Chef News

Chris Costantino of Costantino's Kitchen (Part Two)

Chef Chat this week has brought you into Costantino's Kitchen, where Chris Costantino is cooking up small, handmade batches of his Grandma Angie's Tomato Basil Sauce.

On Monday, we talked about how he broke into the culinary world from his past corporate life, and got the scoop on the sauce that's been in his family for five generations.

Today, we ask him to weigh in on the Phoenix food scene and where he envisions his career in the food business will go.

You mentioned yesterday that you'd like to have an Italian market someday. Where did you get that inspiration?

Originally, I'm from Wyoming. That's where I grew up, and there's a little place in Salt Lake City called The Mediterranean, which is exactly that. As a kid that's kind of what I wanted to do. I mean, here we have DeFalco's down in Scottsdale and that's sort of like that . . . there's a few out there but not a ton. Not like Italian restaurants, where there's a dime a dozen.

So, do you try to stay in touch with the food scene?

Yeah, I write a blog and I like to talk about restaurants. Once a month, I try to do a "review." I've eaten at most of the four diamond restaurants -- still haven't been to Kai, the only five diamond restaurant, so that's a goal. But, yeah, I think the Phoenix restaurant scene is definitely advancing. Especially talking to people who have been here for many, many years. It's even expanding out of Scottsdale. Scottsdale used to be the only place you could get good restaurants.

What was the last time you were really impressed by a restaurant here?

The most "wow" I've even gotten at a restaurant was probably Binkley's. I mean, you get so many little mini courses that you don't expect. It's not like, a sloppy joe, it's like the tiniest little course. Everything's fantastic. That was fairly recent but not the most recent. Also Tuscany at Desert Ridge, that was really good.

What's your favorite Food Network show?

There are two shows I really like: Alton Brown's Good Eats, and then I like -- it's actually Cooking Channel technically -- but Bitchin' Kitchen. It's hilarious. She is so funny. She's Italian, and I think it takes place in Canada, but she's just funny and her food seems really good too.

I've been to three Diners, Drive Ins and Dives restaurants here in town and I wasn't wowed by a single one of them. Over Easy, wasn't wowed by that. La Piazza Al Forno -- good pizza, not great. And Chino Bandido I thought was horrible.

On Wednesday, we'll have Costantino's recipes for pasta salad and lasagna.

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria

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