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Category Archives: Pizza

Playing in Park City

As a surprise, I kidnapped the hubby and took him to Park City, Utah for a long weekend. Neither one of us had been there, but with so much publicity about it, especially during the Sundance Film Festival, I figured it would be fun to go check it out.

We stayed in a villa at Marriott’s Summit Watch which is right on Main Street. They also have another location up on the mountain but, since it was low season and no snow, I am really glad that we stayed in town.

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The room was very cozy and, in true Marriott fashion, the bedding was super plush and there was a large soaking Jacuzzi tub that tall people will relish. We arrived really late on a Saturday night but took a quick walk around the deserted Main Street enjoying the crisp air before bed. On Sunday morning, we woke up late and enjoyed a cup of coffee while lounging by the fire. Being in search of a sports bar to watch the Steeler’s game, we headed over to Collie’s Bar and Grille.

As dog lovers, we appreciated their slogan of “Where good food is herding people together”. J Clearly Collie’s is the place to watch games because they had EVERY game on and a chart of what tables to sit at depending on what game you wanted to watch. Talk about a serious operation! We hoped to try their Green Chili Cheese Fries but were told that they were out so we settled for some chips and queso. They were good and the queso had a small amount of spice, so it wasn’t as bland as just melted cheese sauce. We wanted to try some of their BBQ so we split the Devils Friend with brisket and burnt ends and paired it with the coleslaw and corn bread. I think the winner of this plate was the brisket and coleslaw. The corn bread was okay, a little dry and not served with any butter. We washed lunch down with a local Park City’s Hooker Blonde Ale and Moab Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout.

Then we went out for a stroll to see historic Park City in the daylight. Being low season, there was not the rush of people that I assume arrive in the winter or in January for the film festival. This made for a nice leisurely walk. We took the free trolley up to the top of the hill and walked down stopping at all the shops along the way. There were lots of shops selling high priced winter gear, art, and other Park City tourist items. It was fun to look at but since we are from the warmer Phoenix valley, I decided to avoid spending $200 on a pair of furry boots that I could never wear, even if they were made in Canada from the tears of polar bears.

 

Since we were not used to being at 7,000 feet and it seemed drier than the Arizona desert, we were starting to get a little altitude headaches so we headed back to the room for a nap. We stopped on the way at a fun little doughnut shop called Peace, Love, and Little Donuts. I had never seen a shop where they create your donut toppings when y14925641_10209436713467194_1549364469874266443_nou order! They dip the donut into the warm frosting and then into the desired topping giving you fresh and creative made to order donuts. Since we like to try different flavors, we order a six pack with black and gold sprinkles (Steelers, baby!), maple bacon, chocolate chip, cherry pie, and banana Nestle crunch. I am glad they are small because they pack a rich sugar punch for sure!

 

After our nap, we tried to decide on a place to have dinner. Since many of the places were closed on Sunday and Monday and we didn’t have a car, we thought we were limited to options so we stopped for pizza and wine at Vinto Pizzeria on the Marriott property. Big mistake. Firstly, every child in town seemed to be in the restaurant with their family and all of them seemed to think words needed to be shouted. Secondly, we were tucked way back in the forgotten corner and I seriously thought I was never going to see a waiter. Remember, this is “low season”, imagine how they handle it when they are busy. Yikes! I ordered a cup of tomato basil soup and got a bowl. Then we ordered a bottle of wine, but were finished with our starter of goat cheese and pesto on pita before it ever came to us. We were told the bar was backed up but we didn’t see a single other table with drinks. So either that was a lie or they were sooooo far behind that no one had their drinks yet. The pizza was fine enough and afterwards we ended up at High West Distillery Saloon for a cocktail. Man we should have started here for dinner!

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High West is a large operation that we just learned was sold recently for $160M dollars to Constellation Brands making them a sibling to other high quality brands like Prisoner Wine Co. and Ballast Point Brewery. For such a big operation, the saloon in Park City was so charming and comfortable. The décor recreated an old-west saloon feel and all the servers looked dapper in their buttoned shirts and vests or denim and boots. Even the music fit the vibe playing some bluegrass and folk songs like Mumford and Sons and other bands in that genre. Bill ordered an Old Fashioned Old Fashioned which was the less sweet version and made with their Rendezvous Rye and an orange twist. I wanted to try something a little different so I got the Rusty Miner, which is made with their Double Rye! and smoked honey syrup. I was so sad to learn later that the smoked honey syrup was a special creation and not something that I could pick up at home.

 

Monday we used the free bus service again and took a trip to Kimball Junction to visit the Olympic Park. After taking the long way back on the bus and seeing some of the neighborhoods, we came back to downtown for dinner at Adolph’s. A former Swiss ski racer, Chef Adolph Imboden opened this amazing restaurant more than 30 years ago. The inside looks like a mixture of a ski chalet  and a memorabilia shop with all the pictures of skiers who have come to dine at Adolph’s. Again since it was low season we were lucky that we could walk right in and get a table at this warm and welcoming place. We were even greeted by Adolph himself who was answering phones and seating guests.

We started with the house specialty of Swiss Onion Soup that was divine! Creamy, delicate, and flavorful. It was like French Onion Soup but only four times better and without the soggy bread. We also tried the Swiss specialty of Bündnerfleisch, which is dried beef sliced thin and served with prosciutto, pickles, tomatoes, bread, and butter.

For dinner, Bill ordered the veal chop special served with a morel mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. He couldn’t get over how tender and flavorful the chop was and had to resist licking his plate clean. I ordered Veal Adolph’s, which was thin pieces of veal in a creamy mushroom wine sauce and served with a hash brown type of potato. It was so incredible! The flavors and the textures all blended together so perfectly.

Dinner had been so amazing; we couldn’t pass up trying one of the desserts. We ordered the Viennese Apple Strudel, which came with a warm vanilla sauce, and I tried a glass of the pear brandy. I normally don’t like dessert cocktails, but when in Rome, right? The brandy was strong but went so nicely with the rich and flaky strudel. Such an incredible end to a great meal.

We were relishing the cool crisp air and the evening had been so amazing that we didn’t want it to end. After getting a cab back to downtown, we found ourselves back at High West for another cocktail (or two or three).

Now it was day three and we have to head back later on that evening. I made another trek on the trolley to the top of the hill and stopped at Wasatch Brewery to buy Bill a Polygamy Porter sweatshirt he wanted and decided to stop at the bar for a quick pint of the smooth porter on draft. I paired it with a cup of creamy ham and pea soup and some fried pickles with a spicy dip for a quick lunch.

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Determined to get in one more restaurant visit, we stopped by Butcher’s Chop House for an early dinner before heading to the airport. Besides having a beautiful wood bar, there is also a nice view of the mountain and part of downtown. It is great to people watch while enjoying some happy hour treats. Their slogan of “Elegance without arrogance” seems spot on. It was comfortable and welcoming while being good quality. Since it was low season, we even enjoyed a special pricing on entrees and got one dinner free. Naturally, we tried some steaks since we were at a chophouse. Bill and I both ordered the prime rib with a mixture of bacon Brussel sprouts, jalapeno mac and cheese, or sautéed asparagus. I am not sure when Brussel sprouts started coming back in fashion but I do know that over the past few years, I have regained a new love for the small little cabbages and now crave them sautéed, roasted, broiled, or flash fried. Especially if it comes with some bacon or pancetta. Nom nom nom!

After a quick three days in Park City, it was time for us to head back home to Arizona. While the shopping and some of the tourists we ran into may be a bit pretentious, the spirit of the town and the people that work there make this a place we would love to come back to see again. Maybe next time there will be snow and those cocktails at High West will be even more enjoyable while we warm our toes by the fire.

Until then – cheers!

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Posted by on 11/13/2016 in American, Pizza, Southern

 

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July 17, 2016 – Bella Gusto

Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria

1964 N Alma School

Chandler, AZ 85224

480.696.4455

http://www.bellagustoaz.com/

Organized by: Janice

 

 

 
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Posted by on 07/17/2016 in Italian, Pizza

 

A night for bons vivants – homemade pasta and wine at VinciTorio’s

VinciTorio’s 
1835 E Elliot Rd C-109
Tempe, AZ 85284
480-820-2786
http://www.vincitoriosrestaurant.com/
Organized by Fred and Karna S.
 

The Double D’s met up again in July to experience VinciTorio’s Italian Restaurant in Tempe. And yes, I mean not just visit, but experience it. The night we visited was also the night of the dueling pianos in the wine bar (Enoteca) section of the restaurant. There are other live music offerings in the wine bar during the week – such as Sarah Vanell who we have seen before at Vintage 95 – however the dueling pianos are only once a month, so reservations are required. There is a quieter dinning side if you are not in the mood for song and dance, but trust me…you would be missing out.

We started with a bottle of 14 Hands Chardonay (Washington) for some and a bottle – then another – of Alexander Valley Vineyards Syrah (Sonoma County). The Syrah was delicious and a little bit lighter, which was nice for the summer evening.

All of our entrees came with a choice of soup or salad. Surprisingly all the men chose a salad and all the ladies ordered the cream of mushroom soup, at Karna’s recommendation. The soup was tasty and quite thick and creamy with little pieces of mushrooms included.

The entrees were well-prepared classic rustic Italian dishes: Raviloi di Formaggio (four cheeses), Raviloi Carbonara (sauteed bacon), Spaghetti Bolognese, Raviloi di Zucca (butternut squash), Linguine Vongole (clams), and Gnocchi Garganico – just to name a few. What sets these dishes apart is the focus on quality. The raviloi, trofie (short rolled shells), and gnocchi are all made in-house by Mario and his team. The remainder of the pasta is imported from Italy and made fresh daily. The tomato-basil sauce on top of the cheese raviloi and the gnocchi was refreshing and flavorful as opposed to a heavy marinara sauce. There was an extra abundance of sauce on the raviloi which could probably be reduced but it was tasty all the same. The linguine with clams was quite a bit heavier than expected and it is a large portion but the white-wine broth was good. The special of the evening was chicken stuffed with cheese in a marinara sauce paired with gnocchi in a cheese sauce. It was a lot of food, but delicious. Don enjoyed the gnocchi so much that he wished he could secretly lick the plate before they whisked it away. To sum it up the food was not overly pretentious, rather it was classic dishes with simple quality ingredients that allowed you to enjoyed the meal and not overwhelm your senses.

The service was exceptional. Mario (the owner) was very visible walking around the restaurant making sure that all the guests were taken care of. Water glasses were regularly filled, dishes were cleared quickly after you were done, and question or need was quickly addressed by a courteous employee, and all this with a very packed house. You could see the staff bustling around and clearly focused on making sure that everything was taken care of. Even when we left, staff that we had not even seen before were thanking us for coming and bidding us good night. This made for a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere during the entire evening.

The dueling pianos was a special treat which was lively and entertaining. Some of the girls in our group were dancing fools and enjoying every minute while some of the guys (I’m looking at you two, Bill and Don) were in agony. They are not fans of their wives dancing and signing at the table and this just gave them the freedom to do it all night and quite loudly.

All in all, it was an extremely fun evening with singing, dancing, lots of laughter, good food and wine, and great friends. Another successful DD’s event – thanks so much Karna and Fred!

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Posted by on 07/28/2013 in Italian, Pizza, Wine Bar

 

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Vito’s Pizza & Italian Ristorante

Vito’s Mesa
1947 N Lindsay Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85213
Ph. 480.832.3311
http://vitospizza.com/
Organized by: Bill and Sarah H.
 
Welcome to 2013! We rang in the new year with a tasty visit to Vito’s in Mesa. Our group was reduced almost by half this month due to traveling and the nasty cold and flu that is affecting everyone (it seems) in the country. We missed those who could not make it and hope they are soon feeling better!
 
Saturday night is very busy and the unusally shaped parking lot gets crowded and can be hard to navigate, but we managed to make it through. Vito’s has a bar area, and outside patio, a large dinning room with booths and tables as well as a finished downstairs cellar. The Cellar is their banquest room which they use as overflow on Friday and Saturdays and honestly is a bit more quiet than the rowdy upstairs. This makes it easier to hear everyone, not by much, but still easier. The table set up was two rounds pushed together for a group of 8. This made it kind of awkward and a larger table would have been preferred but we made it work. However all that was soon forgotten as the food started to arrive. 
 
We started with the calimari (both plain and herbed) which is just lightly breaded and pleasing to the calimari fans. We also ordered the bruschetta which is served on lightly toasted bread but soft enough not to crumble into crunchy pieces and topped with fresh tomato, onion, feta cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
 
Tonight Pat as well as Fred’s guest, Rex, enjoyed the Seafood Lasagna made with scallops, orange roughy, shrimp, crab, mozarella and ricotta and topped with their special homemade sunrise sauce, which is a sort of blend of red and alfredo sauce. mmmmm. There was also Sausage and Peppers made with their homemade Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and marinara sauce. Fred S enjoyed it and said he enjoyed their sauce better than Pesto’s. uh oh, thems’ fightin’ words!
 
Ann enjoyed the Eggplant Marinara, which I also got to sample, but she was a little disappointed with the spaghetti on the side as it seemed a little cooler than normal. Bill and Sarah shared a Deluxe pizza, and Jay gobbled up a meat lover pizza topped with sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, and meatballs. These Chicago style thin crust pizzas are just heavenly and can be addicting so use caution! These have the ability to inspire dancing at the table while eating. yum-o-licious.
 
Lastly we washed down dinner with a couple bottles of an Argentinian Malbec. We sampled a Cabernet from Avalon Winery in Napa but it was much too sweet for our liking. We made a good choice since Argentina delivers some great Malbecs.
 
Lastly when dinner was over, we had no tummy room but it seemed a crime to miss out on dessert. We opted to try Vito’s mini-desserts as opposed to their giant “we only came here for dessert” sizes. The mini-cannolis, with pistachio and chocolate chips, and mini-tiramisu were just enough to sample and share and a nice way to end the evening. Deliciously done, Vito’s. complimenti!
 
 
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Posted by on 01/19/2013 in Italian, Pizza

 

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Pestos Pizza and Wine Bar

Pestos Pizza and Wine Bar
1960 W Ray Rd Suite 4
Chandler, AZ
Ph 480.821.2949
http://pestospizza.com/
Organized by: Jen and Don Westhafer
 
Merry Christmas! It’s time again for the DDs holiday party and wine exchange! This year we had a theme of Scarves and Hats. You can see from the pics who chose what to wear. Please pay special attention to Ann’s “honey bee” hat for it is quite adorable.

Pestos is a favorite of many of the DDs but we have never visited there as a group, so this was a great choice for our holiday get together. We started with some appetizers which included a sampler of Stuffed Mushrooms, a special dish of figs wrapped in bacon (hello, heaven!) and tasty bruschetta.

Dinner included various dishes from lasagna, calzones, meat pizzas (hello, heartburn), and grilled chicken dishes. Pestos also does a great job with cocktails especially the Blueberry Lemondrop (pictured).

Jay and Bill again did their best to avoid the camera but Sarah was able to sneak one picture of the ever mysterious Jay-man. This evidence should sell for millions on eBay!

The wine/beer/alcohol exchange was again a fun time with some tears of loss offset with tears of joy as gifts were stolen. We missed the company of Fred and Karna but know that we will see them soon. Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

apps and martini group jay and bill jay ladies

 
 

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September 29, 2012 – St Francis

St. Francis
111 E Camelback Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85012
602.200.8111
http://www.stfrancisaz.com
Hours: M-Th 11-10/ F 11-11/ Sat 9-11/ Sun 9-9
Brunch served on Saturday and Sunday 9-2:30
Organized by: Jenn Harrison
 
There is something magical about visiting a restaurant that has such a fun archeticural style mixed with a great vibe and cuisine. St Francis is located in downtown Phoenix amongst large car dealerships but somehow all that falls away when you visit. The Double Ds seemed to have a place of honor at a great large table that is in a gorgeous glass alcove happily jutting out into the landscape. Named as an homage to San Francisco and the local St Francis community neighborhood, the restaurant is not only pleasing to the tastbuds but also to the eye with the beautiful exposed brick, modernly fashionable bathrooms, and appealing art that lines the walls.
 
Happy Hour is available everyday until 6pm and some of the regular menu items are available for less which is a great chance for you to try more than one dish.  It’s not Ds without cocktails and this night was no different. St Francis offers delicious signature cocktails such as St Francis Lemonade and Cucumber Cooler featuring homemade syrups. I had to make sure they weren’t a one-hit wonder so I tried another Lemonade, then another, then another…yup, always bursting with amazing flavors.
 
Dishes can be seasonal and this time there were some options with a fall twist. Karna and I tried the pumpkin soup which was very good and with an unexpected pomegranate seed. Fred enjoyed the Pork Chop with chestnut puree, savoy cabbage, bacon, and whole grain mustard pork au jus and I ordered the Pot Roast with sweet corn polenta, mushrooms, horseradish, celery, and fresh herbs. The flavor was fantastic but the cut of meat was too fatty for my taste in that dish. Many of the rest of the dinner dishes came from the happy hour menu but are also offered on the dinner menu as well. Tasty options such as the savory Pork Chili Verde; the not so bad Meatballs with moroccan spice,hen egg, and pearl pasta; and the killer French Onion Burger made with smoken bacon, gruyere, and crispy onions. It has bacon, of course it wins! Next time I really must try a pizza in their wood fired oven. So many dishes, so little time.
 
We were pretty stuffed but we had to try the deserts. We all shared the seasonal Pumpkin Cheescake in a Jar topped with candied walnuts and the Chocolate Stout Cake served with a cinnamon smoked chile gelato. Oh, yes. I said cinnamon chile gelato with moist chocolate cake. Nom, nom.
 
Parking is tough because of the limited space but a friendly and personable complementary valet is ready and waiting to help so you and your friends can have a wonderful D kind of visit.
 
 
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Posted by on 09/29/2012 in American, Pizza

 

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July 21 – Cibo Pizzeria

Cibo Pizzeria
603 N 5th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85003
602.441.2697
http://www.cibophoenix.com
 
Although the Double Ds did not get together in July due to schedules, Bill and I did have a chance to try a new place with some great friends, Thom and Susan. I would be despondent if I did not take this opportunity to remember our experiences.
 
Cibo is a fun little pizzeria in historic downtown Phoenix that follows a trend of converting old homes into stylish and initmate restaurants. Cibo delivers a quaint atmosphere filled with character which includes patio seating that is covered by twinkling lights. If we had we not arrived on a night of a monsoon storm with pelting rain, we may have taken advantage of the of the charming outside area.
 
Cibo has quite a following and while we arrived at 8pm and the wait was only a few minutes, we have heard that if you wish to dine earlier, be prepared to wait…a long time.
 
We started with the Burrata which is fresh mozzarella with a creamy heart topped with a balsamic glaze and served with black label prosciutto crudo and toasted bread. The crunchiness of the toast with the creaminess of the delectable mozzarella was a fantastic combination!
 
We also tried the summer special salad which was greens tossed in a vinaigrette with grilled peaches, cherries, beets and goat cheese. The flavors were fantastic and the whole salad was very refreshing in the Arizona heat.
 
For the main dishes, Bill ordered the Salsiccia Pizza with tomato sauce, sausage, and mozzarella while I ordered the Vegetariana Pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, zucchini and roasted red peppers. The pizzas were good but after having pizza from Vito’s in Mesa, it is really hard for anything else to measure up to heaven on a pie.
 
The wine selections are all Italian varieties with a selection of Italian and local beers as well. I tried the Candoni Pinot Noir and it was the first Italian wine I can remember really enjoying.
 
We followed up dinner with a couple of espressos and shared a warm crepe filled with Nutella and strawberries, topped with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce. We also opted to add fresh whipped cream and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. This was definately unexpected and the warm crepe just melts in your mouth. It was a warm, fresh, flavorful, and fabulous ending to dinner.
 
Overall the experience was good. While we can’t say that we were overwhelmed by the flavors of the dishes, the evening was very enjoyable due to the cute location and most of all because of the great company.
 
Cincin!
 
 
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Posted by on 07/23/2012 in Italian, Pizza

 

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