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September 27 – The Market by Jennifer’s

The Market by Jennifer’s
3603 E Indian School Rd Suite A
Phoenix, AZ 85018
602.626.5050
http://themarketbyjennifers.com/

Organized by: Janice

The DDs (minus Fred and Pat who couldn’t make it) made our way to Arcadia this month to check out a local kitchen right in the same parking lot as Beckett’s Table and others. Hidden a little on the side of the plaza the restaurant had a cozy charming feel with an open seating area that is clean and simple without being stuffy, a beautiful wrap around patio, and a view into the kitchen to watch the magic happen.

Fred S demonstrated some of his playa skillz and hung out with the ladies at one table while the rest of the boys pretended like it was the playground at grade school hiding away from the girls and telling dirty jokes. 😉

Originally started as a catering company, Jennifer Russo-Fitzgerald used her magic to create a fun place to showcase her culinary innovations. Not only do they offer a great dine-in experience, there is also Curbside Catering offered as well as a Grab N’Go counter.

With a seasonal menu that offers fresh local ingredients, you are sure not to get bored by a variety of dining options. We started with some happy hour wine selections and some cocktails. The Black and Blue Mojito made with blackberries was divine and dangerous. It would be so easy to enjoy way to many of that refreshing beverage.

For starters we tried some of the options from the rotating “Bites” menu. This week it was the Meatball sliders with roasted San Marzano tomato sauce, the Fried Prosciutto/Provolone Balls with Garlic aioli, Grilled Chipotle BBQ wings, Cheddar & Italian Parsley nachos and Chili & Chive “Dirty Pop” popcorn. Very tasty way to start the evening!

Market by Jennifer’s was participating in Restaurant Week so some of us decided to try to prixe fixe options. This included selections such as the butternut squash & crème fresh soup; grilled cheese with white cheddar, gruyere and honey on a fresh brioche; fresh pasta with pancetta, parmigiano reggiano, poached egg and crisp prosciutto; and free range chicken with skin & crispy artichoke hearts paired with grilled corn polenta. All of these dishes were divine, but none made me swoon like the pasta with pancetta and poached egg that Ann so brilliantly chose.

Some other excellent choices for dinner was the roasted asparagus soup (which was better than the butternut squash if that was possible); the perfectly cooked ricotta gnocchi with peas, fava beans, Parmesan, and prosciutto; and the crispy salmon with roasted baby zucchini, saffron, baby onions, and natural jus. (FYI we heard that this was Jennifer’s signature dish! )

For dessert we ordered the lavendar crème brulee which was sadly a little disappointing, the HUGE chipwich ice cream sandwich, and the mason jar of lemon meringue pie.

In addition to watching a huge summer storm rage outside, we were also entertained with some live indie music by a guy who looked like he was channeling Johnny Cash. Thankfully, the music did not start until we were well into dinner and the volume so it did not drown out the good time we were having, but it was nice to add to the fun evening with some good music!

Pretty soon we were forced to say adieu and try to race the next wave of storms back to our part of the valley. Thank you Janice for picking a delicious place that also supports local farmers and merchants!

 
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Posted by on 09/27/2014 in American

 

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Jan 18 – A foodie’s odyssey of the Greek variety

Pitta Souvli Mediterranean Grill
1940 S Alma School Rd
Chandler, AZ 85286
480-907-5893
www.pittasouvli.com
 
Organized by: Pat and Fred

We started 2014 with a big “Opa!” by visiting Pitta Souvli in Chandler. This charming place boasts a focus on preparing everything daily and using the “freshest most natural ingredients”. It is clear that the word about this place is out because the place was rockin’ on a Saturday night. This caused quite a bit of a wait for our food, but the fresh flavors are worth the time spent in anticipation and are served by people who have a real love for the food. Never trust a restaurant owner who doesn’t have a passion for their dishes!

For starters we tried the weekly special of Spicy Jalapeno and Avocado Hummus, which was a must for this crowd of hummus fans. We also ordered the Greek Fries, which is steak fries in a secret dressing and topped with feta cheese and tomatoes, plus Grilled Halloumi, a native cheese of Cyprus and supposedly the only grillable cheese. Like Homer and his doughnuts… “mmmm cheeeeese” For a grilled cheese, it was surprisingly cool and not what I expected, but the Greek Fries packed a punch to my taste buds. Must have been the magical feta. 🙂

For our entrees, many of us enjoyed the evening special of fresh ravioli with artichoke and with a light lemon and oil sauce. Some added shrimp and some went the meatless route but all of us agreed that it was delicious! The flavors were so fantastic and the pasta was light and fresh.

Also tried was the Grilled Mushroom Platter, Gyro Platter, Lamb Souvlaki Platter, and the Pork Souvlaki Platter. All platters were served with greek salad, roasted potatoes, pitta bread, and the glorious tzatziki. Don’t be fooled, the portion sizes are enormous and many of us took some home to savor all over again the next day.

Beverages for the evening was a Greek red wine, which was surprisingly very light and a little sweet, as well as Pinot Grigio and some beers on tap.

We rounded out the evening with some desserts and coffee. Word of warning, the Baklava is sweet enough to share with many – one bite packs a punch enough to satisfy any sweet cravings. But you absolutely can’t miss the phyllo pastry that is topped with cinnamon and sugar. Devine! Only problem is we were so stuffed we could barely manage a bite.

We had a 3G kind of evening: great food, great friends, and a great time. It was another delicious adventure for our spoiled taste buds!

Καλή χρονιά! (Happy New Year!)

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Posted by on 02/22/2014 in Greek

 

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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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