Twice a year, Arizona Restaurant Week takes place throughout a variety of Valley restaurants, showcasing some of the finest culinary offerings at affordable pricing. The Spring Edition of Arizona Restaurant Week takes place May 19-28. Participating restaurants offer a $33 or $44 three-course prix-fixe menu that features highlighted menu items. Some restaurants price per person, and others price per couple.
During a recent Spring Arizona Restaurant Week Dine Around preview, Scottsdale.com was invited to preview three participating restaurants: MATCH Cuisine and Cocktails at FOUND: RE Hotel for the first course, NOOK Kitchen downtown for our main course and Mancuso’s Restaurant for dessert. Our group of about 25 avid Valley foodies boarded Ollie the Trolley (our transportation for the evening), and we embarked on a taste journey of epic proportions.
We kicked off our restaurant preview by visiting the new digs of the Arizona Restaurant Association in Phoenix. There is a very cool kitchen and meeting space that will certainly serve the organization well for meetings, receptions and food demonstrations. Once we enjoyed a few lovely appetizers and wine, we boarded Ollie the Trolley to whisk us away to our tasty Spring Arizona Restaurant Week preview destinations.
MATCH Cuisine and Cocktails at FOUND: RE Hotel
Our first stop was MATCH Cuisine and Cocktails at FOUND: RE Hotel. There we enjoyed a couple of fabulous cocktails, including the Strolling Through the Agora with Greek mastic spirit, Mediterranean tonic, fresh oregano, lemon juniper, fermented lemon, ouzo and star anise. Where else can you find another drink like this? The atmosphere at MATCH is so much fun and it is a fantastic place to dine as a couple or with friends.
Next, we noshed on a fabulous Farm House Salad. Visually, it was beautiful and it seemed like a “tour” of one of the finest colorful vegetable gardens anywhere, delivered up on a plate. It included a beautiful assortment of local baby vegetables, sun dried tomato pesto and dehydrated Crow’s Dairy goat cheese. We also enjoyed the Fire Roasted Oysters, with Chinese pork sausage, takana, miso custard and a smoked soy. It was a tasty interpretation on an Oysters Rockefeller dish.
Our next stop was Nook Kitchen, an Italian-ish inspired restaurant that bends the rules in a most delicious way. Our taste introduction to Nook was the Polpettine – house made meatballs with pomodoro, parmesan and basil. Along with that, we enjoyed an Italian Summer cocktail with pisco, cognac, cantaloupe rosemary cordial, lime juice and Orleans bitters garnished with a rosemary sprig.
Our main dish featured the Guanciale Carbonara with fresh linguini, roasted garlic, peas, shallots, pecorino Romano, extra virgin olive oil, egg yolk, guanciale, black pepper and grated caciocavallo topped with crispy bacon. Talk about incredible! It was a fabulous dish. We also got the chance to try the Espresso Rubbed Filet an espresso rubbed USDA Prime Filet, herb roasted fingerling potatoes, and Grand Marnier dragon carrots with white truffle cream sauce. Of note, Nook takes exceptional pride in its menu and the staff loves to share the restaurant’s story. So, be sure to ask! We were a bit pressed for time and didn’t get a chance to try the Olive Oil Lemon Ricotta Cake, so we’ll have to save that one for our next visit.
What would dining be in the Valley without Mancuso’s? The classic restaurant used to be located in Phoenix, then moved to The Borgata in Scottsdale. Now, the beloved restaurant has taken up residence in Downtown Phoenix.
We finished our culinary tour at Mancuso’s with a traditional Italian mini-cannoli and an out-of-this-world tiramisu that was layered to absolute taste and texture perfection. It is no wonder that after decades of dazzling diners in the Valley, Mancuso’s still has it!
Here is a list, so far, of the restaurants that are participating in the Spring Arizona Restaurant Week taking place May 19-28, 2017, with more being added each week:
Ajo Al's Mexican Café
Barrio Queen - Gilbert
Barrio Queen - Scottsdale
District American Kitchen & Wine Bar
Firebirds - Chandler
Firebirds - Peoria
Firebirds - Tucson
Salty Sow Phoenix
White Chocolate Grill
Prado at the Omni Scottsdale
The Capital Grille - Phoenix
LON's at the Hermosa
Arizona Restaurant Week is produced by the Arizona Restaurant Association. Here is a list of participating Spring Arizona Restaurant Week Restaurants: http://arizonarestaurantweek.com/restaurants/all-restaurants/.