Moving south from the Pacific Alaska region, Think Tasty now heads to the Pacific Hawaii region. Encompassing Hawaii, California, Nevada, and Arizona, we will share our top ten picks from the many that were submitted. For the next ten days, readers will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite place. Voting will end at 5:00 pm EDT on Thursday, June 24th, and the winner will be announced on Friday.
1. Café ZuZu, Scottsdale, Arizona
Named after beloved mother and grandmother, ZuZu is the nickname of a fantastic local cook who is the inspiration for the menu. As Hotel Valley Ho’s signature restaurant, ZuZu serves forth fresh farm-to-table fare. The kitchen is presided over by Executive Chef Charles Wiley, who was named one of “America’s Ten Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine Magazine. Everything is made from scratch; eggs are organic, jams and jellies come from AZ Harvest, and produce is delivered fresh from the valley’s Duncan, Sunizona, and Singh Farms. New menus are created for each season, four times per year. Favorites include Beef Stroganoff, Sweet Dijon Glazed Salmon, Chopped Salad, and ZuZu’s famous warm Parker House Rolls. Desserts are another specialty; homemade pies, malts, shakes, and ice cream dishes are served up daily. Diners also love the scones served for Sunday brunch. ZuZu features booth and table seating, a beautiful courtyard patio, and a swank lounge. The lobby bar morphs into an espresso bar; then into a full service soda fountain; and finally into a community table, a favorite resting place of lonesome travelers.
2. Cielo, Scottsdale, Arizona
Cielo restaurant is a Northern Mediterranean cuisine restaurant featuring the light, fresh flavors of the coastal areas of Italy and France. Breaking away from it’ once corporate identity, Cielo has taken on its own image, allowing the chef to change the menu daily if he prefers. The daily changes are the result of what local items the chef receives, even going to the local farms in the morning and having items on the menu that evening. A sample creation from the chef is a Napoleon style watermelon and mozzarella cheese antipasti- lite, airey, heavenly- Cielo. In keeping with freshness of the foods, all pastas, sorbets, gelatos, chocolates, and breads, including the pizza pie dough, are made on property. The Cielo Beverage team has collected the areas finest “libraries” of wines. From a 1988 Antinori Solaia to a 1996 Roagna “Crichet Paje” Barbaresco, the 200 wines in their display cellar are available from around the world. Also, featured drinks at the bar are the Mediterranean Mojitos in flavors of mango, pineapple and the guests’ favorite- coconut blueberry.
3. Frank & Albert’s, Phoenix, Arizona
Executive Chef Todd Sicolo and Chef de Cuisine Conor Favre blended their vision and styles, “architecting” (as they put it) a menu diverse yet comfortable – and mouth-watering – enough to entice frequent visits by local fans. Diners will discover an abundance of Arizona Comfort Foods and American Classics to choose from, all accented with local flavors and featuring the freshest indigenous – and whenever possible organic – ingredients procured from the state’s best specialty farms and growers. Some of the menu items are simply nostalgic, some innovative variations on popular dishes, others sizzling from a wood-fired rotisserie or twists on classic home cooking. An element of surprise is common to all – as well as a healthier approach than the originals, including no trans fats, only hormone-free proteins, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, and replacing butter reductions with olive oils. The “three dimensional” design philosophy of the chefs strives to make every dish a masterpiece of flavors, textures and presentation – though true to the influences of Frank and Albert, designs are simple featuring rectangular and block cuts.
4. The Glendon Bar & Kitchen, Westwood, California
The Glendon has all of the trappings of Hollywood sophistication combined with a great bar without the velvet rope attitude. It’s opening signifies a change of the guard in Westwood…from a college town to an epicenter of sophisticated nightlife. The cuisine is top notch California bistro, and the desserts are to die for-TLC’s “Cake Boss” star and TLC’s “Ultimate Cake-Off” winner, Renee Faris, is the in-house pastry chef. Wine is listed by “first date”, “second date”, and “third date.” Appetizers and desserts are served until last call, and an all day reduced price martini menu has resurrected the martini lunch, while double nightly happy hours keep the place going ’til last call.
5. La Bastide Bistro, San Diego, California
La Bastide Bistro is an affordable, family-friendly bistro in the Scripps Ranch area of San Diego that specializes in French, Parisian cuisine. The owner, Gilles, likes to call his restaurant the Tour de France for Food. He is quite a character. They specialize in Duck Confit. He also sells a Lavender Honey and a Truffle Vinaigrette that he uses in some of his dishes. Fabulous stuff. Many diners proudly proclaim that the Fisherman’s Stew is undeniably the best seafood dish they’ve ever had. Made with shrimp, scallops, mahi, sea bass, mussels, vegetables in a fabulous tomato-based sauce, it is fantastic.
6. La Mer, Oahu, Hawaii
La Mer, Hawaii’s only AAA Five Star restaurant for 19 consecutive years, is Halekulani’s French fine dining establishment. The internationally-acclaimed menu at La Mer features Neoclassic French cuisine. The native ingredients for each dish are inspired by flavors from the South of France producing a dining experience that is unrivaled by anywhere else in the world. Guests who dine at La Mer also receive unparalleled world-class service along with seating that overlooks elegant oceanfront views.
7. Piccolo Venice, Los Angeles, California
Piccolo Venice continually raises the bar for fine dining in Los Angeles with superior service, outstanding northern Italian cuisine and an extensive wine list. Piccolo has been recognized as one of the L.A. areas top dining destinations since it’s opening in 2004. Chef Roberto Ivan, who came to Piccolo in 2006, combines the best of California’s seasonal cuisine with inspiration from his home town of Piedro. The menu includes homemade pastas, breads and desserts, and is changed frequently, taking into consideration what is fresh and in season. Chef Bobo prides himself on using the most quality ingredients available, and using those ingredients to prepare and execute dishes that are truly unique to Piccolo. Sommelier Pietro Biondi’s_comprehensive wine list rounds out the menu, making for a truly unforgettable dining experience. Enjoy dinner and people watching on Venice Beach’s eclectic boardwalk in a refined, tasteful, welcoming environment, recently expanded and re-designed, the new space offers a private wine cellar, which can accommodate parties of up to ten people. In 2007 Zagat rated Piccolo as “The Best Italian Restaurant” in Los Angeles.
8. Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar, Maui, Hawaii
What began in 1996 as a small, off-the-radar “chef hangout” in an unremarkable location in the no-longer-standing Kapalua Shops on Maui has grown into what can only be called a brand. Serious food lovers know that chefs instinctively sniff out the very best. That’s what Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar was then, and it certainly is that now…only more so. The force behind the food is Chef/Owner Dave “D.K.“ Kodama. An O’ahu native, he spent more than a decade working and traveling through the Mainland, Mexico and the Caribbean to hone his culinary and management skills. He is fearless when it comes to flavors and one of the most adventurous chefs – and diners! – you will ever meet. At Sansei he has combined his own Japanese heritage with Hawai’i’s incredible ethnic mix and the flavors he experienced in his travels to create a style that is definitely a thing unto itself. New Wave Sushi, Japanese-Inspired Pacific Rim, Contemporary Japanese. Call it whatever you like. What you will taste are unique combinations of flavors and textures. And you will keep coming back for more.
9. Sienna, El Dorado Hills, California
We are a casual upscale, contemporary restaurant serving affordable priced, California cuisine with Asian inspired flavors. Our gorgeous 9500 square foot building includes a main dining room with an oversize gas fireplace, a stunning, spacious white travertine bar, an intimate, a private dining room for up to 35 guests with a 50″ plasma TV, a chef’s table located in the enormous kitchen for up to 10 guests, and two outdoor patios are set amongst lush, greenery, white lights and two more gas fireplaces. Our unique features are our incredible dining experience in the heart of our state of the art kitchen. The chef prepares a special 5 course meal with wine pairings for your guests and interacts with the table. The guest enjoys a delightful dinner and takes in the sights, sounds, and aromas of the kitchen. Second, we offer what we call our “Fitness Special”. This is a new dish we create with 450 calories or less, a different one is offered for lunch and dinner. We change these dishes once a week and post the new items on our Facebook page. Our chef has created some very tantalizing, tasty selections and the guests love this option!
10. Simon LA, Los Angeles, California
Echoing Sofitel Luxury Hotel’s zest for fine foods, Simon LA is a celebration of good taste with its cutting-edge cuisine and captivating decor. Led by the unofficially known “Rock n’ Roll Chef” Kerry Simon, the restaurant features the freshest seasonal ingredients combined with a unique creative style as a salute to Simon’s favorite foods. Patrons of SIMON LA are treated to Simon classics including Yellowtail Carpaccio laced with cilantro, mint and citrus vinaigrette and Bluefin Tuna Tartare spun with lemongrass oil and chives. The atmosphere of the restaurant is pure ambiance. Not only does the food allure customers, but the layout of the restaurant is breathtaking: the room is a mlange of brilliant greens, with sweeping ceilings and features of earth, wind and water. Simon LA’s private setting is a great location for working lunches and dinners or an intimate rendezvous.
Please note that due to issues with our last contest, there are strict regulations on voting. Additionally, our system audits for fraudulent votes.