The cooks at GiGi's Cafe call their cuisine soul food––and that's true if your soul happens to crave tender beef or pork ribs slathered in housemade hot or mild barbecue sauce, fresh-baked desserts like sweet potato pie, or Broaster chicken, a less greasy alternative to fried chicken. Of course, it's hard to imagine any entity––celestial or otherwise––turning down succulent pulled pork or chicken or neatly cut squares of baked mac & cheese or fresh-cooked corn on the cob. When it comes to universal crowd pleasers, though, the real winner might be GiGi's impressive triple-decker chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting, a slice of which makes an especially fitting ending to a decadent meal or a bad first date with a personal trainer.
When it comes to sports at Max & Ted's 480 Bar, patrons have a choice?watch or play. Myriad flat-screen TVs take care of the former, and several pool tables invite players to rack up games or hop into one of the bar's weekly tournaments. Over the weekend, attention shifts from corner pockets to the main stage, where karaoke participants sing along to their favorite tunes or famous filibusters. Amid all these entertainments, bartenders pour a steady stream of well drinks, as well as domestic and draft beers. Each libation complements Max & Ted's concise menu of classic bar snacks, such as deep-fried zucchini and beef taquitos.
Michael Merendino grew up hearing stories about his family history. Sitting in his father's pizzeria, he learned how the Merendinos left Sicily for Long Island in the 1900s, and about the bits of Old World culture that they brought along with them. One such touchstone was the rustica: a small, pizza-like creation traditionally made with unused pieces of bread dough. Michael brought the rustica with him when he moved from the East Coast to the East Valley, making it the star of his menus at Crust Restaurants.
Crust's hand-stretched rusticas arrive topped with everything from marinated tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to arugula and prosciutto, and are sized for individual diners. To help feed larger groups, the chefs also bake 20-inch, thin-crust pies as well as square pizzas ideal for diners on a strict Euclidean diet. Hearty entrées such as homemade meatball parmigiana, chicken marsala, and shrimp scampi, round out the menu of comforting Italian-American favorites.
The Gelato Spot’s frozen-dairy hotshots merge ingredients imported from Torino, Italy, and churn a bevy of creamy gelati and sorbets daily. The gelateria’s small tongue-chilling batches have earned the shop the title of Best Frozen-Yogurt/Ice Cream Spot in AZ Central's 2011 readers’ poll, which praises the eatery’s extravagant displays and cheerful staff. Though The Gelato Spot specializes in traditional Italian flavors, such as stracciatella and amarena, they also craft American renditions such as Snickers, new york cheesecake, and salted caramel. As diners shovel in glacial delights on The Gelato Spot's heated and misted patio, they can also cruise the web with complimentary WiFi.