BEST SPIN-OFF RESTAURANT 2007 | Vincent's Market Bistro | Food & Drink | Phoenix
Lauren Saria
The ratatouille omelette at Vincent's Market Bistro.
No, you really can't have too much of a good thing. Chef Vincent Guerithault clearly knew he had a winning formula with his long-running Saturday market, which takes place during nonsummer months in the parking lot outside of his eponymous fine-dining establishment. So, a few years ago, taking the idea a step further, he opened Vincent's Market Bistro, right on the same property, giving fans of the market — and folks who weren't up for a fancy feast next door — the chance to enjoy casual French fare all year long. Serving breakfast, lunch, early dinner, and weekend brunch, the kitchen turns out lovely salads, grilled fish and meat prepared Provenal-style, perfect omelets, and traditional dishes like tartiflette (a baked crock full of potatoes, Reblochon cheese, onions, ham, and bacon), as well as classic coq au vin. Complimentary croissants and dessert are thoughtful touches that turn any meal here into a delightful occasion.
Jacob Tyler Dunn
Just because it's gourmet doesn't mean it's pretentious. On the contrary, Pizzeria Bianco's menu is streamlined and simple, with only six kinds of pizza and 10 add-ons. These rustic pies don't try to show off with outlandish combinations of exotic toppings. Instead, they're all about the best, freshest ingredients available, from handmade mozzarella to local, organic vegetables. And the crust? Just incredible, the perfect balance between crisp and chewy. Chef-owner Chris Bianco mans the wood-fired oven himself, so every pizza's up to par. Clearly, the guy's turned pizza-making into a Zen art, and that's why foodies from across the country are clamoring to get here. Among locals, though, Pizzeria Bianco's surprisingly controversial — besides crowds of adoring fans, there are plenty of folks who get their panties in a bunch about the lengthy wait (sometimes an hour or two, sometimes three or more). "Why should we wait that long for pizza when we can get something just as good in our own 'hood?" they say. Well, we've tried all the alternatives, and though there's plenty of decent pizza in these parts, none of it could take the place of Bianco's distinctive pies. There's just no comparison. And really, the wait ain't so bad if you go next door to Bar Bianco for a cheese plate and a bottle of wine. At least there's hope of getting a table if you hang out long enough. Just imagine if Pizzeria Bianco required reservations — then the waiting list would probably be a month or two! We can't stand the thought.
Back East, there's no shortage of great little local joints where you can grab a quick slice or two, suck down a soda, and get on with your day. But for some reason, the Valley's got a severe shortage in that department. (Sure, there's plenty of pizza to be found, as long as you're hungry for a whole pie.)

Good thing there's Mamma Mia, a fast, friendly pizzeria with just a handful of seats and a small counter in front of the brick oven.

Of course, they have whole pizzas, subs, strombolis and pastas, too, but we can't think of a better place for a cheap, tasty slice when we're in a hurry.

Run by New Jersey natives, Mamma Mia serves up an exemplary piece of pizza, with a thin, crisp crust, primo sauce with a bit of tomatoey sweetness, and just the right amount of cheese, all bubbly and lightly browned. Every neighborhood should have a spot like this.

Does the absence of red sauce on a pizza make any difference? You bet it does. White pizza's a class unto itself — a distinctly craveable dish that seems simple, but is hard to find done as beautifully as Miele's fine pie. Here, the crust is crisp and flavorful, thin but still sturdy enough to hold a gooey, bubbly layer of melted mozzarella dotted with globs of creamy ricotta. A few delicate shreds of fresh basil add an aromatic touch that complements the subtle flavors of the cheese, and there's enough garlic on there to make your tongue tingle. While our pizza's still in the oven, we usually start off with an order of Miele's doughy, hot-out-of-the-oven garlic knots, just to get in the mood. Sure, they're filling, but once the white pizza arrives, we get lost in garlicky bliss. How blissful, you ask? Well, let's just say that we've never had to worry about leftovers from Miele's.
Jamie Peachey
Most of the time, we can behave ourselves at restaurants, politely munching on an appetizer that we'd rather inhale, or discreetly digging into an entree that we feel like shoveling into our mouth. Not when it comes to burgers, though. When we get our hands around a good one, all attempts at civility fall by the wayside, and our primal instincts go into overdrive. Please forgive us if hot juices are dribbling down our chin when we sink our teeth into a thick, juicy beef patty — at times like that, we can't be bothered with a napkin, especially when it's The Orange Table's ridiculous Arrogant Bastard Rustler cheeseburger. That's right. They use a splash of our favorite craft brew, Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale, to simmer a half-pound of ground Angus, which they slather with mayo and barbecue sauce, then top with melted provolone, bacon, and veggies. As an extra bonus, they give you the nearly full bottle of brewski for just three bucks more. But one word of caution: don't order the beer before the burger, unless you're ready to drink another round. The squeaky-clean staff at Orange Table won't take your back-washed beer back to the kitchen once you've started drinking. You'll have to order a fresh one. Ah, the sacrifice . . .
David Holden
Joe's Farm Grill's Fresh as Can Be Fontina Burger
Nothing goes better with a juicy Fontina burger or a grilled all-beef hot dog than a good basket of fries, and at Joe's Farm Grill — a Jetsons-esque eatery with its own organic farm, located in East Gilbert's Agritopia community — they've turned fry-making into an art-form. Cooked in trans-fat-free oil, Joe's standard-issue fries are crisp and light, a tribute to all that's tasty about a potato. But what really keeps us coming to this far corner of the Valley are the variations: fries smothered in homemade chili and a handful of cheddar cheese; baked potato fries done up in sour cream, cheese, chives and crumbled bacon; addicting sweet potato fries with chunky pineapple-serrano dipping sauce; and the most garlicky garlic fries the Valley's ever seen. Tossed with olive oil, herbs, and pecorino romano, these potent potatoes will keep the vampires at bay for at least a week.
Chicken wings are just an afterthought at so many restaurants, often buried in a list of run-of-the-mill starters like mozzarella sticks or fried jalapeños. That's why we head to Long Wong's when we have a real hankering for them. Here, wings are the star of the menu — no mere appetizer, but the main dish itself. The people at Long Wong's understand wings, which means they totally get why a big pile of six or 10 of these babies equals a meal to us. Fried to a golden crisp, and still moist inside, we're happy to eat 'em unadorned, but the sauces are just too good to pass up. We're keen on honey hot and garlic parmesan cheese, but we also love the classic, tangy hot sauce. Beyond mild, medium, and hot, Long Wong's bumps up the heat level another notch with addicting, deliciously brutal "suicide" sauce. If you catch us chowing down on wings at Wong's, don't worry if you see us looking a little teary-eyed. Those are tears of joy.
Molly Smith
We knew these were our new favorite onion rings when we polished off a whole plate in a matter of minutes. Most restaurants are heavy-handed with the fried coating, which fills us up after we eat just a few. But Sonora Brewhouse does 'em differently, more like tempura than breaded bar snacks. These oversized rings are dipped in hefeweizen batter that's surprisingly light when it comes out of the fryer — puffy and moist on the inside, crisp and golden on the outside — and brings out the sweetness of the onion itself. Served with creamy homemade ranch dip, they're the perfect partner for a cold pint of pale ale. Don't be shocked if you find yourself ordering another plate when you order another round of drinks.
Courtesy of A Touch of European Cafe
An antiques shopping spree in historic Glendale just doesn't feel complete without a pit stop at A Touch of European Café, a darling BYOB with a handful of tables inside and out. The hearty Polish fare is just the fuel we need when we're trawling for treasures, and reasonable menu prices satisfy our bargain-hunting urge. Fresh kielbasa, stuffed cabbage, and garlicky pork goulash often tempt us here, but we can hardly resist the pierogies, a plateful of doughy boiled dumplings pan-fried in butter. We especially like 'em filled with potato or sauerkraut, with plenty of sour cream on the side. Sure, this comfort food seems better-suited to an Eastern European winter than a Sonoran summer, but you'd be surprised at how much they hit the spot, even in August. After a long day shivering in too much air-conditioning, a steaming plate of pierogies is the best way to thaw out.
Benjamin Leatherman
We get the urge to cross the pond whenever we see a British Airways jet flying out of Sky Harbor, but instead of splurging on a plane ticket, we usually just cruise over to George & Dragon for a taste of jolly old England. The place is buzzing with beer-fueled spirit, from the lively crowd at the bar to the focused blokes playing darts and pool. A few TVs, a rockin' jukebox, and tons of colorful banners get us in the mood to party with the expats, and a platter of fish and chips only adds to the Brit flavor. George & Dragon's version is gloriously gut-filling, with a slab o' fish that takes up half the plate. Coated in a crisp, golden batter, the firm-fleshed fish is deliciously moist. As for the chips, they're hefty and not too greasy, cut thickly enough to keep the insides fluffy. Round things off with a side of creamy coleslaw, and we're ready for a pint — or three.

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