Chef Erasmo "Razz" Kamnitzer, namesake of Razz's Restaurant and Bar and seventh-generation chef, infuses flavors from his native Venezuela to his eatery's upscale fusion menu. Like all dinner-theater performers, Razz dazzles diners with stovetop pyrotechnics in his open show kitchen, simmering up spicy bouillabaisse full of shellfish and finfish, or ladling chops and fillets with lime sauce, tropical-fruit relish, lingonberry sauce, and other zesty flavors. Guests can pair savory bites with sips from the wine list, with selections available by the glass, bottle, or fluted barrel. Razz's also caters special events such as weddings and holiday parties.
Born and raised in France, chef Cedric S. Fichepain carried his family recipes and passion for traditional French fare across the pond in 1997. Four years later, Cedric cut the ribbon at Le Voltaire Restaurant, which serves up classics such as croque madame sandwiches and coq au vin stewed in white wine. The cellar's 1,000-bottle inventory of French wines has earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence eight years in a row, and the eatery was also recognized as one of the city's best French dining experiences in _Omaha Magazine'_s Best of Omaha 2012. The restaurant's lemon-yellow walls and rough-hewn wooden door create a rustic feel, and beneath a unique glass bar top is a display of carefully arranged dried flowers.
It might seem as if the owners of Zinc Bistro didn’t bother to consult a map when devising the concept for their new restaurant: a Parisian bistro by way of New York. But though Phoenix isn’t the likeliest home for such a place, you won’t hear any locals complaining. They’re too enamored with the round marble tables and wicker chairs that line the bistro’s sidewalk. Such overtly French accents seem right at home beside the burbling fountain on the garden patio, where guests share romantic dinners and afternoon cocktails. Though it certainly stands out in the parched Sonoran Desert, the patio isn’t the most notable aspect of Zinc Bistro. That honor belongs to chef Matt Carter’s contemporary bistro cuisine. The Phoenix native shows an uncommon understanding of classic French cooking techniques, whether he’s crafting crepes with Dungeness crab and lobster cream or finding the perfect balance of flavors in his foie gras risotto. As if that weren’t enough, there’s also an oyster bar where staff serve fresh seafood and hold shells to guests’ ears so they can hear the ocean while they eat.
In 2009, Richard and Isabelle Horvath took what would be a fateful trip from their native France to Scottsdale, Arizona. But despite falling in love with the city’s seemingly endless supply of sunshine, they felt something was missing: an authentic creperie. So, they returned to France, quit their jobs, moved to Scottsdale, and opened exactly the type of authentic, French eatery they had in mind. Inside their cozy creperie—made all the cozier with wooden, farm-style dining tables and walls bedecked with dinner plates—they fill organic buckwheat-flour crepes with savory fillings, such as roast chicken, herbed fingerling potatoes, sautéed scallops, and shaved ham. Dessert crepes sate sweeter cravings––the half & half crepe combines nutella and orange syrup, while the chef's special exotic crepe blends toasted coconut, dark chocolate, and bananas into an island-inspired treat that has been known to make eaters spontaneously sprout leis around their necks. Besides crepes, diners can find a taste of Paris in sandwiches built upon fresh, French baguettes, salads topped with warm chevre, and a modest selection of French wines.
With only 33 seats inside and 40 outside, Petite Maison stays true to its name. And though it be but little, it is fierce. The cozy French bistro was named a 2010 Best New Restaurant by Phoenix magazine and won the Best Late-Night Nosh award from the Phoenix New Times. Concentrating on classic, rustic French dishes, chef James Porter sources local foods to create such dishes as foie gras with cranberry chutney and seared sea bass with lobster risotto. His meals pair well with a selection from Petite Maison’s extensive wine list, which also features cocktails, cordials, and beer, and they can be enjoyed under sparkling chandeliers or surrounded by flora on a garden patio. And for daring diners eager for even more rich cuisine, Porter offers a staff meal from 10 p.m. to midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. This creative meal—whose menu is announced on Twitter only hours before—gives the cooks the chance to show off their talents by preparing their best dishes and performing their best torch-juggling routines.
The time-tested lamb, chicken, and seafood dishes served at the Persian Room all jump from the pages of traditional recipes perfected over centuries. Dried lime, cardamom, basil, turmeric, and a range of spices add zest to grilled and marinated meats, which can be accompanied by bread from a clay oven and helpings of saffron-scented basmati rice.