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Jackie Mercandetti Photo

Hush Public House

The emergence of Hush as one of the most exciting places to eat in metro Phoenix is the product of many melding influences. Like Chef Dom Ruggiero's signature oxtail-centric riff on a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich, molten with cheese and showered with soulful giardiniera, all the elements here come together harmoniously. First, there's Charles Barber, captain of the classic-leaning cocktail program and the genuine general manager highly visible at the front of the long, warm, rectangular dining room. Then there's the room itself: intimate, filled with cordial chatter and nostalgic rock, cooking sounds and smells washing out from a wide-open kitchen. It all primes you for Ruggiero's food. The chef, formerly of La Grande Orange-owned restaurants like Chelsea's Kitchen (and lately of the tiny Carefree butcher The Meat Market), cooks New American food with finesse, character, and soul. There are the crab-perfumed hushpuppies to start, plus grilled slab bacon, a cauliflower steak with harissa that will haunt your daydreams, and a chicken liver mousse with seeming miles of depth. The menu changes a lot, sure, but what doesn't change is the kitchen's stunning facility with vegetables, fish, and meat. Being a butcher, Ruggiero can nail a flatiron steak. Being a barbecue guy, he can smoke mean beef ribs. But being a Renaissance man in the kitchen, he can plate glorious swordfish steaks or ceviche, plus simple plant-driven dishes like hard-cheese-showered snap peas that honor their name. New Normal: Reservations are required and can be made via Tock. Call ahead for larger parties and takeout orders.

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