By Michele Laudig
Economy be damned, somebody's still got the confidence to open their doors! Now hopefully customers will keep coming out to spend some dough. (Me? I'd subsist on pretzels if it meant I could still eat foie gras.)
Anyway, I just got a call from the ever-charming Maurizio Benforte from Pizza A Metro, who finally opened Amarone, his swanky Italian spot up in North Scottsdale (9011 E. Via Linda; 480-391-2222). He's turning out the same fantastic pizzas, bread, and luscious homemade pastas that you'll find at his humble Thomas Road eatery, only with more upscale, neighborhood-appropriate items on the menu like lobster and lamb shank. Amarone is open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Friday, and dinner only on Saturday and Sunday.
Nearly two weeks ago, restaurateur Karl Kopp opened up Hanny's (40 N. 1st St.; 602-252-2285), the downtown Phoenix counterpart to his popular Scottsdale watering hole, AZ88. Located in a renovated 1946 building, it's named after a men's clothing store that used to be there. The menu is fairly streamlined -- half a dozen "Roman-style" pizzas baked in a 600 degree stone oven, appetizers like bruschetta and shrimp wrapped in pancetta, and a handful of salads and sandwiches. There's also beer, wine, and cocktails, including the Pimm's Cup (something you don't find very often).
Last Thursday, a new Cameron Mitchell supper club called Ocean Prime (which also has locations in Florida and Detroit, Michigan) debuted at the brand-new CityNorth development (5455 E. High St.; 480-347-1313). As its name suggests, it's all about seafood and steaks -- Diver scallops with green beans and mustard cream; New York strip with green peppercorn and cognac sauce -- as well as fancy side dishes and eight different kinds of potatoes.
It's just a yogurt shop, but a self-serve frozen yogurt place called Yogurtini just set up shop in Tempe's Cornerstone complex (Rural and University). They have 10 kinds of yogurt and more than 50 kinds of toppings, both typical (granola, fruit) and unexpected (Sriracha? Jalapenos?).
And on Monday, Sam Fox will open a stylish modern Mexican place called Blanco Tacos + Tequila at the Borgata in Scottsdale (6166 N. Scottsdale Rd.); the original location is in Tucson, and the menu here should be similar, with nine kinds of tacos, half a dozen different cheese crisps (calling Seth Chadwick!), ceviche, and many, many kinds of tequila. Look for Jonathan McNamara's report on the preview dinner, coming soon.