An elegant chandelier sparkles above Amaro Italiano Ristorante open kitchen, but it?s rarely the first thing that guests notice. They are too engrossed by Pizza Chef's delicate dance as he flings discs of pizza dough high into the air, careful not to get them caught in the chandelier?s net of crystal beads. The culinary team pull their own mozzarella and top their Neapolitan pizzas with such creative ingredients as shoestring onions, oven-roasted artichoke hearts, and shaved ham. Pizza is hardly their only specialty, however. Their dishes run the gamut from house-made pastas to a bone-in pork chop with a Dijon and mustard glaze. 70 wines complement the complex Italian flavors, as do the artworks on the dining room?s walls and live musicians who have strung their guitars with resonant spaghetti al dente.
As they stroll along the green, undulating grounds of the Marriott's Wildfire Golf Club, guests watch as a fire pit slowly comes into view. White sand golf hazards slope along the grassy surface, and rows of palm trees sway. Then, they arrive at their destination: Meritage Steakhouse. Inside, spotted cowhides cover chairs beneath cream-and-burgundy ceilings high enough to allow room for a black-tie food fight. Expansive windows complement meals with natural sunlight and landscape views.
All of this is the setting for the restaurant's main draw: steaks. Filet or porterhouse, dressed with b?arnaise or white truffle butter, paired with lobster tail or scallops, the steaks are filled with a soft textured tenderness that only comes from using the best aged, marbled cuts. Meritage operates on an organic, sustainable philosophy, and partners with a largely local community of farmers, fisheries, and artisans. All of the steaks hail from just two ranches?one in California and one in Colorado?that pride themselves on their cattle's vegetarian diets.
From the patio, twenty6 lounge guests take in an expansive view of the McDowell Mountains as they sip their signature cocktails. Savoring cheese plucked off the charcuterie plates, or spooning sweet dollops of gelato, visitors are encouraged to calm their minds and exist in the moment. In the words of its staffers, the lounge "has perfected the art of unwinding." Live music on Friday and Saturday nights make the task of unwinding as easy as retaking first grade after you've earned your PhD.
Though he worked as a chef in Europe and on the East Coast, Cafe at Desert Ridge owner Mario Kuja embraced the flavors and flair of Southwestern cuisine upon moving to Arizona. Guided by his 22 years of culinary experience, he infuses many of his dishes with classic Southwestern spices, including the Sonoran burrito and the Southwest chicken salad. However, like a rare pottery collector or a mom who's obsessed with cleaning everything in the world, he doesn't neglect American and European dishes. Mario prepares these in the form of burgers, Mediterranean paninis, and meatball pappardelle.
There's nothing humble about Humble Pie's pizza crust: Pulled from wood-fired ovens with a light, bubbly texture that crisps at lightly charred edges, it cracks to release a subtle aroma of smoke and yeast. For owner Tom Kaufman, the recipe demanded two months of tinkering and one month of building an underground vault to keep it from prying eyes. Customers tend to think the time was worth it as they bite into delicate slices topped with careful combinations of veggies, meats and cheeses, often locally sourced.
The potato-and-roasted-garlic pizza, for example, happily marries the fragrances of gorgonzola and rosemary. Retaining a botanical touch even on a meat-lover's pie, the Schreiners Sicilian Sausage sprinkles homemade mozzarella with "sprigs of roasted fennel [that] add another aromatic dimension," according to Phoenix New Times.
While the pizza may push some of the other menu items out of the limelight, fresh salads, grilled sandwiches, and traditional and twisted pastas earnestly pine for appetites' affections. The Our Way" Mac & Cheese adds aged white cheddar, italian bacon, and bread crumbs, distinguishing itself from its boxed brethren while forming an equally fun medium for kids' art projects, while wine, beer, and seasonal cocktails pair well with plates and pies alike.
At The Best Ever Subs & More, a Thanksgiving meal isn’t an annual feast. Instead, it’s a sandwich served daily, in the form of a french roll stuffed with oven-roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and crispy onions. Nestled inside Danny’s Gourmet Market, the shop’s entire array of subs—from the Thanksgiving variety to a chicken, brie, and apple sandwich—come filled with the market’s artisanal meats and cheeses, which also top personal pizzas toasted golden brown in a brick oven. The signature gourmet sauce anoints pizzas and sandwiches alike and is dubbed the “best sauce ever” for its carefully balanced blend of garlic and herbs, rather than because the food it touches turns into money. The shop also bakes signature butter cookies, and a portion of its proceeds benefits the Lost Angels Foundation of Hope.