New Restaurants

Post image for Quartiere scheduled to open in late October in ex-Riazzi’s space in Tempe

Yesterday MXSW broke the news that the just-closed Riazzi’s Italian Garden in Tempe would be replaced by a new restaurant called Quartiere. Today we have details.

Like Riazzi’s, which had operated for 72 years before closing earlier this week, Quartiere will be a neighborhood Italian restaurant.

New owner Erick Geryol first discovered Riazzi’s one day when he picked up his young kids from their school nearby.

‘‘I grew up with that type of cuisine (in Waukegan, Ill.),’’ he says. ‘‘I remember sitting with a friend at the bar at Riazzi’s and thinking, ‘What a great neighborhood place.’’’

When he recently heard the restaurant was for sale, and the best offer had been a low-ball bid from a dental office, he was interested.

‘‘Looking at new places is a bit of a hobby,’’ admits Geryol, who owns neighborhood sports bars Boulders on Broadway and Spokes on Southern in Tempe and Boulders on Southern in Mesa.

In this case, things worked out and the sale to Geryol now is all but complete, just awaiting some logistical matters like the removal of a cell tower from the property.

RiazzisInterior081617

Geryol considered gutting the 5,000-square-foot building on Mill Avenue, halfway between Broadway and Southern, but felt he didn’t have the time. He plans to reopen in just 10 weeks.

(Like most people, he was surprised by Riazzi’s owners’ decision to suddenly close before the sale was finalized. He is looking to find short-term jobs at his other restaurants for Riazzi’s employees.)

Instead of a complete overhaul, Geryol says he will focus on ‘‘floor and texture upgrades,’’ including a new bar, new tile, new booths, and new tables and chairs.

Another area of new emphasis will be Riazzi’s under-utilized garden patio with fireplace and (currently) non-working fountain.

Geryol, who has extensive experience cooking for Italian restaurants, will personally create a new menu, keeping dishes at the same $13-$14 price point.

RiazzisFountain081617

Quarteire, he says, will be a major departure from the sports bar/outdoors theme of his other restaurants. No walls of TVs. No long lists of craft beers (but some European imports instead).

The name change is necessary, he says, because Riazzi’s owners want to ‘‘retire’’ the original name.

Quartiere is Italian for ‘‘neighborhood.’’ It derives from the word quatro, or ‘‘fourth,’’ referencing the way Italian cities typically were divided into four regions.

Either way, it seems the perfect name for Geryol’s fourth neighborhood restaurant.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Little Miss BBQ to open 2nd location in Sunnyslope in early 2018

The good news: Little Miss BBQ, well-known for the best barbecue in Arizona and the long waits in line to get some of it – is opening a second location.

The bad news, at least for East Valley residents: The new location will be in Sunnyslope – on Seventh Street south of Dunlap in north Phoenix.

Still, anything that takes at least some customers away from the original location on University and 44th Street in Phoenix is a good thing, isn’t it?

The new location will feature all the same menu items as the original, plus a few more, according to AZ Central. Additions likely will include “sweet and sticky ribs” and smoked salmon, as well as some new sides.

Thanks to two new rotisserie-style smokers, the Sunnyslope location will be able to smoke more meat than the original.

Owner Scott Holmes, who opened Little Miss BBQ three-and-a-half years ago, plans to start renovating a former Western Union branch at Seventh and Townley next month. Look for the opening in early 2018.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Tres Restaurant to bring Mediterranean/Southwestern blend to south Tempe

Tres Restaurant, a new East Valley eatery promising a blend of Mediterranean and Southwestern flavors, is coming to the Discovery Office Park on Price Road, just north of Elliott, in south Tempe.

“We are combining traditional and familiar Southwestern and Mexican flavors with the light, healthy and popular dishes found in the Mediterranean region,’’ says executive chef Steve Zimmerman.

Much of Tres’ menu will be produced by a wood-burning oven, one of the focal points of the restaurant. Another will be a large bar offering craft cocktails and extensive wine and beer lists.

Outside, a spacious courtyard will have communal and traditional tables, as well as games like corn hole and bocce ball.

Tres will serve lunch and dinner. (Pictured: Spanish Style Chicken Feast with preserved lemon, smashed fingerlings, and Mediterranean salsa.)

The restaurant will hold a “talent tryout” from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, at the Chandler Chamber of Commerce, 25 S. Arizona Place #201, Chandler.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Texas-based Varsity Tavern to take over ex-Hooters on Mill Avenue

The old Hooters space on Tempe’s Mill Avenue, which has sat empty since April 2015, is finally getting a new occupant.

Varsity Tavern, a Texas sports bar and nightclub, will take over the second and third floors of the building on the southeast corner of Mill and Fifth Street.

The first floor has been leased by Gringo-Star Street Bar since 2013.

Varsity Tavern in Fort Worth, Texas, is just over 5,000 square feet. The Tempe location is nearly 11,000 square feet, not counting a 3,500-square-foot patio.

No opening date has been announced.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Old Town Scottsdale fave Frank & Lupe’s opening location in Ahwatukee

Frank & Lupe’s, an Old Town Scottsdale institution for more than a quarter-century, is expanding to southeast Valley.

Specifically, the family-run, no-frills Mexican restaurant is taking over the former Brazilian Bull Steakhouse on the southwest corner of I-10 and Chandler in Ahwatukee.

The Brazilian Bull, formerly Fogo E Brasa, closed in 2015.

FrankLupesPlate080317

Frank & Lupe’s, which also has a location in Socorro, N.M., offers New Mexican-style burrito, taco, enchilada, and tamale plates for $10-$16 in a casual, laidback environment.

The Ahwatukee opening is planned for September.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Donut Worry to give away free doughnuts at Gilbert grand opening Friday

Donut Worry, a year-old doughnut shop in east Mesa, will open a second location Friday, July 28, on the northeast corner of Gilbert and Guadalupe in Gilbert.

A family-friendly grand opening celebration will be held from 7 a.m.-noon.

They’ll be giving away free doughnuts and kids balloons all day, as well as offering 20 percent off all purchases. If you buy a dozen doughnuts, you’ll get another dozen free.

Ten prizes – including a 32GB iPad, a $250 Target gift card, and a year’s supply of doughnuts – will be raffled off.

Besides doughnuts, DoNut Worry offers breakfast and lunch menus.

The original Donut Worry opened on the southwest corner of Ellsworth and Baseline in August 2016.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Famous 48 to take over ex-Crab & Mermaid space in Old Town Scottsdale this fall

Scottsdale-based Square One Concepts, best known for its Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers restaurants, will debut a new concept, Famous 48, in Old Town Scottsdale this fall.

Described as a ‘‘casual yet sophisticated tavern-themed venue,’’ Famous 48 will offer classic American dishes from the lower 48 states, including roasted chicken, roasted pork loin, and BBQ baby back ribs.

It will take over the building on Scottsdale Road between Third and Fourth streets that previously housed Square One’s short-lived Crab & Mermaid, which closed in May.

Square One’s other local concepts are Wasted Grain, Bourbon & Bones, and The Funky Monk.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Press Coffee to open 2nd Tempe location Thursday with 3 days of free coffee

Valley-based Press Coffee opens its second Tempe location Thursday, July 27, and will be giving away free cups of coffee for three days.

The new location is at the Nexa Apartments on Apache, halfway between Rural and McClintock. Besides a full range of cofee drinks, it also will offer breakfast and lunch.

To celebrate the opening, Press will be giving away free small cups of drip or cold brew coffee through Saturday. No purchase is necessary.

Press Coffee at Nexa will be open 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday.

The opening will give Press a total of six locations in the Valley.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for After nearly 2-year closure, La Calabria reopens today in new Gilbert location

La Calabria Ristorante, a well-liked mom-and-pop Italian restaurant that closed nearly two years ago, reopens today on the southwest corner of Val Vista and Williams Field in Gilbert.

Owners Giovanni and Clara Spataro closed their original location – which was located a mile north of the new one – in September 2015 when they were unable to negotiate a new lease.

After taking some time off, including a two-month trip to Europe, the couple found a new strip-mall space for their restaurant just south of High Tide Seafood.

The new location is slightly smaller – 3,100 square feet compared to the original’s 3,400 – but has a larger dining room and what Giovanni Spataro calls a ‘‘real’’ bar (shown below).

LaCalabriaBar072517

Spataro, a native of Calabria (the region of southern Italy that forms the toe of the “boot”), still heads the kitchen and has kept his previous menu of pastas, sandwiches, and entrees mostly intact. See the lunch menu and dinner menu.

The 12-seat bar has six beers on tap, including Peroni; two dozen wines; and a variety of espresso drinks.

Lunch hours are 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Dinner hours are 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday (until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday).

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts

Post image for Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria to open north Scottsdale location next summer

Chicago-based Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, which made its much-hyped Arizona debut in Phoenix in May 2016, has announced its second full-service location will open in north Scottsdale next summer.

The new pizzeria will be located in the new Chauncey Lane development near the 101 and Scottsdale Road.

Lou Malnati’s – famous for its Chicago-style deep-dish – previously announced it will open a small location in east Phoenix for delivery and carryout only this fall.

Owner Marc Malnati has said he plans to open eight to 10 locations in the Valley.

Keep up to date on local food & drink news: Click here to receive a daily email roundup of new MXSW posts