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.
With pages full of flavors traditional to Mexico City, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, and Cozumel, the menu at Haciendas Mexican Grill is like an atlas of Mexican cuisine. Guests can taste the classic Mayan influence on the nation’s dishes with the cochinita pibil, a cut of pork that slowly marinates in a stew of achiote, orange juice, and banana leaves, or revel in the country's knack for sauces with the dark-brown dressing of the pollo con mole. The chefs also take slight liberties with the dishes, infusing the chocolate fondue with ancho chiles and transforming the humble hamburger with oaxaca cheese and chipotle mayo. To honor Mexico's extensive coastlines, the chefs drench jumbo prawns, stuffed salmon filets, and lobster ravioli in spicy cream sauces.
Outside the dining room, guests can experience Mexican culture with specialty margaritas, tap and bottled beers, and other libations in the restaurant’s three bars. Like an interstellar pub crawl, each bar features a different atmosphere: one sports a scenic view of the mountains, another buzzes with a row of LED TVs, and an outside patio grants fresh air and warm sun ideal for a round of icy beverages.
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.
The same love for pizza and beer that fueled three college students in 1974 transformed their lives as they expanded their business from one rundown building in Atlanta to 100 Mellow Mushroom restaurants across 15 states today. Each eatery owes its individual style to each location's being locally owned and operated, much like impressionist painters owed their individual style to their number of ears. In the kitchens, grilled and deli-style hoagies are assembled and calzones and pizzas baked in stone hearths using dough made with natural spring water. Though many of the restaurant's dishes have remained on the menu since its inception, the culinary crew frequently devises new, often gluten-free, dishes to keep senior-ranking pepperonis from becoming too powerful. Servers pair dishes with their location's own set of local brews, which fit into a collection of up to 100 microbrewed and imported beers on tap and in bottles. Brewers such as Bell's, Abita, and Dogfish Head are also featured in regular beer events.
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.
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.