He's here. He's gone. He's here again. Two years ago, chef-owner Razz Kamnitzer moved his Razz's Restaurant across the parking lot to a new, improved space on the southeast corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea (his previous location, in the way back of the same complex, was virtually impossible to find). The new Razz's, with its interesting exposition kitchen -- diners at the bar actually sat in the cooking area -- was pretty popular.
But last June, Kamnitzer announced he was closing, planning to escape the restaurant world for at least three years. He'd had enough, he said, and wanted to spend more time with his family.
Time flies. Razz's has reopened just five months later, in the same space, with pretty much the same menu. A new addition includes a tasting menu at the bar, where, for $8 a plate, diners can hopscotch among Razz's eclectic, Mediterranean-inspired dishes, sampling the chef's choice of mini-portioned appetizers and entrees. Also new: an art gallery, with commissioned pieces from local artists lining the walls. A resident artist, George Judson, appears Thursdays through Saturdays and will paint portraits of guests while they dine.
Kamnitzer and clan spent the summer touring Cambodia and Thailand. The trip was amazing, the chef says, but after returning, "Reality set in, and it was time to get back to work."
Well, it's good news for me, anyway. As soon as I saw the new sign go up along Scottsdale Road, I hotfooted it over for a dynamite meal of crispy calamari over creamy vegetable risotto in spicy red chile sauce, crespelles (Italian crepes with veal, chicken and mushrooms under chopped tomato), thick black bean and sausage soup, and twice-roasted duck breast with lingonberry sauce.
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Roti-Oh: Don't plan on dinner anytime soon at Roti-Joe's, the rotisserie meat house that opened this spring in the failed Mulberry Street location at 38th Street and Indian School. A sign on the door says the restaurant is "closed for repairs," and an answering service rings to a blank message.
Roti-Joe's is/was the creation of Michael Shortino (formerly of Steamers) and David Landreville (formerly of Che Bella, a sporadic restaurant presence in the Biltmore Fashion Park).
Sake to me: Yet another Japanese restaurant has opened in the Valley, Toyama, taking over the former Haiku restaurant at Pinnacle Peak and Scottsdale. I'm curious to try the "pressed sushi," described as a mechanical squishing of fish, rice, fish and rice layers.