Dom Ruggiero, formerly the executive chef at Chelsea’s Kitchen and other LGO hospitality restaurants, more recently a butcher at The Meat Market in Cave Creek, will open a restaurant this month with Charles Barber. Barber has been the head barman at Zinc Bistro in north Scottsdale for many years. Ruggiero has taken on meat-focused projects unique for a chef in the Valley.
Notably, he smokes meat in a 500-gallon offset smoker, one that he had custom-made from an old propane tank by a Los Angeles welder popular in SoCal barbecue circles. Using this smoker, he makes bacon for The Meat Market. Ruggiero smokes some exciting meats for events, like porchetta and beef tongue. He also makes his own charcuterie, including fennel-spiked finocchiona and the pork jowl salumi known as guanciale.
Ruggiero, a veteran of the culinary scene, has never owned his own restaurant. At Hush, which will have its soft opening later this month, he will be a co-owner with Barber, meaning he’ll have far fewer restrictions on his cooking.
“It will be a little bit of everything,” he says. “Without me having to work for somebody else, I can do my own food. There’s going to be more Italian.”
He says, of course, that his smoker and from-scratch salumi will be involved.
Currently under construction, Hush will be a 44-seat restaurant. It is on North Scottsdale Road in North Scottsdale, not too far south of Kierland Commons, right by The Rooster Tavern. The food will be New American, a term that doesn’t really mean anything and allows for great flexibility. Shared plates. Some 12 to 15 dishes to start.
The kitchen will be wide open, with Ruggiero and his squad cooking at stoves behind the same bar that Barber and his drink team will work. “It’s kind of a shotgun-style building,” Ruggiero says. “It’s just one long room that goes back. The bar takes up most of one side with the kitchen right behind it.”
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Many of the 44 seats will be at the bar. There will only be a handful of tables.
Ruggiero, who grew up in the neighborhood that will house his restaurant, is looking to open “a cool native spot.” Given some of the unique things he’s doing, this looks to be one of early 2019’s promising restaurant openings.
”We’re two native Arizonans,” he says. “It’s the beginning of something bigger.