Where's the Beefcake?

Adonis is M.I.A.

My girlfriend and I order steak, skipping over a 16-ounce pan-roasted sirloin (with wild mushroom risotto and port wine reduction) and an impressive 24-ounce T-bone (real man grub, laden with creamed spinach, garlic mashed potatoes and onion) for a luxurious grilled tenderloin with more of that melted Gorgonzola, baby arugula and fig balsamic. We ask for a knife; our server smiles and says that the meat is so tender, we don't need one, or a fork either. It is good beef, to be sure, and his smile is so swell, we melt like butter ourselves.

Another time, we focus on medallions of veal, and lobster, priced as un-Scottsdale bargains at $19 and $23, respectively. Veal arrives first-class and complex, with sautéed shiitake mushrooms, diced prosciutto, white onion, veal demi-glace and imported Sicilian Florio Marsala. The lobster is a full catch, split, sautéed and nested over angel hair in a light garlic, tomato, basil and white wine broth. We're having such a good time with glasses of wine, and forkfuls of spinach ravioli, layered like those new Oreo cookies with one side green, one side white, and plump with herbed ricotta in tomato basil sauce.

Ruggiero certainly knows his demographics better than I do, and he hasn't asked my opinion, but I for one wouldn't mind seeing a little bit more relaxation to the upscale effort, and more of the funk that makes Pasta Brioni such a kick. Where else in burgeoning, money-fat north Scottsdale can diners go for a terrific meal, live music, and flamboyant ambiance? Barcelona next door comes close, with its over-the-top lounge lizard act, the Zowie Bowie Band. Yet I've never gotten into the careless cuisine there, nor the inflated prices.

The sign could use some work, but Brioni's Copa Room deserves more business.
Jackie Mercandetti
The sign could use some work, but Brioni's Copa Room deserves more business.


Boston lemon sole: $21
Tuna carpaccio: $10
Cold poached artichoke: $9
Beet tower salad: $6
Grilled tenderloin Gorgonzola/fig: $29

480-315-1299. Hours: Dinner, Tuesday through Thursday, 4:30 to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4:30 to 11 p.m.

15445 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

Copa Room has everything in place for a frolicking success -- fantastic food, relatively reasonable prices, and a hip ambiance. Ruggiero just needs for the rest of the Valley to discover him. I'm thinking something crazy -- like bringing in a Barry Manilow impersonator to belt out, what else, "Copa Cabana" -- might help get the buzz going. Hey, such a gimmick has worked wonders for Pasta Brioni.

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