Post image for ‘Taste of Romeo’s’: Ravioli Marco Polo & Transylvania Chicken

Feta Dill Fritters (pictured) will be the appetizer for this week’s “Taste of Romeo’s Euro Cafe” dinner at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

The five-course dinners, hosted by chef Romeo Taus and his wife, Janice, highlight a rotating selection from the Gilbert restaurant’s regular menu.

April 24 ‘Taste of Romeo’s’ menu

  • Feta Dill Fritters: A blend of gyro meat, feta cheese, fresh dill, spinach, and pine nuts with yogurt sauce.
  • Balsamic Steak Salad: Grilled steak tossed in EVOO, balsamic vinegar with roasted red peppers, scallions, tomatoes, mushrooms, red cabbage, artichoke hearts, and sunflower seeds with romaine lettuce.
  • Ravioli Marco Polo: Cheese ravioli, meat sauce with Italian sausage, ricotta topped with mozzarella, and a touch of cinnamon.
  • Transylvania Chicken: Grilled chicken breast layered with roasted eggplant, roasted peppers, roasted garlic, pine nuts, and black peppercorns. Rosemary, chilled balsamic beans, and tomato-feta foccacia.
  • Mocha Espresso Brownies: Rich chocolaty brownies spiked with Greek coffee, Kahlua, and walnuts,

Cost is $25 per person, and you can add five wine tastings for another $10. RSVP: 480-962-4224.

Related: Romeo Taus ‘engineers’ culinary success with Euro Cafe

Chandler Craft Spirits Festival makes debut Saturday

Jess Harter | Monday, April 21, 2014

Post image for Chandler Craft Spirits Festival makes debut Saturday

The first-ever Chandler Craft Spirits Festival – showcasing everything from small-batch bourbons to beer cocktails – will make its debut Saturday at downtown’s A.J. Chandler Park.

For the general-admission price of $35, attendees will receive 15 “generous” 1-ounce samples. VIP admission is $75 and includes 15 tastings of higher-end liquors plus food.

The 21-and-over event will run 5-10 p.m. and also have DJ music, mixology competitions, food, and prize giveaways.

You can buy tickets online here.

The Downtown Chandler Community Partnership cut ties with downtown’s annual Taste Chandler culinary festival in 2013, intending to host its own festival last fall, but the event never came together.

Now, it’s partnering with a Scottsdale marketing agency to host the Craft Spirits Festival.

Taste Chandler’s organizer, meanwhile, successfully moved that festival to Chandler’s Downtown Ocotillo development last fall.

Sleepy Dog sued by Ohio brewery over Leg Humper ale

Jess Harter | Monday, April 21, 2014

Post image for Sleepy Dog sued by Ohio brewery over Leg Humper ale

Tempe’s Sleepy Dog Brewery has been sued by Ohio’s Thirsty Dog Brewing over allegations of trademark violation.

At issue is Sleepy Dog’s Leg Humper hefeweizen, whose name is rip-off of its longtime Old Leghumper porter, Thirsty Dog claims.

The Akron brewery also wants Sleepy Dog to change its label, which features a dog sitting between the legs of a woman wearing a black skirt and high heels.

Old Leghumper’s label shows a dog sitting in front of three women wearing black skirts and high heels.

The Ohio brewery trademarked Old Leghumper more than 15 years ago, a decade before Sleepy Dog launched in 2009.

Thirsty Dog says it brought its concerns to Sleepy Dog in 2011, and finally filed a lawsuit last week because of Sleepy Dog’s inaction.

No response yet from Sleepy Dog.

Tuesday: Get free chicken wings at House of Brews

Jess Harter | Monday, April 21, 2014

Post image for Tuesday: Get free chicken wings at House of Brews

House of Brews in Gilbert thinks it makes pretty good chicken wings. Now it wants to prove it to you.

On Tuesday, the Gilbert craft beer bar and grill will be giving away a half-dozen wings to anyone who stops in.

The offer is good all day while supplies last. No purchase is necessary, but you can’t take the wings to-go.

After a rough 2013 – when the bar closed twice in three months – House of Brews has revamped its menu under new ownership and management.

The bar recently added 21 beer taps, bringing its current total to 47.

House of Brews to bring total number of taps to 56
House of Brews unveils new weekend brunch menu

Will WOB Gilbert be only Founders launch with KBS?

Jess Harter | Monday, April 21, 2014

Post image for Will WOB Gilbert be only Founders launch with KBS?

When Hensley announced 13 Founder’s Arizona launch parties around the state this Wednesday, one beer was conspicuously absent from all the tap lists: The Grand Rapids, Mich., brewery’s much-coveted Kentucky Breakfast Stout.

Over the weekend, though, World of Beer Gilbert announced its party would feature a keg of the bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout (11.2% ABV), leading to speculation KBS, as it’s known, might make “surprise” appearances at some of the other parties, too.

What’s the big deal, you ask? KBS not only scores a perfect 100 on craft beer’s two major review sites, and It ranks No. 5 on the latter’s oft-referenced list of the best beers in the world.

Since it’s a limited-release beer available only in April, people travel from around the country to line up for hours at Founder’s just to get a small pour on its release date.

This year: More KBS release events

This year, Founders tried to spread the love around. In Michigan, it hosted a week of KBS tappings around the state, leading some to believe it will distribute the beer just as widely here this week.

Of course, that may just prove to be wishful thinking.

The 13 Arizona launch parties Wednesday will include three in the East Valley: The Hungry Monk (5-8 p.m.), Boulders on Broadway (6-8 p.m.), and World of Beer Gilbert (7-10 p.m.).

Officially – that is, according to Hensley – all 13 parties will have Curmudgeon Old Ale, Dirty Bastard, Centennial IPA, Red’s Rye IPA, Porter, Pale Ale, and All Day IPA on tap.

And, fingers crossed, maybe KBS.

Post image for It’s Burger Monday! Here are today’s East Valley deals

It’s Monday, which means burger specials around the East Valley:

Hot N Juicy Crawfish opens in downtown Tempe

Jess Harter | Sunday, April 20, 2014

Post image for Hot N Juicy Crawfish opens in downtown Tempe

Hot N Juicy Crawfish, a Las Vegas-based chain known for its crawfish in a signature spice-laden sauce, made its Arizona debut this weekend at Centerpoint on Mill in downtown Tempe.

Although the chain’s social media accounts announced Saturday the Tempe location would open “very soon,” it actually opened Friday.

The 3,170-square-foot space, located on Seventh Street just west of Mill, previously was home to Grilled Expedition.

Besides crawfish, Hot N Juicy – which was spotlighted in Adam Richman’s short-lived “Man v. Food” spinoff “Amazing Eats” in 2012 – offers a variety of seafood, including oysters, crab, lobster, clams, shrimp, catfish, and calamari.

HotNJuicyCrawfishDiners can choose from five seasonings – Louisiana Style, Juicy Cajun, Garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper, and Hot N Juicy Special.

There are four levels of spiciness – mild, medium, spicy, and extra spicy.

Beverage options include nine different beers, although all of the non-craft variety.

Hours are noon-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and noon-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

The revitalized Centerpoint on Mill complex includes the AMC Theaters, P.F. Chang’s, Mellow Mushroom, Five Guys, Jimmy John’s, and Zipps Sports Grill.

Help fight cancer by taking brewery tour April 26-27

Jess Harter | Friday, April 18, 2014

Post image for Help fight cancer by taking brewery tour April 26-27

Kudos to AZ Brewery Tours, SanTan Brewing, The Hungry Monk, The Perch, and Arizona Wilderness Brewing for donating all the money from these tours to Chandler Relay for Life.

Click here for larger version of flyer. Seats are going fast. One of the four tours already is sold out. Reserve your seat here.

Classic Italian Pizza set to reopen at end of month

Jess Harter | Thursday, April 17, 2014

Post image for Classic Italian Pizza set to reopen at end of month

The day East Valley pizza lovers have been waiting for for more than a year – the reopening of award-winning Classic Italian Pizza – is almost upon us.

Owner/chef Azhar Began says his new location, now dubbed Began’s Classic Italian Pizza, will open at the end of this month in the former Hoodlums Music space on the southwest corner of McClintock and Guadalupe in south Tempe.

The new site is in the bustling shopping center that’s also home to Changing Hands bookstore, Trader Joe’s, Mac’s Broiler & Tap, and, most recently, 24 Carrots Natural Cafe.

The credit, Began says, goes to Changing Hands co-owner Gayle Shanks.

“She’s been my customer for years,” he says. “She would always pull me out of the restaurant, grab my hand, and say, ‘Listen to me. You need to go into my shopping center. It’s the best in town.’”

Still using wood-fired oven

ClassicItalianOvenThe new space is about a mile-and-a-half from Lakeshore and Baseline, where the original Classic Italian operated for eight years.

Like its predecessor, the decor still is Old World-ish – lots of dark wood, iron, and stone – but the extra square footage (1,600, vs. 1,380 at the old location) has allowed the full bar to be twice as big.

The former brick-encased Renato wood-fired pizza oven has been replaced by a brand-new Renato wrapped in gray stone (pictured), which already has been cured for the necessary seven days and is ready to go.

Open for lunch, 7 days a week

What else is new? Began has created a selection of panini sandwiches for lunch – the old location had been open for dinner-only since its second year.

Another change: “This is a much better location, so we’re going to be open seven days a week,” he says.

The rest of the menu will be pretty much the same – 12-inch pizzas, calzones, salads, and a few appetizers – although Began is toying with the idea of streamlining it for the first few months until he settles into the new digs.

“I might just go with the four most popular pizzas we had before,” he says. “I had 15 (specialty) pizzas before, and I’ve developed four more. But if I put 20 pizzas on the menu it might be a little overwhelming.”

Reverse happy hour plans

Another idea he’s considering: Reverse happy from 10 p.m. to midnight when he offers “half off everything across the board.”

As for his sudden closure in February 2013 that caught his customers off-guard, he blames the owners of the decaying strip mall.

“I was the last tenant there for over two years,” he says. “They wanted me to sign a 10-year lease with some ridiculous numbers. Then the TI (tenant improvement) numbers they promised they slashed in half. I just couldn’t do it.”

• Classic Italian Pizza breaks ground on new site
• Award-winning Classic Italian Pizza closes

Post image for 3rd season of Chef Off starts April 28 at sN Asian Kitchen

Chef Off!, a series of friendly culinary battles featuring East Valley chefs, kicks off its third season at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 28, at sN Asian Kitchen in Mesa.

The year’s first contest will debut a new format in a rematch between founders Romeo Taus of Romeo’s Euro Cafe and John Wong of sN Asian.

The premise is still the same: Each chef will prepare three dishes. Diners will get all six dishes, plus three glasses of wine and dessert, and vote on the “winner.”

This year, though, chefs will describe the dishes, the ingredients, the cooking techniques, and why they choose the dish to pair with the wine.

In addition, diners will receive recipes and tips to prepare the dishes at home if they desire.