Moving, Shaking and Baking: The proprietors of the excellent Rancho Pinot Grill have moved out of Town & Country Shopping Center and headed for new digs in Scottsdale. They hope to open in their new location at 6208 North Scottsdale Road sometime in mid-October. There won't be many changes. The restaurant will still be small enough to be run by the dynamic husband-and-wife team. (She runs the kitchen, he runs everything else.) And they still have no plans to open up for lunch--one of their bones of contention, they say, with Town & Country management.
Now, though, the place will have a license to sell beer and wine. But fans of their BYOB policy, like me, will still be welcome to bring in their own favorites. As before, the restaurant will provide the stemware for a charge. For more info, call 468-9463. Taking Rancho Pinot Grill's place at Town & Country will be Pizzeria Bianco. Proprietor Chris Bianco ran the deli at the late, lamented Euro Market, and most recently has been baker and line cook at Rancho Pinot Grill. In a Bronx accent thicker than Sicilian pizza crust, Bianco told me his place would offer a limited menu, concentrating on quality, not variety. Look for upscale salads, microbrewery beers, a couple of homemade desserts and state-of-the art, thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pizzas, made with homemade cheese and toppings. He also hopes to get under way in October.
Happy Daze: Maybe it was because the Best of Phoenix supplement was behind me. Maybe it was because I'd finally finished writing my new restaurant guidebook. Maybe it was because the football season was under way. Maybe it was because the kids were back in school. Whatever it was, I walked into Sportsman's Wines, Spirits & Other Flavours a few weeks ago feeling like I'd just won the lottery. And when I walked out about 45 minutes later, my mood had gotten even better. First of all, the wine selection is unsurpassed. I spent a few moments daydreaming in front of a $247 bottle of Chteau d'Yquem, then wandered around the store before settling on a $10 half-bottle of hard-to-find Beaumes-de-Venise and a well-priced $9 half-bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage port for later in the evening. The store's cheese selection rivals its stock of wine. I got a thin slice of morbier to help with the port. I also picked up a pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant) to bribe the kids into going to bed at an early enough hour so my wife and I could enjoy the port and cheese at full consciousness. Then I sat down in the store's small cafe area for a first-rate pt de compagne sandwich on a wonderfully fresh baguette, complete with Cornichons and Dijon mustard. Wine, cheese, bread, pt. Sometimes life is not only good, it can actually be reasonably affordable. Sportsman's is at 3205 East Camelback. Call 955-7730.
Done to a Tea: The Phoenician is hosting a series of tea modelings this fall. For $14.75, you'll not only get the hotel's afternoon tea service, you'll get soothed by live classical music and watch good-looking women parade around in the latest fashions from local boutiques. The modelings take place on six Saturdays, between October 8 and December 17. Call 423-2530 for reservations.