as the guests enjoy eating. If you are interested in the Sunday dinner, give your email address to San Dominique Winery, and you will be emailed a menu and date of the next dinner.

San Dominique Winery

Bill Staltari in his kitchen preparing to serve guests.

If You Go:

San Dominique Winery
I-17 & Cherry Road (Highway 169), Camp Verde
(602) 549-9787
Open Daily: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.