In case you missed their openings (where have you been?), here are five of the latest and greatest restaurants to hit the Valley. Bon appetit!
Opened in September 2009, St. Francis is owned by partners David and Aaron Chamberlain, the latter of which is also the restaurant’s executive chef. Designed to feature a lot of open spaces ideal for large gatherings, St. Francis has a warm and inviting atmosphere. Guests have the option of dining on the first floor – where grand doors open to a large yet cozy patio area – or on the mezzanine level, which offers views of the bar, as well as the majestic Piestewa Peak. Now in its eight month, the restaurant’s kitchen is surely hitting its stride, having perfected a style of cuisine which is neither over- nor under-thought. Incorporating as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, St. Francis concocts such fine dishes as Provincial Seafood Soup, French-Style Pot Roast, and Wood-Fired Lemon Chicken. The lighting in the evenings makes this an ideal spot for a sumptuous, intimate dinner for two.
St. Francis is located at 111 E. Camelback Road in Phoenix (602) 200-8111
Opened in October 2009, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen adjacent to Scottsdale Fashion Square mall is Cameron Mitchell restaurant group’s third Marcella’s venue, with the other two located in Columbus, Ohio. However, that’s not to say Mitchell is a stranger to Arizona – his group also established CityNorth’s Ocean Prime fish and steak house. As with almost all of Mitchell’s other restaurants, Marcella’s design, decorations, and even atmosphere evoke a distinct time and place – in this case – romantic, mid-century Rome. Not only is the environment a joy to dine in, with hanging plants and lanterns, a canopied patio reminiscent of an outdoor cafe, and an elegant Old World-style bar, but the Italian cuisine is exhilarating. Surprisingly simple yet perfectly executed is the name of the game here, but don’t think that means variety has been sacrificed. Choose an order of calamari, sausage and cheese boards, or olive trays to start, then narrow down your entree to a traditional pasta dish, a panini (few regret the Braised Veal Meatball), or one of Marcella’s artisan pizzas – the Crispy Potato is unexpected and delicious.
Marcella’s Italian Kitchen is located at 7014 E. Camelback Road in Scottsdale (480) 947-2105
Formerly Radio Milano, the restaurant re-opened in March 2010 under the new name of Radio Cafe, with the cuisine changing from Italian to contemporary urban dishes possessing something of a Japanese flair. Sushi is on the menu then, naturally, with fillings ranging from spicy tuna to salmon to sweet potato with Japanese barbecue sauce. There’s even a chef’s “Trust Me” roll on the menu, allowing for an element of surprise. Additional bites include edamame, tortilla chips with guacamole and hummus, the decadent Toni’s Deviled Eggs, Alaskan King Crab, Ahi Tuna Burger Sliders, a “Lady” Steak Petite Arugula Salad, and more, covering a wide range of flavors. Wash it all down with your elixir of choice, as the full bar provides a stellar selection of tequila, vodka, gin, scotch, rum, bourbon, whiskey, and yes, even sake. Try a bit of their famous Olive Oil Cake before leaving – it’s a must.
Radio Cafe is located at 3950 E. Campbell Avenue in Phoenix (602) 956-6600
Opened in Downtown Chandler in October 2009, Siracha Lounge is owned and operated by husband and wife team Virakon and Melissa Vongphachan. Serving fine Asian-American dishes representing a number of regions, including Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, and Japan, Siracha offers both traditional and creative cuisine. Appetizer options include staples such as Fried Spring Rolls, Miso Soup, and satay skewers, as well as the inventive Monkey Ball coconut puffs and Bangkok Buffalo Wings, served with a sweet and sour sauce. To progress your meal, there’s lighter fare, such as Oxtail Soup, Pho Soup, and Tuna Tataki Salad, as well as specialty entrees, including Pepper Steak, Asian Orange Chicken, Spicy Yaki Udon Noodles, and the much-loved Pad Thai. With a spacious patio and karaoke lounge, Siracha is a fun place for groups large or small.
Siracha Lounge is located at 91 W. Boston Street in Chandler (480) 857-1409
Not to be confused with the second Haute 5 restaurant listed above, Marcellino Ristorante was a Phoenix favorite for six years before closing shop and re-opening at a new Scottsdale location last month. And rest assured, Executive Chef Marcellino Verzino, who also owns the restaurant with his wife, Sima, has some changes in store. Most prominently, will be the addition of his new wood-burning stove, which will fill the new venue with the scent of freshly baked pizzas around lunchtime. Marcellino’s fine Italian favorites, however, will remain, such as the mussels in white wine, cognac-flamed lamb with grapes, and Italian Seafood Stew. Our recommendation would be to order a pasta dish, as Marcellino arguably makes the best homemade pasta in Scottsdale.
Marcellino Ristorante is located at 7114 E. Stetson Drive in Old Town Scottsdale (602) 216-0004