Post image for Romeo’s Euro Cafe offers taste of Far East at monthly pairing dinner Tuesday

Trans Orient Pork paired with Rutz Cellars’ 2008 Sonoma Cuvee Pinot Noir at the monthly Third Tuesday dinner at Romeo’s Euro Cafe in Gilbert at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The dinner, three courses and three wines for $30, features new menu items from the kitchen crew paired with wines selected by the cafe’s knowledgable servers.

Sept. 16 Third Tuesday menu:

  • Romanchino Salad: Napa and red cabbage, Chinese celery leaves, grape tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, avocado, piquillo peppers, daikon radish, chives, warm bacon vinaigrette, lardons, panko-crusted fresh mozzarella cheese, deviled egg, homemade bread croutons. (Paired with Gloria Ferrer Carneros Chardonnay 2010)
  • Trans Orient Pork: Seared paprika-crusted pork tenderloin, boiled lo pak, sautéed kale, red peppers with garlic and ginger, roasted shishito peppers, balsamic reduction. (Paired with Rutz Cellars’ Sonoma Cuvee Pinot Noir 2008)
  • Chocolate financier: Buttery rich chocolate cake studded with toasted almonds and layered with fudgy ganache with a hint of blackberries. (Paired with Bacorrosa Dolce)

RSVP: 480-962-4224.

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Post image for Arizona Restaurant Week begins Friday, 25 E.V. eateries participating

The twice-a-year Arizona Restaurant Week starts Friday, when eateries throughout the Valley and Tucson will offer special three-course menus for either $33 or $44 per person.

Diners typically get to choose one appetizer, one entree, and one dessert from a list of options. Sometimes, a glass of wine or something else is included to increase the value.

For example:

Arizona Restaurant Week menu ($33) at Zappone’s Italian Bistro in Gilbert:

  • First course (choose one): Calabrese stuffed zucchini; or Tuscan white bean and kale soup.
  • Second course (choose one): Fusilli pasta with eggplant and fresh mozzarella; or wild salmon with sweet corn, tomato, and orzo pasta; or pork pizzaiola with roasted peppers over polenta.
  • Third course (choose one): Homemade pistachio cheesecake; or orange-rosemary olive oil cake.
  • Beverage (choose one): Glass of house red or white wine

Although Phoenix and Scottsdale continue to dominate the list, I count 25 East Valley restaurants among this year’s participants – more than double last year’s total.

The East Valley restaurants include House of Tricks, The Revival, and Top of the Rock in Tempe, Vintage 95 and Earnest in Chandler, High Tide Seafood in Gilbert, and Beaver Choice in Mesa.

See the full list of participating restaurants and their menus here.

Arizona Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, Sept. 28. Reservations are highly recommended.

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Post image for Crust Pizza to open at San Marcos resort in downtown Chandler

Crust Pizza, which had announced plans to open in downtown Chandler last year, is back again. This time, the locally based chain is moving into the Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort and Hotel.

Last summer, Crust agreed to take over the former Kokopelli Winery & Bistro building with a joint concept to be called Crust at Kokopelli Winery.

Those plans eventually fell through, and the Original Chopshop Co. opened in the space in April.

Earlier: Crust pizzeria & wine bar to partner with Kokopelli Winery in downtown Chandler

Now, Crust has signed a 10-year lease for 6,550 square feet at the San Marcos. It hopes to open in late spring.

San Marcos was built by Chandler founder Dr. A.J. Chandler – with help from his friend, renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright – in 1912.

In a nod to the hotel’s history, the new Crust will include a speakeasy-type lounge.

Crust debuted in Scottsdale in 2007 and added a north Phoenix location in 2010. The owners also debuted a fast-casual concept called My Pie in 2013.

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Post image for Pittsburgh Willy’s abandons stand-alone building, will share sibling’s space instead

Despite nearly a year of preparations, owner Randy Walters announced Pittsburgh Willy’s won’t be moving into a small house behind SanTan Brewing in downtown Chandler after all.

The hot dog shop instead will move into the same downtown space with its recently opened burger shop sibling Wimpy’s Paradise (pictured above).

Walters’ original plan was to move Pittsburgh Willy’s from its longtime home in the Merchant’s Square antique mall about two miles south to the converted house in February. Then he planned to open Wimpy’s this fall.

Plans went awry when the Wimpy’s space became available many months earlier than expected. So just days after closing Pittsburgh Willy’s in February, Walters opened Wimpy’s, putting the former’s move on the back burner.

The situation was further complicated by a series of well-publicized adversities Walters experienced.

“Wimpy’s Paradise has been a much bigger learning curve for me, using both resources and finances that I underestimated,” Walters writes on Facebook. “Combine that with the slow summers that plague most Arizona businesses along with my health issues and you have a perfect storm of stress and pressure.”

The good news for Pittsburgh Willy’s fans is that its full menu soon will be available at Wimpy’s Paradise, including pierogi on Wednesday.

“Our plans are to work relentlessly at our shared location and when things turn around, re-open another stand-alone Pittsburgh Willy’s location,” Walters says.

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Monday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Jess Harter | Monday, September 15, 2014

Post image for Monday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

  • The Brass TapMilitary and first responders get 25% off entire bill. Team trivia at 7 p.m. with a chance to win a $10-$30 gift cards.
  • Floridino’s Pizza & Pasta: Get a large two-topping pizza, large tossed salad, and order of breadsticks with cheese for $17.50 from 4-8 p.m.; seniors get buy-one-get-one-free discount all night.
  • House of Brews: $3 canned craft beers; $2 potato chicken skins.
  • Hungry Monk: $9.99 all-you-can-eat boneless wings; $2.50 Blue Moons.
  • Jimmy & Joe’s Pizzeria: Buy dozen wings, get second dozen for $2; 16-inch pizzas for $14.95 (up to 3 free toppings); buy any pizza, get second pizza of equal or less value for $5 ($12 for Big Jimmy).
  • La Ristra New Mexican Kitchen: $5 house margaritas; free kids meal with purchase of adult entree.
  • Nicantoni’s Pizza: $1 off manicotti, meatballs (with spaghetti or in sub), Malibu, and Merlot.
  • Zappone’s Italian Bistro: Buy one entree, get 50% off second entree from 4-9 p.m. Dine in only.

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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:

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Friday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Jess Harter | Friday, September 12, 2014

Post image for Friday specials & deals from MXSW sponsors

Today’s specials and deals from MXSW sponsors:

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Post image for Arizona Beer Class canceled this week, but not for lack of trying

Maybe it was fallout from Monday’s record-setting storm. Maybe it was a delayed hangover from the Labor Day weekend.

Whatever the reason, there’ll be no Arizona Beer Class this week.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. The Arizona brewery I wanted to feature left me in the lurch three times this past week, never getting back to me as promised each time. It happens sometimes in this business, so I had a Plan B.

Unfortunately, interviews with another brewery that was my backup also fell through three times. And a third brewery – Plan C – didn’t even respond to an interview request.

Arizona Beer Class will return next week – brewery willing.

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Post image for A ‘tail’ with a happy ending: Toby is back on the farm

Some happy news on an otherwise somber day: Superstition Farm has found Toby.

The black lab disappeared from the family-run dairy farm in southeast Mesa more than a week ago, prompting friends and fans to comb the area, local shelters, and social media.

Now, the farm just announced on its Facebook page, Toby is safely back on the farm.

No word on where he was found, only that he’s “muddy, thinner and missing his collars.”

As you can see in the photo, though, he seems quite happy to be home.

Update: Glenda McNeal Stechnij from Superstition Farm commented on MXSW’s Facebook page:

Toby was taken by dove hunters…The nice thing about them was that they brought him back to hunt. A family living here at the farm notice them with Toby…called his name..His ears lit up and he came running. The hunter did say that he had tried to find his owner. We are not holding any grudges or suspicions….we are just so happy to have our dog back.

Earlier: Superstition Farm offers $1,500 reward for missing dog Toby

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Post image for Opening today: ZK Grill in Gilbert (with 50% off menu all week)

ZK Grill, a local chain of Mediterranean eateries, opens its fourth Valley location today on the northeast corner of Gilbert and Guadalupe in Gilbert.

From today through Sept. 18, customers will receive 50% off their bill at the new location, according to its Facebook page.

ZK Grill offers a variety of kabobs, gyros, shawarma, and falafel. Entrees range from $6.99-$13.99.

The chain has another location in Ahwatukee and two in Phoenix.

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