On Rare Earth Pizza and Wine Bar's outdoor patio, servers transport hand-tossed pizzas and glasses of wine in the flickering glow of outdoor fire bowls. Conversation buzzes as guests take in views of technicolor sunsets and the surrounding landscape of Pinnacle Peak. Inside, they can sidle up to the tall wooden bar to take a look at hand-chalked specials, or gather around tables to take turns singing lists of gourmet ingredients from the menu.
Painted Horse's boyish chef and owner, Bryan Elliott, serves up a casual dinner menu that still manages to project a classy sophistication. Feast eyes on the café's views of the sun setting over the Sonoran Desert while other body parts do the same to an appetizer of pork tenderloin sliders with caramelized onion and horseradish cream ($8). Higher-magnitude hungers will require the raspberry-chipotle baby back ribs with fries and Asian slaw ($26), which can find a leggy dance partner among Painted Horse's red and white wines. Spaghetti-western fans, meanwhile, can dine on western spaghetti with the TPH pasta—grilled chicken breast, peppers, and onions in a chipotle citrus cream ($20). A dessert, such as a chocolate and English-toffee brownie ($8) or half-baked chocolate-chip cookie ($8) gives your meal a far sweeter finish than its originally scripted ending, where you find the Statue of Liberty half-buried in the sand.
Rosati's Pizza literally began with one man. When he started his first restaurant in Chicago as an Italian immigrant more than a century ago, Ferdinand Rosati worked as the cook, waiter, dishwasher, and host. Despite the hectic schedule, the passionate restaurateur still found time to prepare each guest his signature pizza a'olia, a soul-warming blend of cheese and housemade sauce served on a crispy thin crust. From that cracker-thin foundation, Rosati's has grown to incorporate slabs of baby back ribs, baked pastas, and Italian sandwiches to its menu at locations across the country. A family-friendly establishment, Rosati's mixes cocktails for adults from a full-service bar as kids play games and puzzles designed to distract them from the rounds of pizza frisbee.
Successfully polishing off one of Blu Burger's signature creations isn't always an easy feat. Described as "delightfully messy" by Metromix Phoenix, the meaty towers and onion buns teeter under the weight of generous portions of applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and melted cheeses dripping with housemade sauces. Though some diners try to tackle the five signature selections, others extend their culinary creativity to design their own burgers, choosing from an eclectic variety of bases—including Black Angus or Kobe beef, bison, and portobello mushrooms. Customers further customize patties with their choices of buns, cheeses, specialty toppings, and more than 10 types of sauces, which join the selection of 12 craft beers on tap.
In the bustling dining room, tinted windows cast a blue hue on funky artwork and colorful hanging lights. Outside, blue umbrellas speckle the courtyard, protecting diners from both the elements and the notice of paragliding Hamburglars.
Al Hamra connects Eastern and Western traditions by pairing eight signature cocktails with aromatic Indian and Pakistani cuisine. The restaurant takes its name from a Spanish palace and, like the royal court that once dwelled within it, puts an emphasis on entertainment. Live music permeates the space as the wait staff ferries about tandoori entrees and classic chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegetable curries. At the bar, glowing, backlit shelving illuminates both the colorful libations and the decorative drapes and artwork that adorn the walls.
Chefs at Nick’s Italian Restaurant’s three locations craft homemade pizzas and pastas that earned the eateries a nod in Scottsdale Airpark magazine. Providing both family-friendly and upscale dining environments, Nick’s draws in customers thanks to its gluten-free pasta and pizza options, its homemade tiramisu, and the fact that a bite of the restaurant's brick-oven-baked pizzas will give the power of speech to any dog or horse. Italian wines and daily sangria at the Phoenix location pair with popular dishes such as the margherita pizza and veal ossobuco.