Franco's Italian Cafe in Scottsdale: Classic, Sophisticated, and Delicious

Categories: Cafe Review

Jackie Mercandetti
Seafood risotto at Franco's Italian Cafe.
I rarely eat in Italian restaurants. Raised on basic Italian fare, I'm put off by menus featuring chicken parmigiani and "gourmet" versions of pasta fagioli (peasant food, made with white beans and macaroni in a watery tomato broth, but invariably Italian-­Americanized with veal and a half­-dozen vegetables in the pretentious "Italian" diners that serve it).

Franco's Italian Café is an exception I am always happy to make. Offering a sophisticated cuisine both rustic and refined, this posh Scottsdale restaurant's tired décor (exposed ductwork; big black-­and-­white framed photos of Italian movie stars) is less kitsch or bad planning than an homage to our recent culinary past, when Franco's was a mainstay of fine Italian dining.

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Stone Master of Disguise: The Green Ketchup of Beers

Zach Fowle
Beer: Master of Disguise
Brewery: Stone Brewing Co.
Style: Golden Stout, I Guess?
ABV: 9.7 percent

Remember green ketchup? Heinz, those crazy bastards, launched an emerald-hued version of the condiment -- made, I'm assuming, with ground-up leprechauns and seaweed -- in 2000. It was incomprehensibly popular for about five years, until people realized they were eating green ketchup, and stopped the madness.

I couldn't stop thinking about green ketchup as I sipped Master of Disguise, the newest ale from Stone Brewing Co. It has all the aspects of your standard imperial stout: It's crazy-thick, sliding into the glass with motor-oil consistency. It smells like cocoa nibs, light roast coffee, baked wheat bread, green bananas and wet tree leaves. The flavor is permeated with coffee beans and chocolate, accented by subtler fruity yeast notes of red apple and pear. It the mouth, the brew's viscous and lightly carbonated, and it finishes with a blast of sweet cocoa and a lingering alcohol bite. It's a tasty example of an imperial stout.

Only problem is, it's orange.

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Olivia Wingert of Souvia on How to Brew Better Tea

Categories: Grind

Zaida Dedolph
A perfectly extracted cup of Souvia tea.

Souvia Tea isn't the kind of place that commands attention, but when you visit you might not want to leave. Located in a strip mall in north Phoenix, the shop is quiet, clean, and unassuming. Its soft, sweet aromas, floor-to-ceiling tea cannisters, and myriad steeping devices kind of make walking into the shop feel like walking into a fairy tale cottage.

Owner Olivia Wingert has cultivated this experience. After she left her hometown near Frankfurt, Germany, Wingert felt overwhelmed by the fast-paced lifestyle and coffee-loving climate of the United States. She wanted to emulate the experience of village living and build a community centered around tea. As Souvia enters its tenth year as a cafe and wholesale operation, it's clear that she has succeeded.

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15 Metro Phoenix Chefs and Restaurateurs Share Their Worst Thanksgiving Nightmares

Categories: Bites & Dishes

Thanksgiving: A time to enjoy friends, family, turkey, and small kitchen fires.

We can all relate to a Thanksgiving horror story -- the time your mom forgot to turn on the oven or the deep fryer blew. But it's different at a chef's house, right? Think again. We've been talking to some of Valley's top chefs and restauranteurs and they've got some stories that are going to make you feel very good about yourself -- and your Thanksgiving table. You're welcome.

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Mac & Cheese Throwdown 2014 Tickets Are On Sale Now -- And They Usually Go Fast

Categories: Events

Kristin Heggli
Last year's winning Mac & Cheese from Chef Richard Garcia of Café ZuZu.
We're about to launch head first into the holiday season, which means lots of hours-long family dinners and events where we all stuff ourselves silly with food and drink. In keeping with that theme, we'd like you to know that the fifth annual Mac & Cheese Throwdown, hosted by Girl Meets Fork Marketing & Media and Diya Marketing, is just around the corner.

This year's cheesy competition will be held at House of Comedy at High Street (formerly City North) and will feature macaroni and cheese creations from 12 local restaurants and chefs. Best of all, if you go, you get to eat as much of it as you can.

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10 Best Places for Tamales in Metro Phoenix

Categories: Top Lists

Natalie Miranda
Hot tamale! It's about that time to fill up.
Tamales are a tried and true Mexican dish, with South American versions making their way onto the metro Phoenix restaurant scene, as well. There's nothing quite like unwrapping a steaming corn husk with the tips of your fingers and finding moist masa stuffed with either spicy beef made with red chiles, or chicken flecked with green chiles and Monterey Jack cheese. And let us not forget the green corn tamales that carry a sweet and savory flavor, an easy people pleaser.

We rounded up the best places in the Valley so you can get your fill of tamales.

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Amy Bouzaglo of Amy's Baking Company on Bad Publicity, Bullies, and the Best (and Worst) Thing About Owning a Restaurant

Categories: Chef and Tell

Coutesy of Amy Bouzaglo
Amy Bouzaglo
Chef, owner
Amy's Baking Company
7366 E. Shea Blvd, Scottsdale

In the back corner of an unremarkable Scottsdale strip mall there's a quaint and extremely tidy restaurant owned by a married couple.

The wife, a blonde who considers herself an Arizona native, runs the back of the house. The husband, an immigrant who came to this country 14 years ago, oversees the front of house operations.

They've been serving simple food and desserts from their restaurant for the last eight years. The wife, who has experience in interior design, decorated the black and white restaurant. She says she even put the Venetian plaster on the walls herself.

If you didn't know their names were Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, this couple would be easy to like at best and unexceptional at worst. Unfortunately, chances are slim that you don't already know who they are.

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3 Best Places to Eat and Drink This Week in Metro Phoenix

Categories: Events

Courtesy of Sip Coffee & Beer House
Sip Coffee & Beer House

Though there's no shortage of great restaurants and shopping destinations in Old Town Scottsdale, the area was really lacking a cozy, chill hang out spot until Sip Coffee & Beer House opened its doors earlier this year. The new-ish coffee shop and bar offers happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. daily with specials such as $6 Whisky Mules, as well as a slew of weekly events including Tuesday night trivia, open mic on Wednesday, and music bingo on Thursdays. Today Sip will have a special event: a free Beer Education class with certified cicerone Ben Schwirck from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information check the Sip Coffee & Beer House Facebook.

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How to Make a Pitcher of Martinis for Your Thanksgiving Party

Categories: Last Call

JK Grence
What's better than easy martinis at Thanksgiving? Not much, I tell you.

As I look at the calendar, I realize that my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is sneaking up on me faster than I'd care to know. The refrigerator is getting filled with all manner of tasty treats, and soon the house will be full of food and friends.

With all the madness of Thanksgiving merriment, for many people a little social lubrication is in order. For some it's to help the holidays feel especially merry and bright. For others... the unofficial slogan of Thanksgiving is "I need a freaking drink."

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After Nine Months, the Tempe Community Market Has Closed

Categories: News

Tempe Community Market/Facebook
In recent years, farmers markets seem to be popping up all over the Valley, with nearly every community and neighborhood banding together to organize a weekly event. That was the case in Tempe earlier this year when Tempe Community Action Agency, a nonprofit organization, announced plans to launch a year-round farmers market in downtown Tempe.

Now, less than a year later, the organization has decided to shut down the market in order to "reassesses its future viability."

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