The chefs at Amarsi Ristorante handcraft every sauce on the menu, from the lemon-white-wine sauce that adds brightness to veal piccata to the classic marinara that preps meatballs to be shot through a cannon. The from-scratch condiments contribute to the traditional menu?s appeal, which was summed up in Tucson Weekly when the restaurant was described as ?one of those places where I wish the company would spring for more than just two visits.? Servers?all of whom boast at least 20 years of industry experience?are happy to recommend pairings from Amarsi Ristorante?s ample wine list. As diners sup, their eyes can wander from crisp white tablecloths topped with fresh flowers and candles to views of the mountains outside.
At J. Marinara's, chefs create Old World dishes that showcase East Coast Italian ingredients such as aromatic garlic and sweet tomatoes. Dining posses grab a seat by the fireplace or sip on a selection from the full bar at J. Marinara's outdoor dining area. If a single plate of pasta ignites a newfound culinary fixation, ask a server about take-home bottles of their housemade sauce, available for purchase and a flavorful complement to any bare linguine or minimalist wall hanging.
Donna DiFiore's metaphorical journey into the restaurant business began with an actual journey. When her friend Elissa told her she was going on a road trip across the country from her hometown in chilly Massachusetts, Donna agreed to join—unaware that she was about discover her life's calling and a new home.
When the women stopped in Tucson, Donna didn't want to leave. As she explained to reporters from Tucson Weekly, "I arrived here—it was Halloween Eve in '76—and everybody was wearing shorts, and it was just gorgeous." Donna took a job at a local eatery, working the floor, serving customers, and eventually rising to the head of the restaurant.
Thirty-eight years later, Donna continues to captain Delectables, which has become a bit of an iconic gathering spot for old and young alike. Returning visitors linger over glasses of wine at the rustic wooden bar, reminiscing over the crème brûlée and live jazz they enjoyed from that very same spot years ago. University students bask beneath the lush foliage of the outdoor patio, awaiting meals of Mexican enchiladas, Italian pastas, and French bistro specialties. Chefs bustle about the kitchen seven days a week, beginning each day by whipping up hearty egg breakfasts before moving onto internationally inspired lunches and dinners. Late in the night on Friday and Saturday, they simmer up an after-dark menu of eclectic nibbles and entrees.
The restaurant is housed in a historical, renovated Harley-Davidson showroom and abounds with unusual knickknacks and antiques, from a cash register from an old hotel in Santa Cruz to a walk-in refrigerator from 1898. Many of the wares and coffee mugs were created by local artists, and the mesquite planks that serve as plates were carved by local craftsmen. The airy space plays hosts to special events throughout the week, including live music from local artists, poetry slams with local poets, and boxing matches between local librarians.
Surrounded by vistas of the rising foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the only view more impressive at Anthony’s in the Catalinas than the one from the window is its trophy wall. Among its accolades, Anthony’s counts the Award of Excellence from DiRoNA—the Distinguished Restaurants of North America—and the AAA Four Diamond Award. The restaurant has its chefs to thank for these awards, who tirelessly craft hand-made sausages, slice tender beef medallions, and roast duckling until its buttery and crispy. A pair of experienced sommeliers cultivate a collection of more than 1,700 wines from around the world, a feat which garnered the restaurant the Grand Award from Wine Spectator. The fine beverages reside in the restaurant's underground cellar, which customers can tour if they say one of the magic words “please” or “shazam.”
The Empire Pizza & Pub staff assembles a mix and match of 23 ingredients?including barbecue sauce and genoa salami?atop 13 New York-style pizzas. Their efforts helped earn the eatery a Best Pizza nod in 2011 by Metromix. They name their specialty pies after notable places in New York, such as Soho?s white pizza with tomatoes, basil, and parmesan and the Jackson Heights slathered in barbecue sauce and sprinkled with chicken, green pepper, and onion. By preparing the pies, subs, and salads for carry-out, delivery, or serving them at the restaurant as late as 3 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday (11 p.m. other days) and as early as 835 B.C.E., the staff accommodates diners of many tastes and schedules.
The arena in which the team?s servers operate features exposed-brick walls lining the narrow layout. A bar at the back pairs libations with pizzas, while vintage lights illuminate the copper ceiling.
Dough spins and jumps off chefs' fingertips before being topped with tomato sauce and fresh basil to become margherita pizzas or accumulating salami, black olives, and tomatoes to become a meaty Siciliana pie. Italian-born chef Lorenzo Iacopelli curates a menu of classic pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches, all served in a casual dining room with Italian memorabilia and checkered tablecloths.