Where should we go for Arizona Restaurant Week?

Where should we go for Arizona Restaurant Week?
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Where should we go for Arizona Restaurant Week?

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This question inevitably starts being asked everywhere in Arizona around 2-3 weeks before the biannual weeklong food celebration. There are innumerable quality choices in Phoenix, Scottsdale and beyond. Despite being an extended “week” – September 16-25 in this instance – it would be impossible to visit every restaurant participating this time around. Unless you’re Barney Stinson, and you just said, “challenge… accepted”, in which case: good luck, have at it and come see me (and your gastroenterologist) September 26.

Executive Chefs throughout Arizona spend hours creating and fine-tuning the menus for Restaurant Week. Many of their guests are first-timers, and they want to make an impression. You probably won’t make a wrong choice during “ARW,” but you can make some wonderful choices and possibly find a new favorite restaurant to add to your rotation. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Scottsdale and Phoenix participating in Arizona Restaurant Week for Fall 2016.

ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho

This is what Arizona Restaurant Week is meant to be. Nestled inside the Valley Ho in Scottsdale and takes inspiration from its legendary decor and vibe. Zuzu is a perfect example of a Chef – in this case, award-winning Executive Chef Charles Wiley – throwing the gauntlet down to give diners a limited-time deal that is almost too good to be true. Check out our ZuZu Video Review

Cuisine: American Comfort Food

How much: $33/person

First Course (Choose one):
Roasted Acorn Squash Soup – house-made marshmallows + candied pecans
Buffalo Mozzarella – baby arugula, heirloom tomatoes, shaved red onions, grilled Levain bread, balsamic reduction + basil vinaigrette
Seared Trumpet Royal Mushroom – butternut squash risotto + crisp brussel sprouts
Seared Wagyu Beef with truffle and yuzu mignonette, shaved parmesan + radish salad

Second Course (Choose one):
Ora King Salmon – steamed jasmine rice, fennel, bok choy, shiso + tomato lemongrass broth
Mustard Crusted NY Strip – truffle mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, lemon + mushroom demi glaze
Shrimp Pappardelle – pancetta, zucchini + black pepper pecorino romano cream
Seared Maple Leaf Duck Breast – sweet potato hash, brussel sprouts + cherry demi

Dessert (Choose one):
Decadent Chocolate Torte with Caramel + Bavarian cream
Goat Cheesecake with chipotle-infused blueberry compote

Spiga Cucina

It is worth the trip. There are some hidden gems well north of the 101 in Scottsdale, and one of them is Spiga Cucina on Pinnacle Peak Road. A beautiful wine room and sensational views from the patio aren’t the only reasons for the journey – the food is authentic Italian, done right. For Restaurant Week, they have put together an incredible selection that would still be a good value at the $44/person price point, but it appears Spiga wanted to give its guests a unique treat.

Cuisine: Italian

How much: $33/person

First Course (Choose one):
Potato Gnocchi in a house bolognese tossed in 24-month aged Parmigiano Reggiano wheel
Tuna Carpaccio – fennel, haricot vert, radish, fennel, citrus mint
Insalata di Mercato – chopped kale, mixed greens, onions, asparagus, heirloom baby tomatoes, roasted sweet corn, roasted red pepper and herbed vinaigrette topped with toasted pine nuts
Clam chowder soup

Second Course (Choose one):
Grilled Duroc 14oz bone-in pork chop – roasted garlic mashed potatoes, haricot vert, heirloom
carrots with a mushroom Marsala sauce
Pan Roasted Rack of Lamb encrusted in porcini mushroom herbs – creamy truffle polenta and brussel sprouts with smoked bacon and Saba drizzle
White Seabass – pan-seared served over a sweet pea risotto, oven-roasted Roma tomatoes, rapini and a sweet roasted corn nage
Spiga Lasagna – Layered with spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, sausage, veal and pork and finished with house sugo

Dessert (Choose one):
Mango Crème Brûlée – classic vanilla bean crème brûlée served with mango sorbet
Panna Cotta – sweetened cream with gelatin and vanilla, served with mixed berry compote

The Herb Box

Wherever you are in Scottsdale, you’re never too far from The Herb Box. That’s because there are two locations on opposite ends of the city. The original, located on the Waterfront in Old Town, and their second location in DC Ranch on Market Street. A third Herb Box recently opened in Phoenix at The Colony, covering, even more, ground. As of this writing, that location is not participating in Arizona Restaurant Week. Check it out, but don’t go expecting the “ARW” deal.

Do you want to be like the Three Generic Guys from ScottsdaleRestaurants.com? Of COURSE, you do. They’re the coolest! Well, here’s your chance. Last year, ScottsdaleRestaurants.com visited The Herb Box with special guest Joanie Simon for a video review. Two of the dishes featured were the Thai BBQ Baby Back Ribs and the Butternut Squash Enchiladas. Guess what two of the entree options for Restaurant Week are? Good guess. They loved those entrees and so will you.

Cuisine: Contemporary American

How much: $44/person

First Course (choose one):
Avocado Love – avocado-lime smear on whole-grain toasts, organic arugula, fennel, lemon-honey vinaigrette, sweet-hot serrano glaze
Kale, Corn and Sweet Onion Pakora – sweet-hot serrano glaze, vegan yellow pepper aioli

Second Course (choose one):
Urban Steak Salad – grilled beef tenderloin, ancho-bourbon demi watercress, avocado, sweet red pepper, bacon-sugared pecan, sweet dried corn, gorgonzola balsamic vinaigrette
Butternut Squash Enchiladas – kale ensalada mixta, organic arugula, avocado-edamame, sweet dried corn, pickled red onion candied pepitas, queso
Thai BBQ Baby Back Ribs + Apple Slaw – jicama & watercress, smoked gouda mac-n-cheese

Dessert: Chef’s Dessert of the Moment

Different Pointe of View

When the opportunity to dine at the restaurant People Magazine named as the number one restaurant view in the country arises, take it. When can you have three courses for only $44/person? Now you have no excuse because the food lives up to the high standards set by the view. One additional bonus – for the dessert course, you can choose any dessert from their menu.

Cuisine: American

How much: $44/person

First Course (choose one):
Chef’s Fresh Hummus of the Day served with grilled flatbread
Shrimp Ravioli – basil pesto, summer greens, garlic chips, sweet corn reduction
Lobster Bisque – chive creme fraiche
Chopped Romaine Salad – grilled broccolini, sharp provolone, spicy capicola, baby tomatoes, roasted sweet garlic vinaigrette

Second Course (choose one):
Coriander Crusted Pork Tenderloin – Lebanese couscous with piquillo pepper pesto, saffron puree, sauteed asparagus, fig & sherry reduction
Seared Stone Fish – scallion-scented bamboo rice with beech mushrooms, cipollini onions, laughing bird shrimp, grilled scallion emulsion, lobster soy mushroom broth
Tomato-Infused Grilled Bistro Steak – garlic-parmesan potatoes, sauteed greens, rapini, charred shallots, summer truffle reduction
Chef’s Daily Feature also available

Dessert: Choose any dessert off the menu

New York’s Best Italian Bistro

It takes considerable “chutzpah” to call yourself “New York’s Best…” anything, really. (Insert joke here about a certain orange-tinted Presidential candidate from New York.) But when your guests tell you day after day that you’re the best, you’re allowed a little grandiosity. New York’s Best Italian Bistro has been serving Scottsdale for over 20 years. They mix some old-world recipes with East Coast favorites. I will give one specific recommendation from the Restaurant Week options – Pork Shank Osso Buco. If you’ve never had it, make NYBIB one of your destinations for Arizona Restaurant Week.

Cuisine: Italian

How much: $33/person

First course (choose one):
Crespelli con Funghi Forestiera – crepes filled with a wild mushroom ragout, topped with parmesan-cream reduction
Pomodoro in Carrozza – sliced tomato layered with mozzarella & mortadella breaded and fried; served with house marinara
Burrata Fritti con Arugula – deep-fried burrata served over arugula with EVOO & balsamic glaze
Melone con Prosciutto – seasonal melon wrapped with 16-month aged Prosciutto di Parma
Insalata alla Bistro – mixed salad greens, strawberries, goat cheese, candied walnuts with a citrus vinaigrette

Second course (choose one):
Pork Shank Ossobucco – braised for several hours in a red wine vegetable ragout, served over saffron risotto
Conchiglie con Aragosta – pasta shells stuffed with Maine Lobster, cheeses, and herbs, served with a Cognac cream sauce
Housemade Butternut Squash Ravioli – with a brown butter sage sauce and garnished with balsamic glaze
Chicken Sambucca – chicken breast simmered in a sambucca cream sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and broccoli florets on a bed of pasta ribbons
Salmone Ripieni – Stuffed salmon filet with seasonal vegetables, topped with a white wine lemon-butter sauce on a bed of cappellini

We hope we have helped ease your Arizona Restaurant Week decision-making process. Wherever you go be sure to make a reservation and – eat, drink, be merry then let us know what some of YOUR favorite dishes were!

To see the complete list of restaurants visit arizonarestaurantweek.com

For more Scottsdale restaurants, please visit our Restaurant Directory and our Happy Hour Live list!

Tony Pontecorvo can be found online at @disguyyy

Written by Tony Pontecorvo

I love good wine and witty wordplay. I dig local biz and the people involved within. Jack of all trades, master of my domain. You'll find me online as @disguyyy.

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