Scottsdale's oldest restaurant, The Pink Pony, is nearly ready to ride again. After being closed since summer, the more than 60-year-old landmark restaurant will reopen at the end of this month -- and for those who are familiar with the old spot, the good news is that not everything will have changed.
True, the remodeled restaurant pretty much has been gutted. In fact, the only things still left from the original building are the natural wood bowstring trusses (visible thanks to an open ceiling) and the concrete floors and walls. And though the new menu, courtesy of executive chef Donald Fawcett, doesn't lean the way of a traditional steakhouse, you'll still be able to dig into a bone-in rib eye or a tenderloin filet.
The restaurant's new design aimed to incorporate some of the historical touches from the old Pink Pony, which was added to Scottsdale's Historic Register in 2004. For starters, those familiar wood doors, the ones with pink insets, have been incorporated into a collapsible wall that will enclose Pink Pony's new open patio. And when you enter the restaurant, you'll be able to look down and check out the original home plate from Scottsdale Municipal Stadium. It was a gift from the city to the Pink Pony's original owner, who donated the land on which the stadium was built.
There will be a few other throwbacks to the old restaurant (don't worry, they're still going to display the caricatures and other baseball memorabilia) but just about everything else is brand new. The new bar features an attractive zinc and marble top with a view of 24 taps and two TVs. Off the bar will be a small lounge area, in addition to a dining room with booths for seating. There's also a second dining area with the capability to seat up to 80 people that can be used as a private dining area. In the open kitchen, which you'll be able to check out from an eight- to 10-seat chef's table, there's a beautiful wood-fired oven where Fawcett will be turning out Neapolitan-style pizzas.
And speaking of the food, Chef Fawcett has created a menu of upscale New American cuisine for the new Pink Pony. There are a few fun surprises in there -- for example, the fried bologna sandwich -- but for the most part, there are plenty of familiar options, including housemade pretzels with fondue, slow-roasted pork belly, and a pizza with mushrooms and truffle oil. The menu will be seasonally sensitive and locally sourced as much as possible. Fawcett says if an ingredient isn't available locally he'll get it from somewhere in the States, with the ultimate goal of featuring only American products.
One of the more exciting options on the menu is the Debris pizza. Inspired by the Debris Po'Boy from Mother's Restaurant in New Orleans, the pizza will feature all the "debris" from other dishes on the menu including housemade Andouille sausage, duck bacon, pork belly, provolone, and Manchego cheese -- with an option to top it all off with a farm-fresh egg.
Fawcett, originally from Wisconsin, has been working in the Valley for the past eight years. And though you might not know his name, he's done time in the kitchen at some big-name spots with big-name chefs including at Metro with Matt Taylor, Caffe Boa with Payton Curry, Prado with Peter DeRuvo, and several of Sam Fox's restaurants -- most recently Little Cleo's in Phoenix.
On the drinks side of things, bar manager/mixologist Chris Rouns will oversee the operations. There's a menu of affordable cocktails ($9 each), mules ($7), and house-infused spirits ($6). The wine list includes Arizona's own Page Springs Mules Mistake Red available by the glass, as well as plentiful options for $7 or less. Of course, the by-the-bottle options reach well into the triple digits, for those who really wish to indulge.
Residents in northern Arizona already might have heard of the Pink Pony's new owner, Mark Shugrue, who owns a handful other restaurants in Sedona and Lake Havasu. Pink Pony is Shugrue's first restaurant in the Valley.
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The Pink Pony will have a soft opening next week. General manager Patrick Cawthorne says they'll be mostly holding friends and family events, though if customers come in, they certainly won't be turned away.
This post has been edited from its original version.