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We never thought we'd pay $19 for a plate of old-fashioned spaghetti and meatballs and be happy about it. But that's before we discovered the soul-satisfying dish at Tarbell's. This is a full-flavored feast, starring a vibrant marinara made with organic tomatoes (yes, you can taste the difference) and hefty, beefy orbs. Plus, Tarbell's hip, beautiful-people atmosphere comes with the meal at no extra charge. When we've had a rough day, we like to snuggle up at the always happening bar and drown our sorrows in spaghetti. Works every time.
At Via DeLosantos, it's pronounced albóndigaaaahs.
At the charming brick and mural-adorned Rustico, we find joy as we bite into a mild-toned domestic mushroom, the fat cap exploding with juices and earthy nuance. What delight as we discover a secret chamber, bursting with fresh herbs and shrimp. And what pleasure as we scoop it all up with ladles of impossibly rich creamy garlic sauce. Bread! We need more bread right away -- to sop every last drip of this gilding.
Ah, Rustico. The only pig required for this marvelous mushroom dish is us.
That's because this sandwich is always delicious, enjoyed in the cozy little refurbished home set with rummage-sale furniture, or taken to go, wrapped in foil to keep the meal hot. It helps that it's huge, layering thick slabs (really, not wimpy slices) of peppered turkey pastrami and provolone with romaine, tomato, German kraut and stone-ground mustard-horseradish sauce on springy focaccia. This meal subdues the meanest of appetites, presented with a choice of homemade soup, Poore Brothers' chips or fresh fruit.
For cranky comfort food, Capitol Coffee Co. is our choice. And we mean that.
The gyro meat has a great supporting cast, too. Every fluffy, golden-toned round of Jim's pita bread is baked on-site, his tomatoes are fresh and ruby red, and his purple onion curls lend crunch under a cap of crumbly imported feta that literally melts on our tongues. We slather it all in homemade jajiki, a smooth, tangy cucumber yogurt sauce.
And when we're craving variety, Jim's got other gyro-style feasts, include the picado pita (gyro with grilled onion, green peppers and jalapeo), steak (extra lean NY with grilled onions, pepper and cheese), and chicken (charbroiled breast with Greek seasonings and served three ways).
Crazy Jim's has our vote. We'd be insane to go anywhere else.
We don't kid around with cheesecake. Our perfect piece has got to be huge, thick and creamy. It's got to be good enough to go naked, not hiding under heaps of syrupy cherries or chocolate. That's why we love the rich New York model served here. Sure, they've got some fancier cakes, like the mocha seduction, with fluffy mocha cheesecake plopped on a mouth-watering brownie bed, then topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzles. Or the chocolate eruption, blending chocolate cake with cheesecake chunks and nuts. They've got cute, too, with little cheesecakes on a stick they call Teddy Bars. But in their hearts, they stay true to honest, cheesecake quality.
Cave Creek Coffee and cheesecake -- mission accomplished.
The array, which changes daily, is dizzying. We can pretty much count on our most cherished creation, though: the B-52 torte, spanning three layers of rich truffle cream, one layer with Baileys Irish Cream, one with Grand Marnier, and one with Kahlúa, topped with crushed pistachios. The Adult Kit-Kat gives us sweet dreams with its crunchy hazelnut chocolate bottom and a lighter chocolate top dusted with dark French cocoa. And we swear by the Viennese walnut torte, splicing two layers of walnut frangipani with a layer of cheesecake in the middle, masked in a currant glaze and topped with fresh strawberries.
Partnered with glasses of fine dessert and port wines, RoxSand's desserts are the sweetest sensation we know.