Tag Archives: Virtù

Top 5 Italian Restaurants (Spring-Summer 2012)

Event showcases Valley’s top Italian chefs and wineries

Join the Italian Association on Friday, September 18, 2015 for one of the best culinary showcases Scottsdale has ever seen. This food and wine celebration will feature delicious bites from five Valley, top Italian chefs and wine tastings from five top Italian wineries. The event begins at 6 p.m. and goes until 9 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott Salt River in Scottsdale. With only 200 seats available, don’t miss out on this exclusive opportunity to experience the “Best of Italy!”

WHO:  The Italian Association of Arizona and five Italian local celebrity chefs; Massimo De Francesca of Taggia at Fire Sky Resort, Chris Nicosia of Sassi, Gio’ Osso of Virtu’,Marcellino Verzino of Marcellino Ristorante and Andrea Volpi of Toscana Osteria.

WHAT:  This is the second annual “Best of Italy” event that the Italian Association has hosted. Guests will enjoy fabulous Italian cuisine and sophisticated wines from five top Italian wineries from different regions: Cantine Catena, Cesari, Fanti, San Felice, and Vietti.

WHEN:  Friday, September 18, 2015 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Registration starts at 5:30 pm.

WHERE:  Courtyard Marriott Salt River
Mark Ballroom
5201 North Pima
Scottsdale, AZ 85250

* To book a room with a special rate at the Courtyard Marriott Salt River, contact info@italianassociation.org.

COST:  Tickets are $99 for members, $125 for non-members if purchased in advance or $125 for members, $150 for non-members at the door. Price includes tastings of all chefs’ entrees and 15 wines from participating wineries. To purchase tickets online, go tohttp://italianassociation.advertisingbusinessconsultants.com/.

Crudo

Crudo dinner series crisscrosses chef creations

Crudo of Phoenix is in the middle of a dinner series, inviting a guest chef into its kitchen once a month to cook alongside Chef Cullen Campbell. Because of the freedom each chef is allowed, the series is being called Blank Space. Guests at the dinner get only a name of a local chef and then come in to be surprised as to what comes from the partnership of the two chefs.

The surprise ends upon arriving to a table, with a menu at each place, reminding diners of the guest chef and allowing them to read what they’ll get to experience within the next few hours. Guests sat themselves at communal tables, furthering the intimate feel that Crudo is striving for with these dinners. By choice, the dinners are kept at around 35 people to contain the intimacy and close-knit community feel.

March’s dinner featured Chef Paul McCabe of T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms in Phoenix. Some of the dishes were clearly Campbell’s creation, like the shell filled with grouper cheeks, live scallops and Kauai shrimp, a seafood amalgamation with ham hock and pork skin in it. Ahi with horseradish, smoked oyster crema and rye chips went with the Crudo name, a word that means “raw” in Italian.

From the communal seating to the overall point of the event – to invite another chef into the Crudo kitchen – the community feel of the dinner was present throughout the evening. Many guests had been to Crudo before, but many were using this event as an excuse to visit the restaurant for the first time. Maureen Campbell, owner with Chef Cullen Campbell and bartender Micah Olson, greeted people by name but offered the same graciousness to first timers as regular guests.

Joanna Eland of Quench Fine Wines gave an introduction before each of the six courses about the five wines she had paired, all sourced from Wind Gap Winery in California.  As with the chef, each month a new sommelier is invited to the dinner another way to introduce guests to the local food and drink culture.

Chef Cullen Campbell came up with the idea for the series and then picked the guest chefs who would cook with him. Furthering the community feel of the dinner, both chefs walked around greeting the guests, and like Maureen, recognized and knew many.

The series’ next dinner is April 13, featuring Chef Josh Hebert from Posh in Scottsdale. Chef Gio Osso from Virtu will be the celebrity chef May 4, and Kevin Binkley of Binkley’s, Café Bink and Bink’s Midtown will finish the series on June 1.

Crudo is located at 3603 E. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix.

Gelato War Spoons

The scoop on this year’s Gelato Wars

The Gelato Spot’s annual Gelato Wars are back! Through August 31, patrons of Gelato Spot can try 10 flavors whipped up by local chefs and vote for their favorite.

Gelato Wars is a month-long competition for bragging rights, a customized copper trophy and $500. It’s also a fund raiser with the goal of donating at least $5,000 to Make-A-Wish Arizona.

“Our mission is to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy…and what’s more joyful than gelato,” said Elizabeth Reich, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Arizona.

Gelato Spot owner Tommy Plato said getting 10 chefs — 5 new and 5 returning — to all come together and create unique gelato flavors was like “herding cats into a cold bathtub.” But we’re here to tell you that the delicious results will beat out a cat bath any day.

Scottsdale Living’s Social Media and Digital Manager Perri Collins taste-tested all 10 flavors and ranked them from best (No. 1) to less-best (No. 10) — come on, there’s no such thing as bad gelato. To even the playing field a little, Associate Editor Amanda Ventura weighed in, too.

Camelback Crunch, Tracey Dempsey Originals

Camelback Crunch, Tracey Dempsey Originals

Blueberry Buttermilk Pie
Justin Beckett and Jeff Schoening, Beckett’s Table
This creamy and sweet gelato flavor is a delightful mix of marion berries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries from the northwest, where Jeff Schoening hails from.
Where I ranked it: No. 9
[Editor’s Note: This flavor was like a cheesecake wrapped up in sweet ribbons of berry mixture. I think it was simple, delicious and something I’d eat a few more scoops of, but it’s not novel enough to stand out among the competition.]

Camelback Crunch
Tracey Dempsey, Tracey Dempsey Originals
The 2013 defending champion, Tracey Dempsey, made a dessert homage to her residence near Camelback Mountain. This gelato is a nice balance of flavors and textures that don’t seem to have much in common at first, but they blend really well together.
Where I ranked it: No. 1
[Editor’s Note: This was in my top three, but that’s in large part due to the fact that Tracey Dempsey used all of my favorite flavors in one gelato.]

Honey Toasted Almond Biscotti
Gio Osso, Virtu
“I grew up eating with toasted almond bars from the neighborhood ice cream truck, so I used that as my inspiration and added salt for a more sophisticated taste,” says Osso. If you like sweet, then this flavor is for you. It was tasty, but the sugary sweetness overwhelmed the nuts.
Where I ranked it: No. 3
[Editor’s Note: This flavor was actually a bit too salty for me — though I do love some almonds and salted caramel.]

White Chocolate Stracciatella
Josh Hebert, Posh
The cherry and chocolate combination was nothing new and exciting. It was subtle and refreshing, but rather middle of the road.
Where I ranked it: No. 6
[Editor’s Note: I agree here. I think the flavor was delicious but lacked the novelty of the other competitors.]

Sage Brown Butter & Candied Cashew
Josh Bracher, The Second Story Liquor Bar
The candied cashews had an amazing flavor. It was the perfect balance of sweet and salty.
Where I ranked it: No. 5
[Editor’s Note: Yep. This was a balanced cup of sweet nuttiness.]

Carrot Cake
Keenan Bosworth, Pig & Pickle
This was a good idea with bad execution. It tasted nothing like carrot cake, although you could really taste the goat cheese in the gelato.
Where I ranked it: No. 7
[Editor’s Note: Maybe I built this flavor up more in my head because I love carrot cake; I eat it every year for my birthday. However, I did like the incorporation of the goat cheese. It was in my top five.]

Chocolate Sorbet with Smoked Almonds and Caramel
Walter Sterling, Ocotillo (set to open later this year)
A chocolate gelato won last year’s competition, so Walter Sterling chose something with chocolate in hopes of stealing the trophy, but we think his dreams are about to be dashed. The chocolate was very bitter, the caramel wasn’t as pronounced as it should have been and the nuts were too large and crunchy.
Where I ranked it: No. 8
[Editor’s Note: This vegan dark chocolate sorbet was delicious. You really do have to like bitter chocolate, though. When I was vegan, I learned to really love dark chocolate so I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. If anything, this is one of the more decadent flavors better enjoyed in small portions.]

Mole
Michael Dowd, Urban Vine
Mole is an ambitious flavor with 17 different spices and nutella folded into this gelato for a spicy explosion on your tongue. It tasted like a kid grab handfuls of every spice he could find in a middle-eastern market and mixed them together with chocolate milk.
Where I ranked it: No. 10
[Editor’s Note: This was in my top three. It reminded me of eating peppery German gingerbread, Lebkuchen, as a kid.]

Sweet Corn with Truffle Honey
Matt Carter, The Mission & Zinc Bistro
It was hard to taste the corn or honey over the overpowering thyme in this gelato flavor. The layers of corn and blueberry would have made a better impression
Where I ranked it: No. 4
[Editor’s Note: I agree, but the sweet corn ice cream is a must-try. I can still kind of taste it as I type this.]

Smoked Banana Pudding
Scott Holmes, Little Miss BBQ
“We’re a BBQ place, we had to smoke something!” says Scott Holmes. This is a simple idea with complex flavors and a delightful finish. Well done!
Where I ranked it: No. 2
[Editor’s Note: Yes! Remember those vanilla wafer and banana puddings your mom made for pot lucks? This is the next level of that. There could have been a bit more caramel to balance every bite into perfection, but overall this was a top three flavor.]

Gelato Spot Locations:

Biltmore/Arcadia
3164 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ  85016
602.957.8040

40th St. & Greenway
4010 E. Greenway Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85032
602.494.4010

Old Town Scottsdale (Wood Fired Pizza & Gelato)
4166 N. Scottsdale Rd.
Scottsdale, AZ  85251
480.425.8100

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Virtù Brings Charming Dining to Downtown Scottsdale

After launching Sky Harbor Airport’s Terminal Four into the foodie stratosphere, Chef Gio Osso is seeing his very own restaurant take off in Downtown Scottsdale.

The fine dining chef who was tapped to oversee the culinary operations the international airport and open dozens of independent eateries has now left for bluer skies at his very own venture,Virtù, the Machiavellian term for achieving excellence.

Osso is taking over the restaurant at the Bespoke Inn, transforming the charming 25-seat eatery into what he describes as “a quiet, cozy secret in Downtown Scottsdale.”

“The menu is definitely rooted in the Mediterranean, but I think of it as wandering Mediterranean,” says Chef Osso. “You might see a few Asian or South American touches here and there.”

Expect a menu that changes almost weekly, with house-made pastas, superb seafood, new Mediterranean creations and rustic favorites. But don’t expect snoozy fine dining here. “It’s a loud symphony,” says Osso. “It’s beautifully composed, but high volume.”

Before the airport, Osso gained national praise for his food at Estate House in Scottsdale where lauded food writer John Mariani described the chef as “one of the finest interpreters of modern American cuisine in the West.”

Virtù will celebrate it’s grand opening June 20. The restaurant features over 30 boutique wines with nearly 15 poured by the glass. The quaint restaurant seats 25 guests inside and an additional 26 on the picturesque courtyard patio.

Virtù is located inside the Bespoke Inn at 3701 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85251.