Happy Hour

VirtĂș Honest Craft in Scottsdale: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Virtú Honest Craft 3701 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale 480-946-3477 www.virtuscottsdale.com

See Also: - Spoke & Wheel in Sunnyslope: Happy Hour Report Card - Gio Osso of Virtu on the Ungers, Beau Mac and the Unnecessary Hype Around Farm-to-Table - Chefs, What Are Your Three Favorite Local Products Right Now?

The Hours: Happy Hour is offered Tuesday through Saturday from 4 until 6 p.m.

The Interior: Old Town Scottsdale has some of the best restaurants in the Valley tucked away off Fifth Avenue, Stetson Drive, and Marshall Way. Joining the ranks of FnB and Citizen Public House, Virtú Honest Craft is a small, modest modern cafe that's serving up some of Phoenix's most delicious eats. The bar and dining room seat about 25 people tops, so be sure to make a reservation quick before word gets out about the little joint in the Bespoke Inn. Everything from the perfectly printed chalkboards to the rosemary-and-twine-centric place settings set the tone of a simple, yet classy, experience.

The Food: Dubbed as the "Outspoken Hour," Virtú's happy hour has some truly gourmet options between $4 and $6 with serious Mediterranean flair. Glimpses of Spain, Italy, and Greece pepper the 10-item menu of different small plates. The ricotta salata spread ($4) with lemon oil and pepper is served in a mason jar on a wood block with accompanying charred crostini. The burnt pieces of bread, generously oiled, pair perfectly with the creamy, tangy ricotta and bright lemon flavor. Our only gripe is the crostini-to-smear ratio was ricotta-heavy, leaving us with a healthy dollop of the tasty cheese with nothing to accompany it.

The pork speidini was next, a grilled skewer of lean pork with a garlic tapenade-like sauce filled with bits of soppresata and olives. While the sauce was stellar, it played too minor of a role in the dish for our liking. Plus, the pork didn't really sing out in the dish as such and could've easily been replaced with chicken. Finally, we tried the papas croquetas filled with ham and manchego cheese. The lightly breaded velvety mashed potatoes encased the melty manchego and ham in the most cravable way. We have a strong feeling Chef Gio Osso's going to keep getting a lot of positive buzz with dishes like these.

The Drink: Speaking of buzz, "bar chef" Clint Spotleson mixes up some great drink options during the Outspoken Hour. Along with $5 glasses of red and white wine, you can try out four Virtú signature cocktails, which are all only $6. The Virtu Starter Kit is a citrus-y take on a martini base with Plymouth gin and vermouth stirred together on the rocks with grapefruit bitters and lemon soda. For whiskey fans, the absinthe-laden sazerac is a sweet and strong drink served up with a zest to garnish.

The Conclusion: Great food, delicious drinks, knowledgeable service, and a quiet, relaxing, and comfortable atmosphere -- you really can't ask for more than that out of a happy hour. With very reasonable pricing, it's easy to get caught up and order way more than you can even eat, so bring a friend. While we did have a couple very minor issues with the dishes, overall everything was pretty darn near perfect.

Grade: A

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Heather Hoch is a music, food, and arts writer based in Tucson. She enjoys soup, scotch, Electric Light Orchestra, and walking her dog, Frodo.
Contact: Heather Hoch