Donna DiFiore's metaphorical journey into the restaurant business began with an actual journey. When her friend Elissa told her she was going on a road trip across the country from her hometown in chilly Massachusetts, Donna agreed to join—unaware that she was about discover her life's calling and a new home.
When the women stopped in Tucson, Donna didn't want to leave. As she explained to reporters from Tucson Weekly, "I arrived here—it was Halloween Eve in '76—and everybody was wearing shorts, and it was just gorgeous." Donna took a job at a local eatery, working the floor, serving customers, and eventually rising to the head of the restaurant.
Thirty-eight years later, Donna continues to captain Delectables, which has become a bit of an iconic gathering spot for old and young alike. Returning visitors linger over glasses of wine at the rustic wooden bar, reminiscing over the crème brûlée and live jazz they enjoyed from that very same spot years ago. University students bask beneath the lush foliage of the outdoor patio, awaiting meals of Mexican enchiladas, Italian pastas, and French bistro specialties. Chefs bustle about the kitchen seven days a week, beginning each day by whipping up hearty egg breakfasts before moving onto internationally inspired lunches and dinners. Late in the night on Friday and Saturday, they simmer up an after-dark menu of eclectic nibbles and entrees.
The restaurant is housed in a historical, renovated Harley-Davidson showroom and abounds with unusual knickknacks and antiques, from a cash register from an old hotel in Santa Cruz to a walk-in refrigerator from 1898. Many of the wares and coffee mugs were created by local artists, and the mesquite planks that serve as plates were carved by local craftsmen. The airy space plays hosts to special events throughout the week, including live music from local artists, poetry slams with local poets, and boxing matches between local librarians.
Surrounded by vistas of the rising foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains, the only view more impressive at Anthony’s in the Catalinas than the one from the window is its trophy wall. Among its accolades, Anthony’s counts the Award of Excellence from DiRoNA—the Distinguished Restaurants of North America—and the AAA Four Diamond Award. The restaurant has its chefs to thank for these awards, who tirelessly craft hand-made sausages, slice tender beef medallions, and roast duckling until its buttery and crispy. A pair of experienced sommeliers cultivate a collection of more than 1,700 wines from around the world, a feat which garnered the restaurant the Grand Award from Wine Spectator. The fine beverages reside in the restaurant's underground cellar, which customers can tour if they say one of the magic words “please” or “shazam.”
The Empire Pizza & Pub staff assembles a mix and match of 23 ingredients?including barbecue sauce and genoa salami?atop 13 New York-style pizzas. Their efforts helped earn the eatery a Best Pizza nod in 2011 by Metromix. They name their specialty pies after notable places in New York, such as Soho?s white pizza with tomatoes, basil, and parmesan and the Jackson Heights slathered in barbecue sauce and sprinkled with chicken, green pepper, and onion. By preparing the pies, subs, and salads for carry-out, delivery, or serving them at the restaurant as late as 3 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday (11 p.m. other days) and as early as 835 B.C.E., the staff accommodates diners of many tastes and schedules.
The arena in which the team?s servers operate features exposed-brick walls lining the narrow layout. A bar at the back pairs libations with pizzas, while vintage lights illuminate the copper ceiling.
Dough spins and jumps off chefs' fingertips before being topped with tomato sauce and fresh basil to become margherita pizzas or accumulating salami, black olives, and tomatoes to become a meaty Siciliana pie. Italian-born chef Lorenzo Iacopelli curates a menu of classic pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches, all served in a casual dining room with Italian memorabilia and checkered tablecloths.
The quick-handed dough doyens at Blackjack Pizza build a menu of high-quality pies made with fresh, natural ingredients. Large 14-inch hand-tossed crusts come free of high-fructose corn syrup and are made instead with soybean oil, which contains neither cholesterol nor villainous trans fat. The marinara sauce sings with a choir of fresh-packed tomatoes. Select a pair of toppings from the rainbow of chopped veggies, such as red onion, green chilies, and indigo olives, or elect to decorate with natural meaty morsels, such as pepperoni, ham, or common domestic fowl. An order of mozzarella-topped CheeseBread accompanies this handsome pizza pie, as does a two-liter bottle of soda for toasting whoever went to pick it up.
For decades, the dedicated pizza purveyors behind Magpies have woven together appealing pies that burst at their dough-seams with ingredients made fresh on-site every day. The expansive menu presents an appetizing array of options. Specialty pies—such as the Godfather, which manages a tightly knit family of mozzarella, swiss, cheddar, and romano cheeses and a meaty gang of Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, and capicola ($2.99 slice, $14.99 12", $17.99 14", and $20.99 16")—carry out quick, efficient digestive hits. Culinary constructioneers, meanwhile, can design their own doughy disc ($2.99 per slice, $10.99 12", $12.99 14", $14.99 16"). Starting with a foundation of New York–style regular, wheat, or crispy-sourdough crust, add a decorative daub of fresh sauce such as house red, tomato pesto, or barbecue sauce. From there, add on cheeses, veggies, and meats (extra ingredients cost $0.50 per slice, $1.49 each for 12", $1.79 each for 14", and $1.99 each for 16")—or indulge your mad scientist by piling together anchovies, fresh cilantro, pineapple, piñon nuts, and feta cheese and then bringing it to life during an electrical storm.