Star Light, Star Bright: Almost two centuries ago, the French philosopher of the kitchen, gastronome Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, observed that "the discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star."
The man was absolutely right. I recently discovered a new dish at Eddie's Grill (4747 North Seventh Street) that improved my mood more than the discovery of any star ever could. In fact, I doubt whether even the discovery of a new planet could have pleased me quite so much.
The new dish is a luscious seafood cioppino pot pie, an inventive take on traditional chicken pot pie. The chef stocks a large bowl with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, whitefish and bow-tie pasta, all swimming in a sharp, fennel-scented broth that's zipped up with peppery heat and served under a doughy canopy of puff pastry. I believe that $17.95 cannot buy you any more happiness in this town, at least legally.
Hot Town, Summer in the City: The snowbirds have gone. Your relatives have headed back East. Your boss is on vacation until October. And if you had any sense or disposable income, you'd be outta here, too. Phoenix in the summer is a great place--for lizards.
At this time of year, restaurants have a hard time finding enough fannies to fill their seats. So they offer deals that would be unthinkable the rest of the year. Here are three of the better ones:
* The Ritz-Carlton Grill, Tarbell's and RoxSand offer an Uptown Dine-Around. Every Friday and Saturday, until September 7, you put dinner together, one course at a time, at each place. Through July 13, you get appetizers at the Ritz-Carlton, entrees at Tarbell's and desserts at RoxSand. Starting July 19, you switch courses: appetizers at Tarbell's, entrees at RoxSand, dessert at the Ritz.
The package includes an overnight at the Ritz, where you get complimentary use of the fitness center to work off your indulgence. The cost is $189 per couple, plus room tax. For more info, call the Ritz-Carlton at 468-0700.
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* Can't afford to ship the kids to military boarding school for the summer? Tucchetti's (2135 East Camelback) will help you out, at least on Mondays in June, July and August. The under-12 crowd can get free "Bambino meals"--pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, or chicken fingers, served with garlic bread, beverage and ice cream. But don't send the kids here on their own. For each two kids, at least one adult must be present.
* High-end Valley dining can easily send a check for two into triple digits. But if you climb to swanky Top of the Rock (The Buttes, 2000 Westcourt Way, Tempe) from now through September 2, you can take advantage of a three-course, fixed-price summer menu for $22.50 per person. In fact, if you can get there before 7 p.m., the price goes down to $20.25.
The summer menu offers three appetizer choices, three entree selections and an apple-walnut-tart dessert. Of course, if you're flush, you can always go with the pricier regular menu.
For reservations or info, call 225-9000.