10 (Okay, 11) Best First Tastes of 2012 in Greater Phoenix

Thanks to hundreds of new restaurants opening in the Valley this year -- including a cozy artisan pizza shop in Scottsdale, a vegan bakery downtown, and a trio of cuisines in East Phoenix -- there was plenty to chew on when it came to First Tastes, our column of initial impressions.

See also: 9 Best New Restaurants of 2012 in Greater Phoenix

Featuring a variety of fare for various tastes and wallet sizes, this list has a little something for everyone. Find a favorite or two and pay them a visit in the new year.

Rusconi's American Kitchen

A round of applause for chef Michael Rusconi, who opened his new restaurant of seasonal and sustainable American fare in the middle of a chain-infested strip mall at the northeast corner of Tatum and Shea. With dishes like butternut squash ravioli and prickly pear braised red cabbage, the neighborhood has quickly caught on, leaving the likes of Panda Express and Corleone's in the dust. Read the First Taste here.

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Laura Hahnefeld
Contact: Laura Hahnefeld