Tag Archives: scottsdale fashion square

Glamping, Photo: Wolwedans

Worldwide Trend, Glamping, Arrives To Scottsdale

When one thinks of camping, the phrase “roughing it” typically comes to mind. Flashbacks of faulty supplies, mystery food, bug attacks and the process of “using nature as your bathroom,” tend to prevent people from giving camping a second chance. However, a new trend has emerged that not only accommodate all of your camping needs, but also your luxury needs. and luxury needs. Ladies, meet glamping.

Glamping, originating from such exotic destinations as Africa and Thailand, is a more luxurious way to enjoy the great outdoors by providing glamorous amenities and services. Tents, for example, are often built with an electrical power source, offering appliances, lighting and climate control for guests. As if that isn’t luxurious enough, ditch your sleeping bag and upgrade to either an air mattress or king-sized spring mattress, sheathed in Egyptian cotton sheets. The best part? Camp is set up prior to your arrival, so all that’s left for you to do is to simply enjoy.

The royal treatment doesn’t stop there; full-course meals, laundered clothing, comfortable transportation and on-location spas come standard. Don’t let all this glitz fool you, though; glamping is very much about enjoying and respecting nature. Guests will still embark on river rafting adventures, safaris, go rock climbing and spelunking. The biggest difference being at the end of the day, instead of coming home to a crooked, wet tent, a wait staff and a toasty fire will greet you. Do we have your attention yet?

As this fad’s popularity soars, several resorts and outdoor adventure groups offer glamping escapades, as well as the chance to design your own custom camping adventure. And this includes local Arizona Outback Adventures, which offers a large variety of outdoor adventures, supplying meals and snacks, transportation and all of your camping supplies. Another local option is The Phoenician, a luxury resort and hotel in Scottsdale, which offers its own interpretation of glamping, per request.

“Here at The Phoenician, we can create a glamping experience by providing such luxurious offerings as AAA Five Diamond accommodations, award-winning restaurants and a world-renowned spa (The Centre for Well-Being), all combined with a variety of outdoor endeavors,” says Denise Seomin, director of public relations for The Phoenician.

“The Centre for Well-Being actually offers guided hikes at Camelback Mountain,” she adds. “The resort also has bikes available to guests to explore the 250-acre grounds, or nearby communities. In addition, the concierge staff can arrange a diverse number of active pursuits to add to the glamping trip, from horseback riding to river rafting.”

If your glamping craving takes you beyond the limits of Arizona, Seomin suggests you do plenty of research online and consider seeking assistance from a travel agent.

“Its all depends on the exact type or style of glamping trip in which the travelers are interested,” Seomin says. “Glamping, or the degree of such travel, is really at the discretion of the individuals, who can truly customize the experience to meet their expectations.”

Overall, if you’re interested in pursuing outdoor activities without sacrificing comfort and present-day amenities, glamping is screaming your name.

For more information about glamping at/with The Phoenician or Arizona Outback Adventures, visit thephoenician.com or aoa-adventures.com, respectively.

Glamping at the Phoenician

“Glamping” Photo Shoot Special Thanks To:

Location: The Phoenician in Scottsdale
Clothes and shoes: Barneys, Scottsdale Fashion Square
Jewelry: Hearts, Hearts.com
Makeup: Mozaik Skin & Body
Hair: Lindsay Cohen, All Done Up!
Models: Emily, Kristin and Nicole
Photographers: Cory Bergquist and Glory Shim

glamping at the phoenician

Scottsdale Living Magazine Fall 2012

Madewell logo

Boutique Hopping: Madewell Boutique

With all the fashion-forward clothing shops popping up in town, I will be bringing you reviews of a sampling of the best boutiques Scottsdale has to offer. This week, we stopped by Madewell Boutique.

First Impressions: Madewell

My first impressions usually include what I see and feel when I get inside the door of a boutique, but Madewell caught my eye far before I walked inside. This boutique has its own hold on creative décor, and I was a fast fan. The displays inside the store are unique, with jars of chalk, endearing vintage clocks, and oversized spools of thread splayed around strategically and invitingly. The signage out front is both adorable and eye-catching, and as soon as I walked inside, I was warmly greeted. The associate who helped me was very genuine, asked my name and offered to help me. All in all, Madewell won me over within seconds.

Clothing Analysis

The clothes at Madewell will make you feel like you just came into a room full of all your best friends. Their clothes are soft and cozy to the touch and tailored to flatter a variety of figures. The set-up inside the boutique is comfortable and cute, and you’ll be drawn to explore the multitude of high-quality clothes displayed before your eyes.

Skinny Skinny Jeans in Silversmith Wash, $115, Photo: madewell.comThe denim bar was one of my favorite areas, with jeans in various colors and styles. Madewell’s “skinny skinny” jeans are set up side-by-side so you scan the selection and quickly decide what suits your fancy. Their section full of “happy socks” made me smile, and their sale items were clearly marked throughout the store — another reason for me to smile.

The Archive Boot, Photo: madewell.com

Madewell has an expansive selection of everything you could want or need, including pants, tops, dresses, sweaters, shoes, bags, jewelry and even undergarments. The styles are varied, but each piece is trend-friendly and well constructed.

As far as prices are concerned, Madewell is one of the few boutiques that hits the mark of fair pricing. Boots, jeans, and some of the dresses are above $100, but one touch of its material is enough to know these pieces will last you a long time. I can fully understand why they chose the name “Madewell” — everything in the store really is. You can find fitted T-shirts for less than $20, and I can truly say that all of the items I saw seemed reasonably priced.

Sidesaddle Riding Jacket, $148, Photo: madewell.com

Tidbits and Takeaways

If you want some fashionable finds at very affordable prices, I urge you — go to Madewell! I don’t think their styles are necessarily the most unique out there, but they are consistent, charming and fashionably on-point. You will appreciate the “homey” feel of the store and excellent customer service, and you are sure to fall in love with all the en vogue wardrobe finds.

The location I referenced:
Madewell in Scottsdale Fashion Square
7014 E. Camelback, Scottsdale; Level 1: 1B
(480) 946-3641
FireSky Resort & Spa

Grab The Girls For A Getaway At Kimpton's FireSky Resort & Spa

Sometimes ladies’ night needs to be expanded to an entire weekend. Why? Because your girlfriends are the perfect companions to help you relax and have fun. To take it one step further, how about turning ladies’ night into a weekend vacation?

The “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” package at Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa takes the headache out of having to plan your girls’ getaway because the attractions are either on-site or nearby.

The package includes welcome cosmopolitan cocktails at Taggia’s bar, a 25-percent discount at Jurlique Spa, certificates for shopping discounts at Scottsdale Fashion Square and two eye masks to wrap up the weekend.

FireSky Resort & SpaLocated in the heart of Scottsdale, FireSky Resort & Spa has everything a girl could need, including spacious rooms equipped with a private patio or balcony; a lagoon and pool with a sand beach; Taggia’s restaurant, which serves authentic coastal Italian cuisine; and the award-winning Jurlique Spa, which uses certified organic and biodynamic herbs and ingredients to help you relax and refresh.

As most of you know, Scottsdale is an active town with high-end shopping, art galleries, museums, dining and nightlife. For example, downtown Scottsdale is home to more than 80 wine bars, lounges and clubs; and with more than 250 shops, Scottsdale Fashion Square is the largest shopping mall in the southwest.

Now if you’re thinking, “this sounds great, but it’s probably expensive,” think again. Rates start from $124 through September 30 and $224 October through May. It can be booked on FireSky Resort & Spa’s website by entering the rate code “PGRL” or by calling 1-800-528-7867 and mentioning the package by name.

For more information about the “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” package and Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa, visit fireskyresort.com.

Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa
4925 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
(480) 945-7666

Splash Designs Boutique Review

Boutique Hopping: Splash Designs Boutique

With all the fashion-forward clothing shops popping up in town, I will be bringing you bi-weekly installments of a sampling of the best boutiques Scottsdale has to offer. This week, we stopped by Splash Designs Boutique.

First Impressions

Splash Designs was a win for me from the get-go. I have to admit that I’ve been to one of its other locations and already knew I have a soft spot for its clothes, but I tried to approach this one with a fresh canvas. I was not disappointed. Speaking of fresh, that’s exactly the vibe I get from Splash’s store. It’s airy, it’s appealing, and I could immediately see the styles were not “cookie-cutter” as they often are in other stores. And, for extra brownie points, the staff members at Splash were very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in helping me if I needed it. A+ start.

Clothing Analysis

There is something wonderfully infectious about the sweet, breezy feel of the clothes that are sold at Splash Designs. It’s almost as if the boutique isn’t trying too hard ― they just know what they like and what looks good, and that’s what they aim to pass on to customers.

Splash has a wide range of wardrobe essentials, but most of its clothes can be standalone pieces as well. For instance, you will find some inexpensive camis interspersed throughout, but they’re usually there to accompany a lacy cardigan or sheer blouse. Splash offers a great variety of clothes ― everything from multi-colored skinny jeans to flowery dresses to business-approved tops ― and jewelry, accessories and shoes to boot. The only downside to the selection is that it’s limited and changes frequently. Don’t leave without getting that to-die-for skirt you love ― it probably will have been snatched up and replaced by something entirely different by the time you come back.

Now let’s chat prices. Another reason I’m a fan of Splash is because I feel like it’s one boutique that got it right in this area. The boutique carries some designer clothes mixed in throughout the store, but a lot of its clothes are selected more for their style rather than their brand-based label. I, for one, love that. Everything I laid my hands on was less than $100, and the vast majority of items I found were even under $50. I appreciate the fair pricing and even moreso the fact that the clothes don’t feel cheaply made. Will they last you five years’ worth of wear and tear? I’m guessing not. But will they fall to shreds after your first few washes like some inexpensive clothes do? I dare say no. The quality is very solid.

Tidbits and Takeaways

I wouldn’t steer you wrong, so trust me when I say, I vote yes on Splash. I don’t think its style is for everyone, but if you give the boutique a go once, you will quickly know whether or not its carefree fashion sense jives with your own. If it does, you’re in for a treat. Head on over for things like fun skirts, vibrant tops and chunky jewelry.

From the Rack

Striped Pleated Skirt ($44)

Comfy Knit Sweater ($50)

Cap Sleeve Top ($27)

arrowsThis pleated skirt is both playful and sophisticated, and is one of those perfect day-to-night wardrobe pieces. Wear it to work and then add some heels and smoky makeup, and voila! You’re ready to hit the town. arrowsEven though it’s still sweltering outside in our lovely state, I don’t think it’s ever too soon to start gathering fall and winter essentials. This knit sweater hangs off the shoulders and is a sassy approach to cooler temps. I’m obsessed. arrowsThe cap-sleeve top here is one of Splash’s more basic tops, but it has some flair and shows a peek into its whimsical side, which I really like. Finally, here’s a picture from its look book with some impending fall styles that embody Splash’s charm. Enjoy!
The location I referenced:
Splash Designs Boutique in Scottsdale Fashion Square:
7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale
Level 2: 2PC
(480) 946-0349

Check out Splash Designs’ Look Book.

Top 5 Arizona Malls (Spring-Summer 2012)

Top 5: Arizona Malls (Spring-Summer 2012)

The Top 5 Arizona Malls — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Biltmore Fashion Park

2502 E. Camelback Rd.,
Phoenix, AZ 85016
The original luxury shopping destination in Phoenix is a newly polished classic. Think Saks, Ralph Lauren, Escada, Apple and more. A delicious collection of restaurants, including True Food Kitchen and The Capital Grille, let you order up levels of flavorful virtue.

Arizona Mills

5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle,
Tempe, AZ 85282
Arizona Mills features outlet stores for H&M, Hurley, Rue 21, , Forever 21, Kenneth Cole Company Store, Nike Factory Store, Sak’s 5th Avenue Off 5th, Tommy Hilfiger Outlet, Last Call by Neiman Marcus, G by Guess, Crocs, Burlington Coat Factory, JCPenny Outlet, and Victoria’s Secret.

Kierland Commons

15205 N. Kierland Blvd.,
Scottsdale, AZ 85254
An intimate, open-air lifestyle center with extensive landscaping, upscale shops and restaurants, walkways, patios and courtyards that invite pedestrian interaction.

Scottsdale Fashion Square

7014-590 E. Camelback Rd.,
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Scottsdale Fashion Square is a diamond in the desert, with more than 225 retailers including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York. It’s the ultimate shopping destination.

Desert Ridge Marketplace

21001 N. Tatum Blvd.,
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Desert Ridge Marketplace delivers the ultimate shopping experience in a distinctive outdoor setting. Immerse your shopping senses in a unique blend of specialty retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues spread over 110 acres. The center’s 1.2 million square feet of retail space – home to over 110 retailers and restaurants – bursts with color, energy and fun, creating a one-of-a-kind lifestyle destination you’ll want to come back to again and again.

Experience AZ Spring-Summer 2012

Fall Fashion Shoot Behind the Scenes

Behind The Scenes: Fall Fashion Photo Shoot [PHOTOS]

Herve Leger, RED Valentino, Michael Kors and more — with such fabulous clothing, shoes and accessories from both Nordstrom and Astor & Black, Scottsdale Living teamed up with a fantastic group of people last Thursday, August 23, and camped out for the day at Talking Stick Resort’s Orange Sky for its Fall 2012 issue’s fall fashion photo shoot.

And the nearly two-month process paid off. The models from JANI Model Management, Michael, Trisha, Sheniece, Nemi, Michael and Nick, looked incredible in their respective outfits; the hairstylist and makeup artist, Randee Miller and Joanna Avillar for Mane Attraction Salon, respectively, stunningly transformed the models; Katie McEndoo of Astor & Black provided and styled the men into a seemingly Mad Men-inspired look; and Kira Brown complemented the dresses with fitting shoes and accessories — all from Nordstrom at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

Not to mention the location was a beautiful backdrop to it all. The location, Orange Sky, couldn’t have been more perfect with its sleek, chic lounges and private dining areas; and let’s not forget about that view from its outdoor patio — especially during sunset.

Scottsdale Living would like to thank the team, including the photographers (Mike Mertes Cory Bergquist and Glory Shim) who captured the jaw-dropping images that will grace the pages of Scottsdale Living’s Fall 2012 issue.

Keep an eye out for it in October. We’re sure it will be difficult to miss on the stands at AJ’s and Bashas’ throughout the North Scottsdale and Paradise Valley area.

In the meantime, check out more of these behind-the-scenes photos of our fall fashion shoot on our Facebook:

Fall Fashion Behind the Scenes

Scottsdale Fashion Square

Scottsdale Fashion Square: Not Your Typical Mall

The best of both worlds is the best way to describe my trip to Scottsdale Fashion Square. There is something for everyone, yet the experience is different from your typical mall.

Scottsdale Fashion Square offers the ideal stores that you can’t access anywhere else. It was a treat to be able to explore Louis Vuitton, Coach and Tiffany & Co. all in one mall. The blend of stores, Harkins Theatres, as well as variety of food and treats makes it a mall to remember.

Accompanied by my boyfriend, who is not a big fan of stores that aren’t about gaming, technology or pop culture, he was able to cope due to the variety of stores that suited both of us.  We enjoyed exploring stores such as Game Stop, Disney Store, Ed Hardy, Crate & Barrel, Betsey Johnson, Abercrombie & Fitch, Fossil and the Microsoft Store.

We spent a fair amount of time within the Microsoft store examining the various computer and tablets. Both of us have Macs, so it was interesting to compare the other products out there in one space. Many children were playing Xbox 360 Kinect with their parents, in the store, which also sells many Kinect games that seemingly flew off the shelves.

Tempted by the delicious smells wafting around the mall, we took a look at a few of the restaurants that make up the food court, including Johnny Rockets, Panda Express, Pita Jungle, Blue Burrito Grille, Kona Grill, Paradise Bakery & Café and Sarku Japan. Some other selections for dessert or a snack included Haagen-Dazs and doc popcorn.

With so much to do and such a unique selection, it breaks up the monotony of the day and perhaps the “normal” mall one would normally shop at. It’s a vacation from the day-to-day; I found this a special treat because I attend school in Tempe and usually am only able to make it to the Tempe Marketplace mall; so it was a nice change. I look forward to visiting Scottsdale Fashion Square again because of the variety and diversity that awaits me with every visit.

For more information about Scottsdale Fashion Square, visit fashionsquare.com.

Scottsdale Fashion Square
7014-2124 East Camelback Road #2021
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 423-9014

Francesca's Collections

Boutique Hopping In Scottsdale: Francesca's Collections

With all the fashion-forward clothing shops popping up in town, I will be bringing you bi-weekly installments of a sampling of the best boutiques Scottsdale has to offer. This week marks the beginning of this crusade, and I am thrilled to focus the spotlight on Francesca’s Collections this time around.

My experience shopping at Francesca’s Collections:

First Impressions

Francesca’s really struck me as having that perfect boutique feel when I walked inside. Even though it’s placed in the middle of Scottsdale Fashion Square (near Barneys to be exact), it doesn’t feel like another mall store when you step through its doors. There is a very definite laidback and welcoming aura when you enter, and I had nothing but positive interactions with the sales girls and manager who were all eager to help me.

In a nutshell? I was feeling its vibe from the get-go.

Clothing Analysis

Francesca’s has a unique and eclectic mix of clothing options, which I really appreciate. I’ve never been one for cookie-cutter attire, and you won’t find any of that here. There are, however, the usual staples — solid color T-shirts, tanks, camis, etc. — but I’ll be honest that I wouldn’t go to a boutique to pick up those sorts of basics. I was interested in discovering what lay in the rest of the hodgepodge.

I loved that they offer trendy pieces like brightly colored bottoms and chunky jewelry, but also aren’t afraid to put their stake in more unconventional items like tribal-print, cross-body bags and hippie-esque headbands. I had a blast perusing the mix of clothing options offered and was pleasantly surprised by the great customer service. I also had fun checking out the kitschy items interspersed throughout their store — although I have to admit I’m not big on knickknacks, so that part was most likely a one-time adventure. Their prices are fair and reasonable, but not excessively cheap.

Verdict: Head to the inexpensive stores for the run-of-the-mill nuts and bolts of your closet, but come to Francesca’s for the statement looks.

Tidbits and Takeaways

The main thing I realized when I was done shopping at Francesca’s is that I wanted to go back. Not only that, but I am positive I will go back and it will probably be soon. The best piece of advice I can offer you is to treat Francesca’s as a complementary counterpart to your wardrobe creations. I can’t see myself choosing multiple complete outfits here terribly often, but I can (and will) go back to find accent pieces.

If you like to embrace exclusive nuances in your wardrobe, this is your place. Their bohemian and tribal items were my favorite, hands down, and I’m also looking forward to pairing some of their hipster looks with contemporary underpinnings from my own closet.

Sample Outfit

Although this outfit runs contradictory to what I said I am most likely to buy myself from Francesca’s, I wanted to highlight some options they have that could function as great, summery work ensembles — because this is a timely topic this part of the year.

I think nothing says summer quite as cheerily as this Daffodil skirt. It’s cute and lightweight, and an appropriate length to wear to work. I coupled it with the Flapper top, for a playful but professional tone. I’d recommend tucking the top into the skirt because the skirt should really be the focal point. I didn’t go gaga over their shoe selections, but Francesca’s does have these pretty, nude Dorothy heels that I fell for — that can double as work shoes and date night shoes. Since the outfit is meant to be fresh and airy, I put it with some simple but eye-catching yellow brick dangle earrings and no other jewelry.

I love that this outfit projects warmth and confidence, and makes a bold fashion statement while still remaining classy and work-friendly. The total cost for these four pieces is $106, not including tax. Super price for a splendid outfit. I’m sold.

Top: $34

Bottom: $34

Shoes: $24

Jewelry: $14

Francesca's Collections
Location of the store I referenced:
Scottsdale Fashion Square
7014 E. Camelback Rd., #B156
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
(480) 945-2006
Mon-Sat: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Hub Clothing

HUB Clothing Owner Travels To Set Trends

With a passion for fashion and a mission to stay stylish, HUB Clothing finds inspiration for the latest trends by traveling the world. Visiting fashion capitals, such as Paris and London, owner Jennifer Mumford chooses the best-of-the-best collections to share with the Valley of the Sun, especially the Scottsdale area.

HUB Clothing“It’s important to see what other cities are doing in regards to fashion,” Mumford says. “I make sure to go to trade shows in different cities, such as L.A and San Francisco, as well as the showrooms of different vendors.”

Whether it’s within the country or abroad, Mumford believes there is something to be learned.

Since 1992 when it opened in Scottsdale, HUB has brought men’s and women’s collections, including Nudie, G-Star and Diesel, to the area. The store is renowned for being the first to have specific items in stock.

“We were the first to get TOMS shoes, and now they are everywhere,” Mumford says. HUB Clothing“That was really exciting.” TOMS is just one example of how travel has given HUB inspiration and impacted the business.

Sometimes inspiration is found when it’s not sought after. Mumford says she gets ideas from going on vacation or reading magazines such as Vogue and GQ.

“It’s important to be really open to all different forms of media to see what’s going on in the fashion world,” Mumford says.HUB Clothing

Although HUB gains influence from all over the world, the top priority is the happiness of customers here in the Valley, Mumford says. And HUB stays true to its vision: buying for customers. Mumford says she relies on her instincts when making a purchase.

“You have to remember who your client is,” Mumford adds. “If you buy clothes just for the trend, it could be hit or miss.”

It’s this individualized customer service and loyalty to its customers that Mumford says sets HUB apart from other clothing stores like it. Employees understand that a customer is more than a sale; in fact, they are known on a first-name basis, and employees strive to make each person who walks in the store feel welcome and special, she adds.

“I hire people who have a passion for the fashion industry, and they are trained to know all about our products and how they fit,” Mumford says. “You walk in, and we can fit you into the perfect pair of jeans.”

According to Mumford, this unique experience intertwined with trendy inspiration gained by travel makes HUB the place it is.

“I travel to go and look at what’s going to translate best for my clientele,” Mumford says. “Traveling is a necessity.”

For more information about HUB Clothing, visit hubclothing.com.

Hub Clothing
Scottsdale Fashion Square
7014 E. Camelback Rd., Scottsdale
(480) 970-0707

Olivy and Ivy dining review

Olive and Ivy Restaurant: A Comfortable And Sophisticated Eatery

Local foodies know that if you want to visit a trendy, happening spot, you usually can’t go wrong with a Fox Restaurant location. Monday, being the stressful day that it is, put me in the mood for a good lunch in a great atmosphere. I decided to join my colleagues for lunch at Olive and Ivy Restaurant and Marketplace at Scottsdale Fashion Square.

When you enter into the restaurant you immediately feel as if your “cool” meter went up a few notches. The atmosphere is beautiful and modern. The bar area is large and comfortable, and the multiple dining areas offer sophisticated, roomy seating.

Unfortunately, it was raining when we arrived, so the patio was unavailable. Overlooking the Scottsdale Waterfront, the patio is a perfect area for a girl’s night out or a first date; sorry guys, the patio is probably not your scene unless you are looking to impress your girl. Additionally, as a parent of a three year old, I’d tend to keep my child at home and save this location for date nights and grown-up meals.

There are two options for dining at Olive and Ivy. You can dine in or order from the Marketplace, which is like a chic neighborhood market — think baked goods, cheeses and other fancy-feeling food.

As enticing as the Marketplace side of the venue is, we chose to dine in. The dining room was full and bustling with a variety of clientele offering a pleasant, adult atmosphere. The wait time was short, and the service was courteous and timely.

We ordered from the lunch menu. I chose the bruschetta, chopped chicken salad, a cup of tomato soup and cheesecake. We were also served bread and house pesto, which was a great-tasting way to pique our appetites.

Bruschetta: Choice of three for $11

We chose the Prosciutto-Fig, Apple Caponata and the Funghi. The portions were sufficient, but the menu — or rather the server — lacked appropriate descriptions. I was disappointed that the Funghi was not described as cold. I love mushrooms, but prefer them hot rather than cooked and cooled.

However, the Apple Caponata was a nice alternative to the traditional apple-and-brie on many bruschetta menus across town. Although two of the three were interesting, I think Phoenix offers better bruschetta in other venues, so I would most likely pass on Olive and Ivy’s version on my next visit.

Chopped Chicken Salad: $11

I am now in love with this salad! It was a mixture of chicken, blue cheese, bacon, avocado, buttermilk dressing and granola — yes, granola. Olive and Ivy really took the basics of a chopped salad and elevated it with a sweet, unique twist. I decided to split this dish with my co-worker, and there was plenty for both of us.

Tomato Soup: $4

Let’s face it; tomato soup, done traditionally, is either good or bad. This version was robust with flavor and perfect for the chilly, rainy day of my visit.

Cheesecake: $5

This dessert was described as having a brown butter crust with seasonal fruit. It was delivered in a mason style jar with no crust as described on the menu. It was simply a jar of cheesecake, and the cranberry topping was too tart to compliment the sweetness of the cake. Once I realized there was no crust involved and scraped off the topping, the cheesecake was the same as any other that you would find on a dessert menu. I would not order this dessert again.

Overall our lunch was a good experience, meeting the expectations that I have come to expect from a Fox concept. I would recommend Olive and Ivy for any social dining date or business lunch. They also provide an impressive wine list and private party area that could be perfect for your next corporate event.

Olive and Ivy rating:

Food: 3 out of 5
Service: 5 out of 5
Atmosphere: 5 out of 5

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If You Go: Olive and Ivy Restaurant

7135 E. Camelback Rd., #260, Scottsdale
(480) 751-2200



Retail Centers - AZRE Magazine July/August 2011

Arizona's Retail Centers Are Top Economic Drivers

Arizona’s Retail Industry, Retail Centers Top Economic Driver

The world of retail has come a long way since Arizona’s first shopping center, Park Central Mall, opened in 1957. Back then, the state was known mostly for cowboys, cactus and critters.

How times have changed.

Arizona’s retail industry is now one of the state’s top economic drivers, as spectacular shopping centers have sprung up from the desert floor over the years.

The History of Arizona’s Shopping and Retail Centers

Built in 1961, trendy Scottsdale Fashion Square is Arizona’s largest retail center at 2 MSF. The Westcor-developed mall is home to high-end retailers such as Barneys New York, Nordstrom, Gucci and Neiman Marcus.

To appreciate the history of retail in Arizona, however, one simply needs to return to its roots: Park Central Mall.

Located on Central Avenue in midtown Phoenix, Park Central Mall originally was anchored by Goldwater’s, Diamond’s and a “five-and-dime” store. It was an open-air facility that helped put Arizona on the real restate map. It served as the first stepping stone to Arizona’s long history of retail. The next two major projects — Christown Mall and Metro Center — also are key milestones on that timeline. Rick Hearn, director of leasing at Vestar Development Company, recognizes their historical importance.

“Christown, Metro Center, Park Central — what was happening in Arizona was also happening around the country. We were in step with the rest of the world,” Hearn says.

Christown, now known as Phoenix Spectrum Mall, was Arizona’s third shopping center. As the state’s first closed center, it also was one of the first air-conditioned malls in the Western United States.

According to Stan Sanchez, president and partner of De Rito Partners, much of Christown’s appeal and success were a result of the surrounding mixed-use amenities. There were multiple components including hotels, auto malls and other retail stores. These elements enhanced Christown’s viability in particular, and Arizona retail in general.

Metro Center, at 1.39 MSF, is Arizona’s second largest retail center. When it opened in October 1973, it was considered one of the largest malls in the country. With two levels and a series of popular anchors, Metro Center set a great precedent for later retails projects in Arizona and the U.S.

According to Hearn, Metro Center was a step away from the typical “mom-and-pop centers,” but certainly a step in the right direction. It wasn’t just a retail center; it was a commercial location as well, building on the mixed-use components for which Christown had previously become famous.

Malls such as Metro Center catered to typical shoppers and enabled them to purchase multiple, everyday needs in one easy trip.

“As (retail) developers we really have to cater to the retailers,” says Jim Pederson, chairman of The Pederson Group. Pederson, along with other real estate developers, also made it a point to identify the needs of the consumers.

Metro Center was a stepping stone to the next level for Arizona, De Rito’s Sanchez says. And that next level would be achieved with each additional project after Metro Center. Scottsdale Pavilions, recently renamed The Pavilions at Talking Stick, was built in 1989. It was one of the first retail centers built on Native American land in Arizona.

Today it’s a 1.1 MSF open-air “power center” with retailers such as Sports Authority, Target, Home Depot and Walmart. According to Chuck Carlise, president of De Rito Partners, the strongest anchors for shopping centers are grocery stores. As the “bread and butter” of De Rito and other developers, grocery stores have proven to be a very successful format for retail.

But more goes into building a successful retail center in Arizona than just anchor stores, especially in the unavoidable heat of the desert. In the middle of summer, shoppers need a place to go and a place to eat that will shelter them from the blistering sun. With retail centers such as Mesa Riverview and Tempe Marketplace, there is the option to shop, eat or play inside and out.

“It’s important to withstand the extreme temperatures while still taking care of the people’s needs” Pederson says.

Mesa Riverview, a De Rito development that opened in 2007, targets a broad audience and all aspects of the consumer with office buildings, auto malls, retail stores and other commercial businesses. From a trendsetter’s standpoint, Hearn of Vestar understands the need for people to avoid the heat and the need to design projects that can keep them cool and happy.

Part of what keeps shoppers happy is the lifestyle component of destinations such as Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarters, which include residences, hospitality, entertainment, office and retail.

Designed in 1997 to be the first urban village to integrate mixed-use with outdoor shopping, Kierland Commons (on the Phoenix-Scottsdale border) opened in 2000 and has served as a benchmark for similar mixed-use projects around the nation.

“If you were able to take a look from a satellite view, it was really the evolution of the communities that led to the method the developers used to custom tailor the development to Arizona’s lifestyle and how they wanted to live” Sanchez explains.

CityScape in Downtown Phoenix is another example of how Arizona retail has evolved. As Phoenix grew, CityScape, a mixed-use skyscraper, became a part of the downtown skyline. Part of the appeal, according to Hearn, is the downtown office, urban feel that CityScape provides. It’s unique to the area, but gives Phoenix a great deal of character. The only aspects missing are quality residential developments.

Despite the recession and record-high vacancy rates in Arizona’s retail sector, there is hope for the future.

“Phoenix has always rebounded,” Hearn says. “We’re in the top 11 states for job growth and for relocation. We have a quality of life that no one else has.”

That quality of life is evident at such retail projects as Scottsdale Fashion Square, Chandler Fashion Square and San Tan Village in Gilbert

From its start in 1957, Arizona retail has grown into a formidable industry across the state. With mixed-use, open air and luxury options, shoppers have every aspect of retail at their fingertips.

“The beauty of how Arizona’s retail has evolved is the fact it created your Saturday mid-day experience,” Sanchez says. “Arizona developers have given the public all they need for every day of the week.”

AZRE Magazine July/August 2011

Ranking Arizona presents Best of the Best Awards 2011

2011 Best of the Best Awards Photo Gallery

Ranking Arizona hosted it’s special awards reception, recognizing the companies that Arizona’s public ranks as their favorites with which to do business.

Some of the Companies recognized this year include Donovan’s Steak & Chop House, St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center, National Bank of Arizona, The Go Daddy Group Inc., Rossmar & Graham, Scottsdale Fashion Square, CB Richard Ellis, Phoenix Convention Center, KPNX-TV – Channel 12 and  Wist Office Products.

Check out the full Gallery on Flickr…

Cheryl Green AZ Big Media Publisher


[slickr-flickr tag=”Best of the Best 2011″ items=”106″ type=”galleria” use_key=”y”]

2010 Best of the Best Awards

2011 Best of the Best Winners

On March 31st, the 2011 Best of the Best Awards reception and dinner was held at Camelback Inn where Ranking Arizona recognized the companies that Arizona’s public ranked as their favorites to do business with.

During this special night of networking and celebrations, Ranking Arizona presented awards to its 2010 B.O.B. winners, 2010 and 2011 Platinum Hall of Fame honorees and the 2011 B.O.B. winners.

View photos of the event on Flickr.

Video by Nick Cervi

Congratulations to the 2011 Best of the Best Winners!

Advertising, Marketing & Media

KPNX-TV Channel 12

News Talk 92.3 KTAR

The Lavidge Company

Business Services

Wist Office Products

O’Neil Printing
Jani-King Southwest


Donovan’s Steak & Chop House

T. Cook’s at Royal Palms
Vincent’s on Camelback

Finance & Professional

National Bank of Arizona

Arizona State Credit Union

Farmers Insurance Co.

Health Care

St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center

Chandler Regional Medical Center
Delta Dental of Arizona

Manufacturing & Technology

The Go Daddy Group Inc.

The Boeing Company

Real Estate Commercial

CB Richard Ellis

Ryan Companies US Inc.
Adolfson & Peterson Construction

Real Estate Residential

Rossmar & Graham

Fireside at Norterra by Del Webb
Legacy Design Build Remodeling


Scottsdale Fashion Square

Molina Fine Jewelers
Camelback VOLKSWAGEN Subaru Mazda


Phoenix Convention Center

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

2009 Best of the Best Winners

Best of the Best Awards 2011, AZ Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011

Best of the Best Awards 2011: Retail

Winner: Scottsdale Fashion Square

Scottsdale Fashion Square, AZ Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011 Scottsdale Fashion Square is the premier regional shopping center in the Southwest, attracting visitors who seek quality sophistication and selection. An unparalleled retail experience, Scottsdale Fashion Square has a unique style and atmosphere that makes it Arizona’s epicenter of elite and first-to-market brands. Comprised of more than 240 shops and restaurants, the center boasts nearly 50 stores exclusive to Arizona, including Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, Ted Baker, Tory Burch, David Yurman, Omega and Kate Spade. Scottsdale Fashion Square also offers a multitude of dining options, including Modern Steak, Fred’s at Barneys New York, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen and more.
Year Est: 1961
Total SQFT: 1.8M
Principal(s): Westcor
Scottsdale Fashion Square Logo, Best of the Best 2011, Retail 7014 E. Camelback Rd., #590
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Finalist: Molina Fine Jewelers

Molina Fine Jewelers, AZ Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011 History is filled with examples of companies that have experienced incredible growth during periods of financial and economic unrest. Molina Fine Jewelers is committed to continuing its strong growth by nurturing and living the corporate values that have served Molina so well since its inception in 1987. Molina has adopted nine non-negotiable corporate values: 1) Do the right thing; 2) Help one another; 3) Deliver legendary service … the WOW Factor; 4) Produce quality always; 5) Exceed expectations … “Never Say No” attitude; 6) Embrace change; 7) Accept social responsibility; 8 ) Earn a reasonable profit; 9) Do what others are not willing to do. These values are the foundation for what Molina is and does.
Year Est: 1987
AZ Staff: 48
Principals: Al Molina, Owner;
Bryan Greenwood, COO
Molina Fine Jewelers Logo, Best of the Best 2011, Retail 3134 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Finalist: Camelback Volkswagen Subaru Mazda

Camelback Volkswagen Subaru Mazda, AZ Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011 Camelback Volkswagen Subaru and Mazda never forgets that it is all about the customer. It has imbedded this philosophy within its staff and processes. For example, its five-day “no hassle” return policy sets Camelback Volkswagen apart from other dealers. You can literally bring the car back with no questions asked. The Camelback Volkswagen team is led by Mark Exposito, who has been a part of the dealership for more than 13 years. He continues to improve the way Camelback Volkswagen does business. His goal is to develop a dealership that has customers for life and not just a single visit. With his vision, Camelback Volkswagen is confident it will thrive in this ever-changing world.
Year Est: 1989
Cars Sold: 2,376
Principal(s): Mark Exposito,
Larry Van Tuyl
Camelback Volkswagen Subaru Mazda Logo, Best of the Best 2011, Retail 1499 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85014

Arizona Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011

Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Sterling Award.

Scottsdale Area Chamber Of Commerce Gives Out Its Annual Sterling Awards

Four Scottsdale businesses received the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious Sterling Award.  The 25th annual Sterling Awards were handed out yesterday, Nov. 16, to a packed house at the Scottsdale Resort and Convention Center.

The Sterling Award is presented to companies that make Scottsdale a great place to live, work and play. Four teams of judges narrowed the field from 12 and selected one winner in each of the following four categories–micro, small and big business, and nonprofit.

Celebration of Fine Art was awarded the Sterling Award in the micro business category, which is awarded to businesses with fewer than seven employees that exhibit success through innovation, creativity and collaboration. Celebration of Fine Art champions art in all forms, from furniture and jewelry to watercolor and pastels, and gives visitors the opportunity to converse with the artists as they work.

Human Capital Strategies won the Sterling Award in the small business category, which is awarded to businesses with seven to 99 employees that demonstrates innovation, quality, professionalism and commitment to community. Jason Knight started Human Capital Strategies in 2007 to “do what small business owners and office managers don’t like to do, don’t know how to do and, often times, don’t even know they are supposed to do.®”

Scottsdale Fashion Square was awarded the Sterling Award in the big business category, which goes to businesses with more than 100 employees that significantly impacts the community’s economic fabric. Scottsdale Fashion Square is one of the Valley’s premier tourist destinations, but also gives back in many ways, including partnerships with nonprofit organizations and employee volunteerism.

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance received the Sterling Award in the nonprofit category, which is awarded to a charitable organization that contributes to the social, cultural and educational well-being of those it serves. As the world’s first food bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance is committed to improving the quality of life in Arizona and serves 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties.

Other businesses were recognized in the four categories. Reliable Background Screening, Sonoran Studios, Payroll Experts, Hot Air Expeditions, DMB Associates, Mayo Clinic, Gabriel’s Angels and Every Kid Counts, Inc. were all recognized at the ceremony, which was emceed by Good Morning Arizona anchor and host Tara Hitchcock.





Jimmy Woos

Jimmy Woo’s Doesn’t Disappoint In Old Town Scottsdale

If you crave excellent Mexican, Italian, Contemporary American, or even old-fashioned ice cream, Old Town Scottsdale has always been the place to go.  With P.F. Chang’s dominating the Chinese food scene a few blocks down at Scottsdale Fashion Square, there has never been a reason to venture into Old Town for Chinese cuisine … until now.

Jimmy Woo’s Chinese Food will be the new staple of Old Town. With great food and a great atmosphere that runs from lunch until midnight, Jimmy Woo’s is ideal for the curious tourist and late night clubber. With a color scheme of red and black, the restaurant has an indoor and outdoor bar, perfect for casual hors d’oeuvres and drinks.  The low lighting inside provides a great ambience and a social atmosphere. After taking a look around inside, our party was seated outside. I was a little weary at first, thinking it would be loud, with the patio near the street. It was surprisingly quiet.

When first seated, my dining companions were served green tea. Not expecting this, I thought it was very charming. The tea was very good; not big fans of green tea, my dining companions and I were very surprised.

We started off with appetizers, the Pork Dumplings and Wonton Soup. The Wonton Soup was delicious, the chicken broth providing lots of flavor. The texture was also fantastic with a stark contrast between the hot broth and the slippery, smooth wonton, filled with minced pork. Next up, were the Pork Dumplings. Very similar to pot stickers, these dumplings can be served steamed or pan fried. We had them steamed.  They were good – until I tried them in the sauce that came with them. Made of soy and scallions, it made these dumplings absolutely mouthwatering.

For the entrée we were served the Kung Poa Shrimp, General Woo’s Chicken, and Woo’s Noodles. When picking our favorite entree, my dining partners and I differed.  Two of us were thrilled with the shrimp, while the other hogged the chicken the entire night.

I loved the shrimp and thought it had fantastic flavor. It had a very subtle smoked flavor, mixed in with the peanuts, dried chili peppers, and onions. It was seafood without that real fishy flavor. Perfect for my taste buds.

One of my dining companions loved the chicken because it was sweet and spicy. The scallions added an extra kick with the sweet and spicy sauce.

The noodle dish came in third because it just wasn’t spicy enough for our taste buds.  We all thought the egg noodles in a chili bean sauce needed an extra kick. For those of you who aren’t a huge fan of spicy food, Woo’s Noodles would be perfect.

For dessert, we tried Jimmy’s Sweet Puffs. Fried wontons filled with raspberry or chocolate custard, they were very light and flavorful, complimenting our meal.

By the end of the night, I was completely satisfied with my flavorful meal. I recommend Jimmy Woo’s Chinese Food to anyone with an inclination for Chinese food in the Old Town Scottsdale area.

Z'Tejas' ancho fudge pie.  Photo: Z'Tejas

Z’Tejas Offers Tasty, Spicy Food In A Relaxed Atmosphere

After hours of marathon shopping, or hours of watching the woman in your life try on every item of clothing in the mall, you’ve finally made it to the food court. You scan the possibilities and nothing looks appetizing. Not pizza. Not a sandwich. Not a teriyaki bowl. Luckily, at Scottsdale Fashion Square, there’s another option, one that’s much more appealing than awkwardly hovering over other patrons or elbowing people for tables in the crowded food court.

Z’Tejas is right around the corner, and there’s no tray carrying or standing in line.

As soon as we sat down, my dining companions and I realized that Z’Tejas’ atmosphere is as far removed from the hustle and bustle of the brightly lit mall as Pluto is from the sun. The dimly lit interior is accented with dozens of hanging lights that add to the modern Southwestern décor – there’s not a cowboy hat or cow skull in sight. There is, however, a mural, reminiscent of Thelma and Louise, with an empty, two-lane highway leading into the picturesque desert, towering red-brown mountains and wide-open sky.

Dark wood, wrought iron accents and low lighting invite diners into a comfortable place to have a relaxing meal in between all of the credit card swiping.

The name of the game for our meal was spicy. We started off with Z’Tejas’ signature catfish beignets served with jalapeno tartar sauce, which, for someone who has never tasted catfish or a beignet, were surprisingly delicious. The crispy cornmeal crust paired with the moist, yet flaky catfish made me keep eating, even though the beignets were piping hot.

With our beignets we had the complimentary cornbread topped with mouthwatering honey butter, which never fails to satisfy. If I could I would take a tub of the honey butter home with me.

For dinner we shared our meals family style. The Voo Doo Tuna, topped with peppercorn vinaigrette, spicy soy mustard and pickled ginger, was a table favorite and the side of seasonal vegetables, a mix of zucchini and seasonal squash, were a delicious addition.

The chef’s soup of the day, chicken and vegetable, was packed with veggies and spice.  The celery, red peppers, zucchini, onions, among other veggies, and chicken were immersed in a rich broth that we couldn’t stop eating.

The pesto rubbed chicken, on the gluten free menu, was a surprise from a side of the menu to which I don’t usually venture. The tangy cilantro pesto rub complemented the grilled flavor of the chicken.

To end our night, we ordered the ancho fudge pie. The dash of ancho chile didn’t overwhelm with spice but enhanced the chocolate flavor, while the walnuts, pecans and flaky crust balanced out the rich fudge.

A meal at Z’Tejas would refresh and relax even the weariest shopper, giving him or her a new jolt of energy to continue shopping. But even if you aren’t part of the hustle and bustle of the Fashion Square shopping experience, Z’Tejas is a perfect place to take your date, your family or your friends for tasty food, with a hint of spice.

2010 Best of the Best Awards

2010 BOB Awards: Retail

The following companies won the Gold, Silver and Bronze rankings in the Retail category of the 2010 BOB Awards.

2010 Best Of The Best Awards: Retail

2010 Best of the Best AwardsScottsdale Fashion Square
Shopping Centers: Arizona

Year Est.: 1961
Total Sq. Ft.: 1.8 M
Principal(s): Westcor

2010 BOB AwardsScottsdale Fashion Square is the premier luxury center in the Southwest, attracting visitors who seek elegance, quality and sophistication. An unparalleled retail experience, Scottsdale Fashion Square has a unique style and atmosphere that makes it Arizona’s epicenter of elite and exclusive brands. Comprised of more than 225 shops and restaurants, the center boasts more than 40 stores exclusive to Arizona, including Neiman Marcus, kate spade, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Salvatore Ferragamo, MaxMara, Gucci, Michael Kors and Barneys New York.

2010 Best of the Best AwardsCamelback Volkswagen Subaru Mazda

Car Dealers: $39K or less

2010 BOB AwardsYear Est.: 1989
Cars Sold: 2,118
Principal(s): Mark Exposito, Larry Van Tuyl

2010 BOB AwardsMolina Fine Jewelers


2010 BOB AwardsYear Est.: 1987
AZ Staff: 48
Principal(s): Alfredo J. Molina

2010 Best of the Best Hall of Fame


Scottsdale Fashion Square - Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Best of the Best Awards 2009: Retail

Retail Honoree Shopping Centers

Scottsdale Fashion Square

Scottsdale Fashion Square - Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Photograph by Duane Darling

Scottsdale Fashion Square is the premier luxury center in the Southwest, attracting visitors who seek elegance, quality and sophistication. An unparalleled retail experience, Scottsdale Fashion Square has a unique style and atmosphere that make it Arizona’s epicenter of elite and exclusive brands. Comprised of more than 225 shops and restaurants, the center boasts more than 40 stores exclusive to Arizona, including Neiman Marcus, kate spade, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Salvatore Ferragamo, MaxMara, Gucci and Michael Kors, to name a few. Recent additions to the center include Bottega Veneta, Grand Lux Cafe, AIX Armani Exchange, Metropark, Puma and CH Carolina Herrera. Just as style never stands still, neither does Scottsdale Fashion Square. A multiphased renovation and expansion, projected to open fall 2009, will introduce Barneys New York to the Arizona market.

A multiphased renovation and expansion, projected to open fall 2009, will introduce Barneys New York to the Arizona market.

7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale

Year Est: 1964
Total SQFT: 1.8M
Principal(s): Westcor

Retail Finalist Car Dealers: $39K or less

Camelback Volkswagen Subaru Mazda

Camelback Volkswagen Subaru and Mazda, for the 10th year in a row, congratulates its customers, employees and award winning lineup of fuel efficient top models for safety- and crashtested Volkswagen, Subaru and Mazda products for 2009. Its great service staff provides extended hours, free service loaner cars and a pleasant environment for valued customers. Browse its interactive Web site at www.camelbackdifference. Its entire inventory is listed for your streamlined-buying process, as well as its weekly specials. You are encouraged to feel at home on the site.

1499 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix

Retail Finalist Jewelers

Molina Fine Jewelers

It is not a mirage. It is an oasis, one where you can acquire the most magnificent and spectacular gems in the world. Molina Fine Jewelers is the “Jewel of The Desert” with 12 generations of expertise. Entering Molina, you are transported to the Old World traditions of personalized service, where they exceed your every expectation. Molina designs are handmade by master jewelers, where every detail, including the execution of its internal structure, embodies flawless design and wearability. Its one-of-a-kind collections will captivate and inspire you, bringing your emotions and desires to life.

3134 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix

Best of the Best Awards 2009 presented by Ranking Arizona

Kona Grill opening new location

Kona Grill Opens Third Location In The Valley

By Noelle Coyle and Janet Perez

Despite the sluggish economy, restaurants continue to open or expand in the Valley, and Arizona native Kona Grill is no exception. Originally founded in Scottsdale in 1998, the restaurant has expanded throughout the United States, with locations in Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Louisiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Texas and Florida. In June, it came back to its roots with the opening of a new location in Gilbert, and there are more plans for growth on the horizon. The Gilbert location joins two other Kona Grills in the Valley at Scottsdale Fashion Square and Chandler Fashion Center.

The new Gilbert restaurant opened at SanTan Village, one of many recent outdoor lifestyle malls built in the Valley. Kona Grill’s interior includes many of its signature features, including soft lighting, a granite sushi bar and a 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium filled with exotic fish.

Like its decor, Kona Grill’s menu is an inspired combination of American comfort food and Pacific Rim ingredients.

The appetizers exemplify this philosophy with onion rings served with a pineapple chipotle and spicy mustard sauce; blackened catfish or macadamia nut chicken tacos; calamari with a spicy aioli dipping sauce; and Kahuna Bites, beef sliders seasoned with onions and thyme. I was disappointed to see that one of my favorite Kona Grill appetizers is no longer on the menu, a spicy salmon sashimi paired with sour cream and avocado and wrapped in a flour tortilla that is then flash-fried. Here’s hoping Kona Grill brings that delight back.

Kona GrillThe dinner menu abounds with baby back ribs, pizzas, macadamia nut chicken, lemon grass crusted halibut and sweet chili-glazed salmon. The pizza toppings run the gamut of exotic from regular pepperoni to shitake mushrooms and goat cheese. The macadamia nut chicken might sound simple, but it features a shoyu cream sauce and a pineapple-papaya marmalade.

A special treat is the Big Island Meatloaf. If you’re expecting it to be just like Mom used to make, you’ll be in for a surprise — unless Mom hails from Hawaii. The meatloaf is made with sweet Italian and Andouille sausage with a mushroom ragu. The dish is topped off with white cheddar mashed potatoes and wok-tossed vegetables.

If you’re in the mood for steak, Kona Grill provides with 6 and 10-ounce filets, and a 20-ounce, bone-in rib-eye.

Now for me, the real attraction to Kona Grill is the sushi. I love sushi, but I realize not everyone shares my enthusiasm, so with its full-complement of non-sushi dishes, friends and I can go to Kona Grill and both be happy.

The basic rolls and sashimi are handled well at Kona Grill, but it’s the restaurant’s specialty sushi dishes that are a real delight.

Called Kona Rolls, my favorites are the spider roll, deep fried soft-shell crab with crab mix, avocado and cucumber wrapped in seaweed and soy paper, and topped with a sweet eel sauce; and the Sunshine Roll, spicy salmon with cucumbers wrapped with rice and seaweed, and topped with fresh salmon and thinlysliced lemon. Of the chef’s specials, I’m a fan of the Volcano, a dish made of baked crab, white fish and yamagobo (pickled burdock plant) and topped with motoyaki sauce, sriracha and eel sauce.

The Asian-fusion philosophy doesn’t extend to the dessert menu. The goodies there are strictlyall-American with fudge brownies, apple crisps, banana pudding and even a root beer float. The one exception is the crème brûlée, in which the traditional custard is infused with fresh passion fruit.