Andreoli Italian Grocer (Scottsdale)

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I used taunt an Italian friend of mine by calling Olive Garden an Italian restaurant. Just the mention of the words olive and garden in the same sentence could set him off. He’s gone back to Chicago – to eat real food again, he said – but I am certain that he would love Andreoli Italian Grocer.

Around Phoenix  loves this place. When you are here you really are family.

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Walking in to Andreoli’s is like stepping into the sitting room next to mama’s kitchen. Imported pasta, olive oil and assorted goodies are stacked on one wall. An eclectic collection of rustic furniture is gathered about. The wine cabinet is open for perusal and, best of all, there is delicious array of desserts, meats and other assorted ingredient to drool over while you make your selection.

At Andreoli’s you order at the counter deli style, grab yourself a nice bottle of wine, find a seat and enjoy.  A quick note: bring a cork-screw with you and you can avoid the $5 corking charge. Wine with your dinner at Andreoli’s is a very reasonable deal.

Also, speaking of finding a seat, Around Phoenix suggests you arrive before 6:30 if you can. The place gets packed fast. We also suggest you go sometime soon on a Saturday night.

If you arrive right at 6pm on Saturday you can be first in line for Chef Giovanni Scorzo’s house speciality – focaccia-style, wood-fired pizza. Well, you might be second in line because there’s a good chance Around Phoenix will already be there.

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best pizza in town

Andreoli’s serves up pizza on Wednesday and Saturday nights and the experience is not to be missed.

Around Phoenix says this is hands down the best pizza in town.

You’ll have to turn up yourself to find out what Giovanni is fixing that day but go ahead and try any of them you won’t be disappointed.

The pastas are generous and delicious too. I tried the spagettini and clams last Friday. It was excellent. When Ms. AP saw the big pile of fresh clams in the shell she wished she had picked it too.

We also tried the grilled calamari appetizer. Very flavorful, but beware you can definitely taste it’s been grilled.

Finally, don’t resist dessert even if you have to take it home and enjoy it later. I’ve never had a croissant with such a light, sweet yet crunchy crust. I don’t know how Chef does it. You’ll likely be saying the same thing about any item you pick.

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don’t skip dessert

Get yourself to Andreoli Italian Grocer. If you’re like us and don’t like to wait get there early. If you are also like us and love great pizza go there on Saturday night.

Andreoli’s is at 8800 E. Via Linda in Scottdsale, on the NW corner of 90th Street and Via Linda.

Hiro Sushi (Scottsdale)

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sushi bar hiro style

Have you noticed that many Sushi restaurants around Phoenix don’t have quite the range they used to? Sure, everybody makes plenty of different rolls; but it seems to Around Phoenix that most sushi menus are all the same. Worse still, crunchy toppings and fried sushi rolls are everywhere.

Thank god for Hiro Sushi.

Hiro Sushi’s  menu is chock full of delights, unique combos, and a truly adventurous list of Daily Specials.

Ms. AP is a big fan of the Eggplant Miso. I love me some Spanish Mackerel.

They say the true test of a sushi restaurant is the Uni.  I’ve tried it. It is indeed fresh and flavorful. Maybe the best Uni  I had anywhere, actually (although sushi in Tokyo is still on my bucket list).

Also be sure to sample whatever sashimi special is on the board that day. Hiro Sushi  has never disappointed.

If soup and noodles is more your thing, try some Udon – any of them.  I always get the Nabeyaki Udon  served in a clay pot with plenty of fish cake and topped with tempura.

Hiro Sushi  is one of those small, strip mall joints; but don’t let (outside) appearances fool you. Inside all is, as the New Times described it… fun, chic and trendy.

We love to sit at the sushi bar and, I have to say, the bar sitters at Hiro Sushi  have been consistently fun and friendly.

One note:  I have to add, the last time we were at Hiro Sushi  we sat next to a “personal childhood friend” of Bill Clinton who took my photo and cell number and promised he could make me a million dollars as a Clinton double. So far, no call and no million dollars so I guess I’ll stick with blogging for now.

Around Phoenix considers Hiro Sushi the best sushi deal in town  and highly recommends a visit.

By the way, we are there regularly; so, if you see a guy at the bar that looks like a dead ringer for Bill Clinton, be sure to come up and say hello.

One last thing, I have promised Ms. AP that I will no longer sing “Did you ever know that you’re my Hiro?” to all and sundry after my meal. No one finds it as entertaining as I do, apparently.

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Hiro Sushi is located at 9393 N. 90th St. in Scottsdale (just off the 101)

Cheers and See You Around Phoenix

The Comedy Spot (Old Town Scottsdale)

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like a comedic orgy parlor without all the groping

like a comedic orgy parlor without all the groping

Something in my nature refuses to write a review of a comedy club without being a little tongue in cheek; but my own tongue and most definitely my own cheek, of course.

Now to the review. Well, wait… I should note that The Comedy Spot  was not the first stop of the night for Around Phoenix.  In fact, as the show started at 10 pm, and as we had downed a couple of fireballs and shot some pool at the Rock Bar around 9 pm, it turned out to be our last stop for the evening. But a fine stop it was.

The club itself has a good vibe - comfy and clean - definitely not a dive. Some might call it intimate; but, really, how could anything packed to overflowing with rowdy fun-seekers be intimate. I would describe it as a comedic orgy parlor without all the nasty groping.

One thing The Comedy Spot   most definitely is…is value for money. For a mere 12 bucks we were treated to not one, not two, but five fine comedians who kept the crowd rollicking from start to finish.

I assume that the first four comedians of the night were local; but they were an interesting lot to be sure. Again, forgive me, I’m just getting the hang of this taking notes thing and didn’t catch their names… but the main point is they all brought the funny.

There was a self-deprecating comic who made jokes about how truly awkward looking he was; an enormous guy who joked from the perspective of say Andre the Giant; a Japanese comic with a heavy accent who can only be described at Kaufman-esque; and an edgy, but very funny, insult comic wearing what I believe is known as a pork pie hat. They all had distinct comedic chops and they kept us laughing.

The headliner for the night, Monty Franklin, is now done and gone so I wont waste too much time talking about him. He is an easy-going storyteller in the Seinfeld manner and pretty darn funny to boot.

One word of warning: if you happen to sit near the stage (and for most of the crowd that is hard to avoid – did I mention this place is small?) well, let’s just say… you will become part of the show.

Oh, and avoid going to the bathroom while a comic is on stage. That is, try not to get up and go to the bathroom even if you are worried you might piss yourself laughing.

The guy at the table next to us left mid-act and, by the time he got back, his date – prompted by Monty – had filled us all in on the intimate details of their first and second dates. She also let the crowd know, in fairly graphic terms, that the poor guy was not going to get lucky that night. When the guy returned, Monty let him know what we all knew. Like I said, sometimes you just gotta laugh, am I right? The guy, by the way, took it all in good humor (girl, he’s a keeper).

Around Phoenix highly recommends The Comedy Spot.   For a good time call 480 945 4422 and get the details.

The Comedy Spot  is located in Old Town on 3rd Ave next to The Venue and just down from Dos Gringos.

Cheers and See You Around Phoenix

EVO (Old Town Scottsdale)

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EVO – a cool place with great food and 1 cent fireballs

Around Phoenix  hit EVO  Friday night and found more than the extra virgin olive oil to our liking. The atmosphere is hip and friendly without being pretentious. We like that, especially as we were just stopping in for an extended happy hour and a bite to eat.

We started out by cashing in on a Yelp check-in deal – a dollar shot of fireball. Whomever came up with the idea to make whiskey taste like candy was a genius! Ms. AP was particularly struck by the concept and later in the evening ordered two more. By the way, whatever you think of the often confounding Yelp reviews, you do have to love those check-in deals.

Speaking of drinks, EVO  has a small but interesting wine list and offers a fine array of house cocktails – including the tempting El Saguaro and the curiously dubbed Elder Fizz - but we will have to return another day to sample those.

We at AP are big fans of good pasta and EVO  did not disappoint.

Ms. AP had the Vegetable Risotto  but threw in some chicken for good measure (and added protein). She noted the risoto was light and not too sticky and the chicken was super tender. I ask you, what more could you wish for?

My dish was a delish pappadelle pasta with lobster and pancetta. My apologies, readers, but after downing my fireball I forgot to write down the exact name of my meal and I can’t find it on the online menu. However, if you see it when you go, give it a try. I’m picky about lobster and this particular crustacean was fresh and, dare I add, juicy.

Anyway, long story short, the two plates we chose were pretty much perfect and we are guessing everything else is darn good as well. Also, as an added bonus, the prices are very reasonable.

Our server, Taylor, deserves special mention. She was attentive without being cloying and very knowledgeable about the menu and wine selection. We took her advice on the wine, although I have to say, we bravely made our own dinner selection. That’s the way we roll.

We skipped dessert as our meals were more than enough to satisfy. In fact, as usual, Ms. AP had half a meal left over to enjoy the following day. As is our tradition after any Italian meal we sampled “due espressos” which were a perfect cap to a delightful meal (although I do still wonder why so many restaurants around Phoenix persist in serving their espresso sans lemon).

Around Phoenix,  heartily recommends EVO  to all who enjoy cool vibes, down-to-earth freshness and simple goodness. We know you’re going to love it as much as we did. Do yourself (and your sweetheart) a favor, and make your way to EVO  some night very soon.

EVO  is located in Old Town Scottsdale on Goldwater just north of Indian School…and FYI it’s open nightly until 1:30 am (a perfect place for a late night snack)

Cheers and See You Around Phoenix

What is Around Phoenix?

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We at Around Phoenix  love good food, great drinks, and fun places.

What’s more, we want to tell you about them.

We only have one rule. We don’t review what we don’t like. If it’s here, we love it… And you will too!

Sure, we know there’s no accounting for every taste; but we will tell you exactly what WE liked and why…and we’re almost certain you’ll agree. If you don’t, be sure to let us know. We’ll add your review to ours and let the public decide.

Around Phoenix  has been all over town (and lots of other towns all around the world) for longer than we’d like to admit. If there’s one thing we know… it’s a good time.

So, whether it’s the best happy hour in town…

romantic dinner destination…

Or a great place to enjoy the game

Around Phoenix  will tell you where to go.

Cheers and See You Around Phoenix!

Be sure to follow us on twitter too @aroundphoenix