The Old Town Scottsdale space that used to house Pischke's has been dark for nearly two years, but soon it promises to become a vibrant new presence in the local dining scene.
Iruña, a new restaurant from chef Aaron May, will tentatively open around the 1st of May. It's named after the Basque word for the Spanish city of Pamplona.
Since the shuttering of his popular DC Ranch Spanish eatery, Sol y Sombra, last August, May hasn't had an upscale venue for his cooking. (He currently owns Over Easy, 18 Degrees, and Mabel's on Main.) He's also shelved plans for a Basque restaurant called Leche, which would've been housed in a historic building in downtown Scottsdale.
Now, May is creating a "hybrid" of those two concepts and combining them into something "more Spanish than Leche, and more casual than Sol y."
"I'm super-excited to cook that kind of food again," May says. "It'll be fun to order razor clams, turbot, and sea urchin." He's also looking forward to working with dairy ingredients, which are more prevalent in Basque cuisine than in mainstream Spanish food.
The menu is still in the works, but it will mostly consist of small plates.
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As for the atmosphere, May and business partner Quinn Goldsberry did a lot of the work themselves on an expensive remodel, stripping and sandblasting the space down to bare brick, but preserving an original 50-year-old mural they discovered.
"It'll be a synthesis of industrial and handcrafted."
On a related note, May will be promoting another of his upcoming restaurant concepts at this weekend's AZ BBQ Festival.
Vitamin T, the Mexican eatery he'll be opening at CityScape in downtown Phoenix, will be at the festival on Saturday serving authentic Sonoran hot dogs, with fresh buns from a bakery in Magdalena, Mexico.