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Chow Bella's 9 Most Dramatic Moments in the Phoenix Food Scene in 2012

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Oh, the drama in the Phoenix food scene. Don't lie -- you live for it. So do we. And while there was nothing quite like the Tina's Ethiopian Cafe Debacle of 2011, 2012 did include quite a few over-the-top gems. Let's take a stroll down memory lane together, shall we?

See also: - Everybody's a Critic, But Some Are Better Than Others. And Yeah, That Smarts. - Chow Bella's 9 Most Dramatic Moments in the National Food (and Drink) Scene in 2012 - What Will the Top Food Trends for Phoenix Be in 2013?

Chris Bianco Changes Up the Kitchen at Italian Restaurant, But Is That Enough?

What, trouble in the Bianco Empire? Say it isn't so! Or better yet, come sit by us and let's dish. This spring, the locals were bitching and moaning over so-so service at Chris Bianco's latest addition, Italian Restaurant. Nikki Buchanan had something to say about it.

Bianco insists that it wasn't a bad review that prompted the split (our own Laura Hahnefeld wrote a positive "First Taste" column in January), but there's no doubt word on the street has been mixed. I've heard personally from more than one unhappy diner. On social media, reports are that service is horrible, and the portions are small for the price, although the latter complaint is contested by a handful of food-lovers who say they've left Italian Restaurant full and happy.

These same people have sworn the house-made pasta is terrific. One of them is John Mariani, who visited Phoenix last week while on assignment for Esquire magazine. Not that his experience was entirely sanguine. In a phone interview, he adds, "The place was more than half-empty when we got there, and the service was lackluster, at best."

Lackluster service? For John Mariani?? I've been on restaurant visits with this guy, and the service he receives is accommodating to the point of painful obsequiousness. So if Italian Restaurant's servers can't muster up a smidge of hustle and good cheer for a national writer, God knows how the Average Joe is being treated.

Bianco has some work to do, and he knows it. The arrogant you're-lucky-to-be-eating-here attitude some of his servers portray should be Job One. And if he does the food he loves, we'll probably love it, too. -- Nikki Buchanan

See also: - Bianco's Italian Restaurant: Low-Key, Fabulous Food, and Sipping the Olive Oil Is Acceptable - Chris Bianco Finds New Chef (Who Shares His Philosophy) for Italian Restaurant

Citizen Espresso Bar Owner Calls it Quits; Letter Says She Was Forced By Her Investor/Mom to Leave

Keeping it all in the family was perhaps not the wisest decision for this espresso pulling duo....

Here's one family table we'll consider ourselves fortunate not to be sitting at over the holidays.

Tiffany Dew, owner and operator of Citizen Espresso Bar, has called it quits. The reason? She says it's her investor, Sherry Dew, who also happens to be her mom.

Dew purchased the coffee shop on Central Avenue just south of Camelback in February. Formerly Lola Coffee, where Dew was a longtime employee, she changed the name to Citizen Espresso Bar and continued to use Lola's house-roasted beans but brought in changes of her own, such as a new espresso machine and making homemade baked goods on site.

Now, just over two months after opening, it appears the proverbial shit has hit the family fan.

Today, a letter was posted on Citizen Espresso Bar's Facebook page reading:

"This message is to let you all know that Tiffany and her incredible vision for Citizen Espresso Bar and our community is no longer.

As of last week, Tiffany was threatened and forced to leave her own coffee bar for the last time by her investor = mother.

The amazing morning team assembled has also been terminated and so has the in house baker and baked goods. Your new Citizen owner / operator will now be souring [sic] you fine Costco and Fry's baked goods a portion of the week.

Tiffany and I want to thank all of you for your support in what we truly felt was an amazing opportunity, vision, and concept for the community... and we were just getting started.

There is much to this disgusting story -- but for now know our hearts are broken by someone we trusted and approached to partner in the creation of Citizen.

Love, Tiffany and Mitzie" -- Laura Hahnefeld

See also: Mom/Owner of Citizen Espresso Bar Responds To Daughter's Facebook Accusations

Downtown Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar to Close May 12

We may never know the entire back story behind the decision to shutter the Downtown Phoenix Public Urban Grocery and Wine Bar -- but the news it was closing shook the local food scene hard.

Friday afternoon, Dan Klocke, board president of Community Food Connections -- the group that runs the Downtown Phoenix Public Urban Grocery and Wine Bar -- announced the grocery will close May 12.

Calls and messages Friday to executive director Cindy Gentry and others associated with the grocery have not been returned, but there's already a "Save the Market" Facebook page. -- Nikki Buchanan

Roosevelt Row's Tediberto's Has a Liquor License Problem

Vegan Mexican food? The mind boggles. And then the pot of beans plot thickened....

It's one of the worst kept secrets in the downtown Phoenix culture scene: Tediberto's, the vegan Mexican restaurant located along Roosevelt Row, has become a popular late-night hangout for artists, hipsters, trendy types, and party monsters.

And one of the big reasons the eatery, which opened in late June, has become so popular for late-night adventures is not just because it stays open until 3 a.m. or later on weekends or its unique cuisine. When we visited Tediberto's in the hours following the most recent First Friday art walk on August 3, the establishment was serving beer and booze, which New Times has learned was being done without a liquor license.

And it was being done after last call, when all establishments serving alcohol are required by Arizona law to stop selling liquor. When asked about this, the owner of Tediberto's had no comment. -- Benjamin Leatherman

See also: - Vegan Mexican Restaurant Owner Not Helping Stereotype of Vegans - Tediberto's Shut Down by Landlord

Is Barrio Cafe's Take on Mexican Food Authentic? And Does It Matter?

The original post on Barrio Cafe -- part of our "Eating 16th Street" series -- didn't make such a big splash, but a reaction piece from B.C. co-owner Sharon Salomon really heated up on social media -- including, we hear, some foot stamping and tantrum throwing on Facebook. Our advice: If you can't take the heat, stay out of Phoenix.

Barrio Café is a white tablecloth upscale restaurant. It's also a neighborhood joint for those of us who live close by but for most people, Barrio is a place to go for a special meal. No beans. No rice. No chimichangas. No chips. No comparison to anything in the Valley. In fact, it's the uniqueness of Barrio that has helped to make it popular. Barrio brought many "firsts" to the Valley. -- Sharon Salomon

See also: - Barrio Cafe: Good -- But Glorified -- Mexican Food

Fast Food Dump Continues at Seventh Avenue and McDowell, and It Stinks

Laura Hahnefeld really stepped in it -- in a good way, in our opinion -- when she shared her consternation over the mess that's been made of a once-wonderful intersection.

For those of you lamenting downtown's lack of exciting restaurant choices, please direct your attention for a moment to an arguably more disturbing development going on at ​the intersection of Seventh Avenue and McDowell Road -- an intersection that touches the F.Q. Story, Willo, and Encanto-Palmcroft historic districts -- and take a long, deep breath.

Smell that? That's the stench of the fast food dump developers are continuing to take in what could have been one of many different and more interesting solutions of what to do with this historic district intersection. In this case, favoring several national fast food chains over independent restaurant owners as a way to define "progress."

The latest victim? The My Florist building.-- Laura Hahnefeld

Peter Kasperski Considers Using FnB Name in San Diego

The news that FnB was moving was big. The news that the name might not follow them? Even bigger. There have been some signs on social media that FnB's owners don't intend to give up so easily (check out co-owner Pavle Milic's new tattoo) but we won't know for sure til the sign goes up next month. All we know is that this one stirred the pot, big time.

FnB fans were all atwitter 10 days ago after news broke that Charleen Badman and Pavle Milic were leaving Stetson Drive to move their beloved restaurant over to Craftsman Court.

The move made sense. Rent was cheaper and they'd have all their businesses under one roof. But then word got out that FnB's landlord, Peter Kasperski, was planning to keep the name FnB. That sounded a little crazy. First of all, Kasperski has two neighboring businesses with perfectly good names -- Cowboy Ciao and Kazimieriz World Wine Bar. Why would he want this one? And why would Badman and Milic -- who've worked hard to gain a national reputation for their little spot -- want to give it up?

Bottom line: Who owns the name? -- Nikki Buchanan

Screaming, Expletives, and, Eventually, Police: All in the First Night of Kitchen Nightmares Taping at Amy's Baking Company

When we heard Amy's Baking Company was going to be the setting for some national reality TV, we knew things were gonna get good. This was even better than expected.

Yelpers went nuts over the weekend -- and guess who was the topic? Amy Bouzaglo of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, who apparently cooked up a storm on Saturday.

In fact, I reached out to one diner who was at Saturday night's taping of Kitchen Nightmares at Amy's. He got a very real dose of reality television -- more than he bargained for, actually. -- Laura Hahnefeld

The Breadfruit's Dwayne Allen Takes Some of the Mystery Out of Food Network's Mystery Diners

It's no mystery to most of us that something's up with Mystery Diners -- the terrible reality show that plagued us this summer, filmed mostly in Phoenix area restaurants. There were lots of whispers about what really goes on -- and finally, one restaurant owner was brave enough to talk out loud.

Those of us who've subjected ourselves to the painfully bad acting on Food Network's Mystery Diners have suspected from the get-go that the so-called reality show is completely scripted.

Now Dwayne Allen of The Breadfruit takes us one step closer to unraveling the mystery behind this embarrassing farce, which has made a half dozen of our local bars and restaurants (not to mention the people who run them) look so woefully clueless we wonder that any of them have managed to stay in business five minutes. -- Nikki Buchanan

See also: - Kim Brennan of Big Earl's Greasy Eats Pushes Back Against Conservative Cave Creek Columnist, Defends Mystery Diners Episode and Plans White Trash Bash

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