Chef Kierstin Mor grew up just a half-hour away from Napa Valley, a growing region that has a lot in common with the French countryside. That's especially fitting considering Kierstin first learned how to cook by watching local public television shows, igniting a passion that wouldn't be fully realized until a career in technology led her to Paris. It was there, in the gourmet supermarkets of Europe that she decided to make the professional leap into the culinary sphere. She soon enrolled in the famed Ecole Ferrandi school and wasted no time learning the essentials of French cooking. While in Paris, she also discovered a second love––her husband, chef Snir Mor. The two bonded over their ferver for gourmet food, and when they moved to Surprise in 2004, they took it upon themselves to share this infatuation with their new neighbors. Before long, Amuse Bouche was born. It’s not exactly easy to recreate Paris in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, but the Mors have captured the French capital’s je ne sais quoi with some help from executive chef Matt Ochs. Together, the trio has crafted a menu that spotlights French staples like braised short ribs, chicken liver pâté, and chocolate pots de creme. The bistro itself would feel right at home tucked away in an alley of the Latin Quarter, thanks to its romantic ambience and cozy-but-not-cramped dining room. And because no French meal would be complete without a glass of wine, the restaurant employs a BYOB policy, allowing guests to pair their seasonal dishes with a favorite bottle or pre-filled drinking horn.
Tucked away in the historic Heard Building in downtown Phoenix, this family-owned café is a casual, order-at-the-counter operation catering primarily to area office professionals. That means Focaccia Fiorentina is only open for weekday breakfast and lunch, but still does brisk business at its indoor and patio tables. The fun, simple space also offers takeaway options and delivery, but don’t confuse Focaccia with fast food – pizzas and calzones are made to order with hand stretched dough, mozzarella is handcrafted and desserts are made on-site. Recipes are thoughtful as well, like a penne in delicate pink vodka tomato sauce; hearty focaccia sandwiches, including a combo of imported prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, basil and extra virgin olive oil; or a Greek pizza, draped in pesto sauce, mozzarella, feta, artichokes, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives.
When Toy Town Playcenter’s architects planned their air-conditioned, 2,000-square-foot town, they considered the interests of both parents and children. While tykes pedal down mock city streets and lament the price of milk at the miniature grocery store, parents can cruise free Wi-Fi and sip coffee from the snack bar. City planners also prize sanitation, enforcing a socks-only policy and scrubbing down all surfaces multiple times daily.
Crème de la Crème provides a fun night of culinary education that sheds boring PowerPoint presentations on allumette and julienne cuts in favor of hands-on learning. An experienced and enthusiastic cook, Crème de la Crème helmswoman Hannah sharpened her culinary cunning by cooking in her grandmother's kitchen at an early age and later as a personal chef. At a Crème de la Crème class, students can mingle and socialize with fellow foodies while learning how to cook dishes with the dexterity of an eight-armed samurai. They’ll also get to taste their creations and take home the products to impress friends, family, and visiting satellite-dish installers. Classes are available in several topics, such as crêpes, heart healthy, eco-friendly, and brinner (breakfast for dinner).
After Meatballz's inviting, family-friendly atmosphere welcomes visitors like a cushy mozzarella mattress in a sea of marinara sauce, patrons can fork-dive into a steamy, family-style meal that feeds either four family members, two voracious people (leaving plenty of leftovers), or one hulking minotaur-man. The meal includes garden salad, garlic knot rolls, dessert (cannolis, brownies, or crème-stuffed brownies), and an entree. For the entree, customers can choose from several delectable specialties, including saucy spaghetti or penne with meatballs, chicken, eggplant or sausage, stuffed shells, cheese and spinach rigatoni, or manicotti that will strike fear in the belly of any appetite.