Second Helpings

Restaurant News: There seems to be no letup in the number of entrepreneurs who believe opening a restaurant in the Valley is the path to fame and fortune. Here are some of the ventures I'll be checking out this year:

Restaurant Hapa: A husband-and-wife team--he's worked at RoxSand, she at Rancho Pinot Grill--presents an intriguing menu of Asian-accented dishes. Look for appetizers like skillet-roasted mussels in a Thai coconut broth and grilled skirt steak with a Korean barbecue sauce. Entrees include five-spice crusted rack of lamb and caramelized Chinese mustard beef tenderloin. The place will be BYOB, four of my favorite letters. An interesting aside: Chryssa and Tom Kaufman, proprietors of next-door Rancho Pinot Grill, are financial partners, although they'll have nothing to do with kitchen operations.

Restaurant Hapa is at 6204 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, in a storefront that has housed two failed restaurants during the past 18 months. Call 998-8220.

Veneto Trattoria: I got a look at this new northern Italian restaurant's menu, and it looks impressive. I'm especially curious about the Venetian specialties: baccala mantecato, Venetian-style cod served with grilled polenta; risotto with pumpkin and wild mushrooms; pork garlic sausages; and calf's liver. The restaurant's at 6137 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, in the space formerly occupied by Vagara Bistro. Call 948-9928.

Kaishu: Pretty soon there will be enough Japanese restaurants in the Valley to service the entire population of Yokohama. This good-looking spot features the traditional sushi/sashimi offerings, as well as the usual teriyaki steak, fish and chicken. It's at 7333 East Indian Bend Plaza, Scottsdale. Call 941-4224.

Winger's: A nostalgia-themed diner with several operations throughout the West. Look for wings, ribs, sandwiches and pasta. It's at 1815 East Elliot, Tempe. Call 831-1560.

Chase's Diner: What's going on here? Pretty soon there will be enough nostalgia-themed diners in the East Valley to feed every '50s wanna-be in Maricopa County. It's at 2040 North Alma School, Chandler. Call 855-3663.

Cheesecake Factory: At last, this terrific California-based operation is coming to the Valley. Cheesecake aficionados will need to plan an exercise regimen in anticipation of the opening later this year. The cheesecake is decadent beyond imagination, and the food is first-rate, too. And what a location--the Cheesecake Factory will be doing business next to Nordstrom at Camelback and Scottsdale roads.

Say Cheese: You can't have too many old-neighborhood Italian groceries. I stopped in at Michael Angelo's, a charming storefront in the shopping complex at the northeast corner of Tatum and Thunderbird. I loved the homemade mozzarella, as creamy and delicate as you'll find anywhere in town. The Bronx-born proprietor also puts together a fetching cannoli. Look for pasta and sandwiches, too. Call 996-5149.

Say Bread: West siders, rejoice. Arizona Bread Company is opening a west Valley operation, Main Street Deli & Coffee Shop. It will be in Renaissance Village, at 13714 North Plaza del Rio Boulevard, Peoria.

--Howard Seftel

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