You might think chef's boards are a fail-safe option on any restaurant menu, but the truth is, not all combinations of meat, cheese, and accoutrements are created equally.
Cellophane-wrapped meat straight out of the supermarket, subpar bread, and low-quality fixings might do in a hurry, but with the right meaty, spreadable, curable delights (even a flourish of figgy jam and a marinated sprig of asparagus) you've got a board that offers indulgent bites of personalized perfection.
Now that you’re in the mood for a good charcuterie board, here’s the real meat and cheese of this story — the best boards in town.
The key to building a badass chef’s board is finding just the right mix of flavors, textures, colors, and crunches so you swoon as soon as it arrives at the table and crush even harder the more you nibble — and North Italia delivers. The chefs don’t just select the provisions, they do much of the handiwork, too. The prosciutto di Parma is expertly sliced next to marinated eggplant, roasted peppers, and Castelvetrano olives — plus artisan cheese and Marcona almonds.
Quiessence at The Farm
6106 South 32nd Street
This is sex on a board. This is the real deal. It has everything to do with an affinity for seasonal ingredients, scratch-made preparation, and symmetry of sapidity, and is unmatched. At Quiessence at the Farm, the pork is house-cured and offered ingeniously: Lonza topped with plum preserve, pistachio, and fresh basil, head cheese with a dehydrated apple chip and pickled shallot, and coppa served solo in spicy bites. There are also house-made raisins, picked watermelon rind, salt-cured strawberries, cubes of savory apple butter, walnuts drizzled with local honey, pickled veggies from right next door, creamy mounds of chèvre, and salty cubes of feta from Black Mesa Ranch. You just might need a cigarette after this one.
Second Story Restaurant & Liquor Bar
4166 North Scottsdale Road, #102, Scottsdale
If you can handle your chef’s board with a side of snobbery, Second Story is your place: A Rat Pack meets Meghan Trainor upscale speakeasy above The Gelato Spot in Old Town. If you make it past the hostess manning the door (reservations are preferred, apparently), you enter a world of whiskey, leather, and ambient lighting. Served up on a slate turntable, the chef’s board has the same buttoned-up panache as the bartenders and the same substance behind the style. The soppressata is saltier and denser than any cured meat you’ve nibbled before, the drunken cherry mostarda will get you drunk with delight, the marbled black truffle cheese is a revelation, and the pickled caper berries make all the flavors sing.
Sorso Wine Room
15323 North Scottsdale Road, #150, Scottsdale
Epic. That’s the simplest way to sum up Sorso's Grande Charcuterie, an “ambitious” platter of meats, cheeses, olives, nuts, and jam, a something-for-everyone shared plate that can satiate both heroic appetites and discerning palates. No matter how you stack it — Felino salame with curly cues of P’tit Basque sheep’s milk from France, super-spreadable double-cream Brie with spicy chorizo, prosciutto di Parma with flavor-packed porter cheddar from Ireland — your taste buds will be singing. The supersize drinks menu follows suit, with 150 bottles of wine, 32 self-serve wine dispensers, and craft beers aplenty. If you’re more into grazing then gobbling, they have a half-priced platter that’s less epic but equally as tasty.
Stock & Stable
5538 North Seventh Street
Given the restaurant’s name, it’s no wonder Stock & Stable's Salumi Board (the Italian word for cured pork or beef), is a feast of meat, a mosaic of salami, chorizo, perfectly marbled creminelli coppa, and salty soppressata with a generous side of cocktail sausages glazed in sticky sweet grape jelly. But chef Joe Absolor knows all that salty needs sweet, sour, and creamy for balance, so cured stuff comes with rosemary-crusted goat’s cheese, Gouda infused with potato chips, and pickled fruits and vegetables that’ll pop in your mouth. Who knew marinated melons could taste so good? And every bite tastes better with the scratch-made rhubarb-plum-cherry jam, even if it’s just mated with spongy Noble Bread.
1916 East Camelback Road
The Parlor gets points for its choose-your-own-adventure-type board. Diners get a checklist of meats, cheeses, and accompaniments ($5 each), and out comes a masterpiece of your making. Not that you do all the work. The real art comes in the menu, a carefully curated harmony of award-winning cheeses (the mustard-seed infused cheddar from England is the bomb), melt-in-your mouth meats, some with gourmet spins (the mortadella is infused with pistachios) and house-made extras (the spicy candied pecans are perfection). All of the above come with grilled bread and wood-fired flatbread drizzled in olive oil and a trio of herby, peppery, and pickled toppers that add zing to every bite.
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At the Gilbert and Scottsdale locations of Pomo Pizzeria, the Antipasto Italiano board is an ideal warm-up board to try before the Neapolitan pizzas arrive. The assorted cured meats, slices of Parmigiano, grilled veggies are neatly arranged on the board, which is also weighed down with some olives and fresh bread. It’s definitely pretty, and definitely worth an order for the table. They also have salumi and formaggi boards, but the Antipasto Italiano has a little something for all tastes.
The Sicilian Butcher
15530 North Tatum Boulevard
This northeast Valley Italian restaurant has dedicated an entire section of its menu to charcuterie boards — ranging in scope from the Mozzarella Board with burrata and mozzarella di buffalo to the Polenta Board to the Cured Meat & Cheese Board. However, The Sicilian Butcher is better known for its Sicilian in Strada board — a signature family favorite as they put it, which is served on a 5-foot-long board. Yes, 5 feet of board is loaded with polenta, house craft meatballs, artisanal meats and cheeses, pickled condiments and jams, and your traditional bruschetta. And they also require at least four people present to actually order the thing.
Tomaso’s on Camelback and Tomaso’s When in Rome
Calling for at least two guests, the Charcuterie Board of Antipasto at both locations of Tomaso’s — Tomaso’s When in Rome and Tomaso’s on Camelback — offers an array of fun stuff to pick over with a partner. Picture a rounded wood plate adorned with eggplant caponata, pickled condiments, bruschetta, prosciutto, salumi, artisan cheeses, colorful olives, and roasted bell peppers. It’s a real adventure.
Tuck Shop Kitchen & Bar
2245 North 12th Street
Tuck Shop's Charcuterie Board has "work of art" written all over it. The wooden paddle canvas is a palette of pastel green, red, olive, and orange thanks to piled-high stacks of delicately shredded sage Derby, smoked Gouda, Spanish chorizo and prosciutto, plus olives, almonds, house-made red pepper hummus and a green apple sliced like a Frank Gehry staircase. The whole thing is finished off with Jackson Pollock-like drizzles of olive oil and fresh crushed pepper. The cheeses are a tad one-note, but what the board lacks in bite, it more than makes up for in presentation. However, every day is different, and you’re encouraged to ask your server for the daily selection of cheese and meats.