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10 (Okay, 11) Best First Tastes of 2012 in Greater Phoenix

10 (Okay, 11) Best First Tastes of 2012 in Greater Phoenix
Rusconi's American Kitchen

Thanks to hundreds of new restaurants opening in the Valley this year -- including a cozy artisan pizza shop in Scottsdale, a vegan bakery downtown, and a trio of cuisines in East Phoenix -- there was plenty to chew on when it came to First Tastes, our column of initial impressions.

See also: 9 Best New Restaurants of 2012 in Greater Phoenix

Featuring a variety of fare for various tastes and wallet sizes, this list has a little something for everyone. Find a favorite or two and pay them a visit in the new year.

Rusconi's American Kitchen

A round of applause for chef Michael Rusconi, who opened his new restaurant of seasonal and sustainable American fare in the middle of a chain-infested strip mall at the northeast corner of Tatum and Shea. With dishes like butternut squash ravioli and prickly pear braised red cabbage, the neighborhood has quickly caught on, leaving the likes of Panda Express and Corleone's in the dust. Read the First Taste here.

10 (Okay, 11) Best First Tastes of 2012 in Greater Phoenix
Laura Hahnefeld

Il Bosco Pizza

Scottsdale's best-kept secret for a cozy-casual dinner of low lights and handcrafted 'za can be found at this tiny restaurant from former mobile pizza business couple Bill and Gina Forrest. Fashioned from naturally risen dough, the "Neo-Neapolitan style" pies feature first-rate ingredients best enjoyed with a glass of wine and Il Bosco's bottomless olive tray. Read the First Taste here.

10 (Okay, 11) Best First Tastes of 2012 in Greater Phoenix
Jackie Mercandetti

-Jerk Hut Jamaican Grille

The menu of Jamaican eats in this tiny, counter-service eatery on 19th Avenue just north of Indian School Road may be small, but who cares when the flavors (not to mention the portion sizes) are so big? Don't miss killer jerk chicken, bone-in curried goat, and stewed veggie chunks along with daily specials like beef patties and Jamaican stew peas. Read my review of Jerk Hut here.



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