Dominic Armato is a big-time overachiever. Not only does he do voiceovers for tv and video games, he also manages his family's packaging business in Chicago (night job), he's a full-time stay-at-home dad (day job) and finds time to write a delightful food blog Skillet Doux. Skillet Doux contains lovely photographs with descriptive and engaging reviews of Armato's meals around (and out of) town. It's no wonder it was a finalist for Saveur's Best Food Blogs Awards this year. He claims to have "slept once in 2008," but we don't believe him. Even though he's only been here a year and a half, he's created a day of eating that "makes Phoenix feel like home." Here's Dominic Armato's perfect food day: Breakfast: I'm not much of a breakfast guy. I love it when I eat it, but I get out for breakfast so rarely that I'm still not that familiar with the valley's breakfast scene. I'm far more likely to pull something leftover out of the fridge, and there's nothing better than leftover Chinese for breakfast, particularly when it's some fried noodles from China Magic Noodle House. They get great texture on those noodles, and I find them surprisingly satisfying at 7:00 in the morning.
Lunch: I'm always going to be a Chicago boy at heart, so when lunchtime rolls around there's little I enjoy more than the grossly underappreciated Italian Beef sandwich, and I just recently found a killer version at Chicago's Taylor Street in Tempe. The ex-Quizno's interior doesn't exactly scream Chicago beef shack, but Joel, who runs the place, makes a mean sandwich. He roasts and slices the beef daily, pairs it up with sweet sautéed peppers and a vinegary and hot giardiniera and, at your request (request it!!!), dunks it in a tub of seasoned beef juice with enough olive oil to make the whole thing a huge mess. It'd be an excellent sandwich in Chicago to say nothing of Phoenix, and it's a much-needed taste of home for me here.
Between meal snacks: If I'm cruising the west side and looking for a snack, I can't think of a better pit stop than Tacos Atoyac. Everything there is good, but for just a couple of bucks you can grab a couple of tacos made with an unusual amount of care for a little corner taqueria. I'm a fan of the lengua or the Campechano when I'm feeling meaty. The seasonings and textures are always just perfect. And if I'm not feeling the meat, they do a fabulous Baja-style fish taco, with hot and crisp fried swai, shredded cabbage and a seasoned crema. Killer stuff, dirt cheap, and the folks running the place are incredibly friendly.
Dinner: Dinner's at the Italian restaurant I've been seeking for a decade and finally found here in Andreoli. Some folks are turned off by the fact that it's a counter service grocery/cafe, and others are intimidated by a roomful of guys watching soccer and conversing loudly in Italian, but that's really a shame because Giovanni, who runs the place, is a freaking food savant who would be a culinary rock star if there were any justice in this world. He makes his own cheese, he cures his own meats, he bakes his own bread, he produces his own desserts, and everything that comes out the kitchen is simple, traditional and perfect. I eat almost exclusively off the white board that changes daily, and for dinner I'm starting with a pasta... any pasta... and finishing with some kind of grilled seafood. Calamari, gamberoni, branzino... there's rarely more than olive oil, salt and maybe a fresh herb involved, and yet somehow it always comes out as the best seafood I've eaten all year.
I don't sleep, so I eat out late a lot, which is tough in a town where all of the Korean BBQ shuts down at 10:00 (or earlier), but I've become a regular at Posh's late night on Wednesdays. Josh always throws together a couple of great dishes, and there's nothing better than any given week's spin on his brûléed foie gras for dessert. But even better than the food - which is excellent - it's always a chill crowd hanging out at the counter with Josh, screwing around, having a drink, talking food and restaurants and such because, you know, I don't do enough of that as it is.