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.
San Giorgi's Coffee's commitment to the earth extends beyond the sustainably grown coffees and teas that line its shelves; the café’s wooden coffee bar and rustic decorations pay subtle tribute to the fertile soils in which beverages began. Each bean and leaf that passes into the café’s mugs is certified organic, and the majority of products also pass stringent fair-trade guidelines. Frozen drinks and smoothies cool off tongues after heated exchanges with rival prime ministers, and paninis are grilled in a press until they are as flat as the tablet PCs soaking up the café’s free wireless Internet.
When diners order a burger at Opa!, they?re liable to be confused. There?s the bun, the tomato, the lettuce?and no meat in sight. Right before befuddled diners can flag down their server, a grinning Chef Andreas emerges from the kitchen with their meat, sets it aflame souvlaki-style at the table, and drapes the sizzling disk atop the diner?s bare bun. ?I like to make people happy. It?s what I do,? explains Andreas, who jumps at any opportunity to surprise and delight guests in his dining room. His commitment to creating a welcoming atmosphere has earned the chef praise from Tucson Weekly, as well a spot on Tucson Lifestyle ?s Best of 2011 restaurant list.
Though the prolific restaurateur has opened 74 eateries across the country, he eventually wearied of the anonymity in running more corporate establishments. Now, Chef Andreas shares his heritage instead?murals of the island of Santorini grace restaurant walls, Greek music flows through the dining room all day, and family recipes inspire the flame-kissed spiced meats that seem to pour out of the kitchen like a faucet with a water vendetta. Though Greek traditions are evident in his food, Chef Andreas also tunes in to customer requests, now preparing many gluten-free and low-carb platters to honor the wishes of his guests.
Tom and Kenny Lam's recipe for delectable banh mi—Vietnamese sandwiches on a baguette—is a matter of public record. The Arizona Daily Star sought out the father-and-son team to publish their techniques, guiding readers through prepping the bread, pickling the vegetables, and marinating the pork. The instructions stem from the kitchens of iLuv Pho, the restaurant owned by Tom and managed by Kenny, where their variations of banh mi comprise a popular lunchtime segment of the menu.
The sandwiches have been labeled "out of sight" by Tucson Weekly, though they only cover a small subheading of the Lams' authentic Vietnamese plates. Also on the list are hearty bowls of pho, dappled with rice noodles, beef, and seasonings. Curries and stir-fries imbue entrees with fiery aftertastes, combated by the cool sips of slushes in flavors such as mango, red bean, and coconut. Chewy balls of tapioca—or boba—hide inside the frosty drinks, waiting to be slurped through straws or launched into a free-for-all game of marbles.
El Parador's modern glass façade proves somewhat deceiving; upon entering the restaurant, guests are transported to a provincial Mexican town where tropical foliage casts shadows on walls of rustic adobe. The name—which loosely translates to a place of luxury and warm hospitality—suits this interior as well as it suits an outdoor patio accessible through elegant french doors. If they can pry their eyes away from the scenery, guests can explore a menu that encapsulates the vibrant flavors of traditional Mexican cuisine, from the fried tortilla shells of chimichangas to the rice and flavors of homemade chile relleno. As chefs skillfully fill and furl tortillas, bartenders mix tangy margaritas and mojitos to heighten each dish's robust flavors.
El Parador also has five themed rooms - including a fireplace room and the south atrium with room for up to 130 - available to rent free of charge and with room for up to for parties, family gatherings, breakfast meetings, and escaped zoo animal reunions.