Local Flavor Edition in Phoenix, AZ
The outside of Roma Garden Ristorante, a Phoenix restaurant specializing in Northern Italian cuisine, is nondescript. Case in point: it’s next door to a Panda Express and a few doors down from a water mart. But don’t let the location fool you. Roma Garden might just be some of the best Italian food in Phoenix. The portions are generous, the ingredients are fresh, and the pasta is al dente – the way the food gods intended. It’s family-owned and operated, so expect to see the owner Vjeko Marcelic and his daughter, Jelena, running around serving tables, clearing plates and welcoming guests.
Personally, we just love saying “Chef Aurore de Beauduy.” She’s the beauty and brains behind this contemporary American bistro who studied under French culinary greats like Alain Sanderens and Michel Guerard before moving on to serve as chef at the Chicago Four Seasons Hotel. In 2008, she and her husband opened Vogue Bistro in Marley Park where she still employs her classical French training to create traditional dishes like duck confit and rabbit stew. For starters, there’s Foie Gras, Oysters Rockefeller, soft-shell crab and more. Side dishes – labeled “Accessories” on the tongue-in-cheek menu – include vanilla butternut squash, plantains, and Chef Aurore’s quiche of the day.
Kampai may just have the most authentic Japanese food and sushi you’ll find in landlocked Arizona. It’s the traditional experience where you should plan on sitting at the counter, ordering directly from the chef, and spending a good amount of time enjoying the experience. After all, the Japanese know you should never rush a meal. At Kampai, spicy tuna comes served in generous chunks – not globs – over a hot crab mixture so if you’re looking for over-the-top and over-priced rolls, look elsewhere. If sushi isn’t your thing, try the Chicken Katsu or Tempura Soba, which comes with a mouthwatering broth for dipping.
Photo courtesy of thinkDraw on Flickr, sourced from Wikimedia Commons
One of the main attractions of del Piero is its location at the base of the San Tan Mountains in Queen Creek, one of the few remaining farm communities in Greater Phoenix. The Tuscan-inspired eatery features only local and organic products, and many of its menu items were created from owner Perry Rea’s personal cravings. Even salads are a tasty adventure at del Piero with items like the Citrus Caprese and the Spring Mix with fruity balsamic dressing. We love del Piero because it adheres to the “sharing is caring” philosophy – just visit the website for recipes on all menu items.
What is a paleta, you ask? Why, it’s a delicious handmade Mexican treat, of course! An ice pop, to be exact, and the ones at Paletas Betty in downtown Chandler are especially delicious because they don’t use any canned or frozen fruits, or artificial preservatives and coloring. All spices are ground fresh from whole pieces and everything is made entirely from scratch. Try the San Valentin (strawberry covered in dark chocolate) or the Mango con Chile with its taste bud-pleasing combination of sweet mango and handmade chile powder. It’s a seasonal menu, too, so flavors change periodically.