Rusconi's American Kitchen a Nice Add for Paradise Valley Neighborhood

All photos by Laura Hahnefeld.
Get This: Butternut Squash Ravioli
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Rusconi's American Kitchen
Location: 10637 North Tatum Boulevard
Open: Just over a week
Eats: American
Price: Between $11 and $30 per person

See also: Ex-Lon's Chef Michael Rusconi Opening Rusconi's American Kitchen in September

As of last week, fans of chef Michael Rusconi, whose former gigs include Lon's at the Hermosa Inn and the Royal Palms Resort, can finally pay the culinary expert known for his use of sustainable fare a visit at his new restaurant in Paradise Valley.

As well they should.

Like a rose between two thorns, Rusconi's American Kitchen sits between a Panda Express and a Corleone's in a busy strip mall at the northeast corner of Tatum and Shea. Given the amount of fast-casual eateries in the center, the locally owned restaurant seems already to have caught the attention of neighborhood diners looking for a meal sans fluorescent lights and an ordering counter.

And for those still on the fence, all one would have to do is open the door.

Pork belly with poblano glaze, creamy grits, and apple relish.
The aromas will hit you first. Heavy and soothing, they come from the restaurant's wood-burning grill used for many of Rusconi's American eats. If that isn't enough to get you to sit down, something on the small, seasonal menu might.

If you are not sick of pork belly just yet (I'm close), it is available as an appetizer ($9) with a poblano glaze, creamy grits, and an apple relish. I wish mine was a bit warmer and the poblano and apple relish flavors were bolder, but the chunk of meat was dead-on tender and the grits nice and thick.

Pork Osso Bucco
For large plates, there is a solid pork osso bucco ($16). Slow-roasted and lightly seasoned, its accompaniments of asparagus and garlic-heavy mashed potatoes are well-prepared and complement the dish's comfort factor, but most enjoyable is the prickly pear braised red cabbage. Slightly sweet and a bit crunchy, I found it to be the best part of the plate and went poking under the mashed potatoes with my fork in search of any stray bits that might have gotten away.

But the restaurant's standout entree might be its butternut squash ravioli ($15). Inside three large pillows of homemade pasta, the butternut squash is wonderfully fresh and flavorful. If you're looking for a dish to bring in the fall season at Rusconi's, this one might be it.

Location Info

Rusconi's American Kitchen

10637 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

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My Voice Nation Help

Have to write about our experience tonight, we are usually regulars at the restaurants over at Tatum and Shea and we were curious about this one in particular, we arrived (party of 5) wanting to have happy hour and committed to the waiter that we were also going to have dinner. The bar was half full and we had a 5 year old so we were seated at the " kitchen staff table" which is the only communal table they have. We requested to have happy hour there while the rest of put party arrived for dinner, we were denied happy hour while seating 2 feet away from the bar area. We then moved lot the bar and we added a stool for our 5 year old, but then the bartender told us we could not seat there with out 5 year old because it was "Friday night and they needed the space" the hostess called the manager to ask him if we could have happy hour at out table, manager came out, took a look at us and denied it.... Turned out to be too complicated and too much work, the staff was not accommodating so we left the place and promised to pass along our experience as much as we can, we certainly DO NOT WANT this type of restaurants in our neighborhood !!! We are regulars at Nicks for happy hour (across the street) and we have never been denied service we cause we have a 5 year old with us, he can sit at the bar with us with no problem. If it was way over and past 9:00 pm, I could understand their politics but it was 5:00. Manager of the place is pretentious, and the place might look nice but their service varies depending on who is requesting it. I would much recommend going next door or to my Greek fat Greek restaurant. YOU matter more on those places. I really hope they close out soon!

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