Chef Vincent Guerithault is a classically trained French chef who first gained notoriety in the 80's when a food editor for The New York Times declared his dishes to be "exceptional." In those days, his menus rarely strayed from his French roots, but as his notoriety grew, so did his creativity. It wasn't long after opening his own restaurant, Vincent's on Camelback, before the area's popular Southwestern ingredients––masa, cilantro, chili peppers––began weaving their way into his classical haute cuisine. Now, 20 years later, Vincent continues to unveil eclectic entrees that seamlessly blend these two seemingly dissimilar cooking styles, such as a wild boar loin with habanero sauce or a duck tamale with Anaheim chili. As for the dining room, velvet-tufted booths and white tablecloths make it feel as though it was plucked straight from Paris, complete with French-inspired touches such as gilded mirrors, classical paintings, and a staff that sings "Frère Jacques" at the top of every hour.
The secret to Primo's ever-fresh Mediterranean dinners lies not in the kitchen, but beneath the patio. There, a terraced garden grows the vegetables and fruits that Chef Melissa Kelly?a two-time James Beard Award winner (2013 and 1999)?harvests for the day's menu. Its lush tiers mimic those found beside Italian villas, abounding with tomatoes and flavorful herbs. It's a living sign of the restaurant's devotion to organic, local foods, and what Chef Kelly doesn't source from its plants, she finds through other local purveyors: Sleeping Frog Farms, for example, or farming members of the Tohono O'dam Native American Nation.
The produce and meats from these places come together in dishes inspired by France, Spain, and Italy. Dinner plates mix tagliatelle pasta with bolognese, or pair seared diver scallops with Nueske bacon-peach compote. A brick oven also cooks Naples-style pizzas, decorated in toppings that are chosen by the chef instead of plucked at random from unattended colanders. Viewed through the dining-room windows or the patio's edge, the surrounding mountains and cacti immerse diners in the desert's natural beauty, while the lights of Tucson glimmer in the distance.
De La Cruz Bistro’s owner and executive chef, Brian Banasek, crafts contemporary American entrees with French and Italian influences punctuated by an international wine list and original martini list. A sandwich menu anchors lunch at the bistro, and a variety of pastas work in tandem with lamb and steak dishes to tether dinner so it doesn't float into breakfast. In a dining room supported by weathered pillars, exposed brick peaks through white and blue walls accented by ornate metal décor and white curtains that cascade from the ceiling.
Early-rising chefs whisk together a breakfast lover's menu, served amid chicken-themed décor in the burgundy dining room or alfresco on the outdoor patio. A Meggsican three-egg omelet ($8.50) adds international flair to morning meals, and the fluffy casing and lobster-rich core of the laguna beach omelet ($9.25) scrumptiously awakens tongues from nightmares about pronouncing five-syllable words. Diners can satisfy doughy hankerings by noshing on six varieties of pancake ($5.50–$6.95) or the quadrilateral impressions of a belgian waffle crowned with berries and cream, cinnamon apples, or bananas and walnuts ($6.95). Lemon-infused ground sirloin, cracked pepper, and mozzarella top the house burger's exclusive ingredients list ($9.50), and a spread of sandwiches ($6.95–$8.95) trounce four city blocks of hunger when lined up end to end.
As successful as he is today, it might be surprising to learn that restaurateur Alain Keller used to be a starving artist. The Swiss transplant struggled to get an acting career started in Paris, so he began to supplement his paltry income with serving jobs at iconic establishments such as Maxim’s and Laurent. He eventually came to New York to study musical theater, and found moderate success by landing roles in Cabaret and La Cage aux Folles. He continued to harbor a love for the restaurant industry, however, and partnered with his friend Anthony Ferré to open Le Chalet. According to the Phoenix New Times, Ferré started cooking as a teenager, and after his formal culinary education in Paris he went on to prepare meals for such elevated palates as the French prime minister and Swiss consuls. Naturally, the menu at Le Chalet is strongly influenced by French and Swiss tastes. Fondue is a favorite; the New Times adored the swiss-cheese version spiked with white wine, and said it was “irresistibly comforting—the kind of thing that you can’t stop eating even when reason tells you there’s more food on the way.” Like a French expatriate’s dreamscape, much of the menu is reserved for crepes—buckwheat flour goes into darker crepes stuffed with savory combinations such as scallops and leeks, and white flour is used for sweet crepes drizzled with chocolate ganache or salted caramel butter. The house specialty, however, is La Potence, a tower of beef tenderloin that’s flambéed tableside.
Tilapia crusted in walnuts, coconut, and sun-dried tomato. Mixed veggies drizzled with raw-honey strawberry tahini. Mac 'n' cheese. And it's all organic. Fontana D' Amore Organic Bistro delivers three meals a day to clients' doors, each of which uses natural ingredients tailored to raw, vegan, and gluten-free diets. The nutrient-dense menu has plenty of flexibility for clients to customize their meals. Gluten- and diary-free menus can be whipped up by tinkering with milk and sweetener options, which include raw honey, maple syrup, and gratuitous compliments. Owner Rino Soriano developed the innovative menu "because [he feels] it's important for people who desire fun, delicious and healthful food to have options," he told Arizona Central. The bistro's environmental vision doesn’t stop with organic cuisine, but permeates through to the business's core operations, down even to the natural cleaning products that keep its kitchen pristine. And as for all that cuisine, staff members pack each delectable meal in biodegradable paper and plastic products for takeout.