If you didn't make it to Quiessence, the destination restaurant at the Farm at South Mountain, before chefs Greg LaPrad and Tony Andiario left at the end of the season, you're in luck. In the not-so-far-off future, you'll be able to taste LePrad's talents at Overland Trout in Sonoita. And as for Andiario, he's still turning out thoughtful, farm-to-table dishes here in the Valley, at least for now.
Friday night he kicked off the month-long pop-up restaurant Supper, inside Mill Avenue's Ncounter. During the two-and-a-half-hour dinner service, about 30 guests enjoyed a four-course meal of Italian summer-themed dishes featuring local and housemade products.
Andiario said when he left Quiessence that he was looking to spread his wings and indulge his penchant for constantly changing menus. As far as that goes, Supper seems like the perfect fit. The menu will change weekly -- and if each one is as creative and enjoyable as this one, then guests have a lot to look forward to.
The meal started out with an heirloom tomato terrine, colorful layers of sweet tomatoes topped with salty fried squash blossoms, a great contrast to the refreshing cucumber and basil vinaigrette. The best dish of the night, however, may have been the second course: roasted egg plant raviolo lunga, a single, long strip of pasta dough with teeth on one side. The thick al dente pasta encased beautifully smokey eggplant and came topped with sweet corn and, best of all, freshly made ricotta. We were glad we asked for a side of the housemade salami nola (our dish got plated without it). It was some of the best charcuterie we've tasted in a long time.
The third course of Two Wash Ranch chicken with peppers, Queen Creek olives and purslane was less exciting but the bedding of summer squash purree was, in the words of one guest, "like eating a cloud." And dessert, a seasonal melon sorbet was icy like a granita but still enjoyable. We would have been happy with just a plate of the tuile cookies though, that were delicate, sweet, and buttery.
We admit the atmosphere at the July-only pop won't be anywhere near what you could have experienced at the picturesque Farm at South Mountain, but the nightlife on Mill Ave does offer a pretty entertaining sideshow. And though the vibe at Ncounter doesn't really fit with the food Andiaio's bringing out of the kitchen, the restaurant did a decent job of turning a causal breakfast spot into a cozy dinning room. If you go for the "optional wine pairings," be warned that all each glass will cost you about $10 each.
Supper will be open on Friday and Saturday nights for the remaining Fridays and Saturdays left in July. Dinner starts at 7 p.m. For reservations, call 480-447-7248 or e-mail TempePopUp@gmail.com. For more information, visit the Supper Facebook page.
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As of Friday night, Andario still hadn't decided on a menu for next week, but whatever it is you can pretty much bet it will be fresh, both literally and figuratively. And cross your fingers for more salami.