Amuse-Bouches - October 2015

Written by Craig Outhier Category: Amuse Bouches Issue: October 2015
Group Free

First Bite: Nocawich
After months of agonizing foreplay, local restaurateur Elliot Wexler finally unsheathed Nocawich – his sandwich-centric spinoff of Noca, the fondly-remembered fine dining restaurant at 32nd Street and Camelback he shuttered last year. Without giving away too much – we’re reviewing Nocawich next month – here are three items we tried at the ASU-area sandwichery.
Lox and Bagel.
Wexler fastidiously sources his salmon from the east coast and gets his bagels from New York-based H&H, making for an exceptionally clean-tasting nosh.

What the Cluck.
Nocawich’s signature fried chicken sandwich is presented tall and proud. On the palate: Beats the hell out of Chick-fil-A.

The Pastrami.
Oh, lordy, the pastrami. House-cured at Nocawich, it comes out hot, thick and meltingly marbled – genetically closer to an elite brisket than something you’d find at your local deli.

777 S. College Ave., Tempe, 480-758-5322,

First Bite, Part Deux: Okra
The eagerly-awaited second-act from the Crudo braintrust had a soft (read: unpublicized) opening in late August. On night No. 2, the scene was scene-y, with fellow star chefs Bernie Kantak (Citizen Public House) and Stephen Jones (yard bird + larder) on hand to try Cullen Campbell’s new upscale Southern menu. Our early advice: Pair an order of fried headcheese (stay with us, now) with mixologist Micah Olson’s spectacular Dog Will Hunt contraption with bourbon, mezcal and silky pecan falernum.

5813 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602-296-4147,


Comings and Goings: Fall 2015
Some restaurants to greet, and some to bid adieu to, this fall.

Crust: It’s a pizzeria in Chandler, and that’s great, but the arguably more exciting news: Owner Michael Merendino recruited former Citizen Public House bar-meister Brandon Casey to start a cocktail bar in the basement. Dubbed The Ostrich, it will debut this fall.
Citrine: True to form, EVO chef Peter DeRuvo has something new in the works: An Italian fine-dining concept in fine-dining-deprived Tempe. DeRuvo is aiming for a lightning-fast opening in September, mere weeks after signing the lease.
Abyssinia: Finger-food fans rejoice: a new Ethiopian joint near the VA in CenPho.

Bistro du Lac: Merely six months after opening, the waterfront French bistro near Scottsdale’s McCormick Ranch is rebranding as Peter’s Cuisine with “some new menu items,” according to an employee.
Los Sombreros: It was a short run for Azucena Tovar’s North Scottsdale spinoff of her popular SoSco eatery (where you can still get her insane lamb adobo dish).
Nabers Music, Bar and Eats: Chandler residents will have to find their daily allowance of music, bar and eats elsewhere.


Eater’s Triangle: East Coronado
The Seventh Street side of the Downtown ‘hood gets most of the food-writing love, what with Urban Vine, Green, America’s Taco Shop, et al. But the other side is doing pretty well of late, too.
La Santisima Gourmet Taco Shop.
You might know it better as La Condesa – a name it had to forfeit due to a trademark dispute. Also know this: The masa quesadillas are the best in the Valley.
1919 N. 16th St.,
Phoenix, 602-254-6330,

Couscous Express.
Hot tip: You’ll be reading more about this Moroccan diner and its already-legendary date shakes in next month’s PM.
1915 E. McDowell Ave.,
Phoenix, 602-252-7777,

Wren House Brewery.
The newly-opened brewery, set in the old Simply Bread building on 24th Street, boasts a small but exceptional flight of craft beers. For lager fans: the honey-kissed Señor Gallo Vienna is one of the state’s best.
2125 N. 24th St., Phoenix,