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Dine Hard

Dinner and a movie will take on new meaning this February when Farrelli's Cinema Supper Club opens on Scottsdale Road north of Thunderbird. Set in an old-fashioned-style moviehouse, the restaurant will partner big-screen movies with upscale dining.

Stale popcorn and a box of Goobers? No way. Moviegoers at Farrelli's will feast on dishes like portabello and goat cheese croustette (herb-toasted baguettes), baked brie à l'orange, crab mousse, feta and roasted pepper bruschetta, Pacific Rim shrimp salad spiked with curry, and sirloin chili in a bread bowl. Watered-down fountain drinks? Not here. How about a martini or a nice glass of Pinot Grigio instead?

The gourmet cinema concept has been gaining popularity across the country. Los Angeles' Pacific Theaters offers cafe and bar service for viewers; and the franchised Cinema Grill, with 27 locations nationwide, feeds moviegoers snacks like chicken wings, pizza and sandwiches. The idea is a step up from moviehouses in Tokyo, which, while long allowing guests to bring full meals into their theaters, have yet to supply the meals themselves.

And the food should be good, too. Farrelli's is the brain child of Tom and Wendy Farrell, owners of the 14-year-old Farrelli's Catering in Phoenix. They're used to feeding finicky clients like MicroAge and Merrill Lynch.

Don't worry about balancing chicken with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, white wine and fresh Parmesan cheese on your knees, either. Farrelli's will sport tables, set against a retro-theme backdrop of draped velvet curtains and faux balconies.

The movies shown at Farrelli's won't be first-run. Selections are planned to include independent films, art films, film festival award winners, foreign films and movie classics such as The Maltese Falcon or Casablanca.

Movie tickets will be $6, appetizers $5 to $11, and entrees $12 to $22. And yes, Farrelli's will have popcorn -- albeit an upscale version topped with 24-seasoning garlic herb butter and Parmesan cheese.

Yes, Chef!: First we had chefs. Then, in the '90s, we elevated the creative cook's status to celebrity chefs. Now, The Restaurant Report, a newsletter for hospitality professionals and food connoisseurs, has raised the bar again, designating top national chefs as "Super Chefs." The report says Super Chefs are the trend of the '00s -- like supermodels, perhaps, but wearing toques instead of tank tops.

After Dinner Mint: The Cajun House, that Scottsdale hot spot for fashionable club hoppers, has opened a restaurant next door. Called the Jazz Room Grill, it offers spicy nibbles like Cajun popcorn (fried crawfish tails), gumbo, chicken and shrimp Creole, and Arcadian rigatoni with andouille sausage.

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