First-time visits - North, Tutti Santi, Los Sombreros, Hammerheads Ocean Grill (North Glendale/North Phoenix)
We just recently moved from Boston to the Stetson Valley area in North Glendale/North Phoenix off of Happy Valley, and these are some of the places we visited in the last couple of weeks.
North: I really wanted to like this place. We visited twice, and I liked the atmosphere, modern Italian menu, service, wine list, and its proximity, but it's just too inconsistent. We liked the Caesar salad, calamari, and grilled artichoke appetizer (though as I mentioned in a previous post, I thought White Chocolate Grill's version of grilled artichokes were better). On a subsequent visit, however, the caesar wasn't as good, and a special of wild mushroom and truffle risotto was quite possibly the worst risotto we've ever had - in fact; my husband refuses to give the place another try. Bland, overcooked and gluey with no discernible aroma or taste of truffle. The roasted wild mushrooms topping the risotto, however, were very good.
Tutti Santi: We visited the newest one located at Citadelle (59th and Utopia). We'll definitely be back (thanks for the rec ArizonaGirl!). We were warmly greeted by the owner (Leon?), and our server, Jack, couldn't have been more friendly or helpful. No clunkers here - my husband was very happy with his veal marsala with a side of fettucini alfredo, and I ordered a delicious special of halibut with clams and mussels over capellini in a tomato/white wine sauce with capers and olives. We finished the meal off with the cannoli - nice crispy shell with a creamy, not-too-sweet filling. Because we had mentioned it was our first time there, Leon kindly sent over a tiramisu too. What a nice gesture; it just convinced us even more that this is a place we'll return to.
Los Sombreros: This lived up to its accolades. An extra bonus was the fact that though we called on the way and were told the wait was running about 40 minutes on a Friday evening, when we arrived, we were seated immediately in the full restaurant. What a nice beginning to a great meal. We started off with margaritas, of course, and the queso fundido with roasted poblano peppers with excellent house-made chorizo (leftovers the next day made a tasty huevos con chorizo). Dinner was the mole poblano for E, and for me a special of chile rellenos stuffed with crabmeat and corn. Great service, great food, great place.
Hammerheads Ocean Grille: This is just a few minutes away so we gave it a try tonight. Having read some negative reviews (too pricey, etc.), we were pleasantly surprised. We were told that there had been a recent change in menu, with prices lowered and new items added. We nibbled on the four-cheese artichoke dip with spinach and garlic with toasted bread rounds while we looked over the rest of the menu. E started off with the very good seafood bisque, while I tried the panko crusted shrimp. Five crispy, perfectly cooked shrimp highlighted by the mango chutney which was the perfect blend of slightly spicy/slightly sweet. E really enjoyed his meal of halibut with a caper beurre blanc, while I had the potato-crusted scallops. Both were ordered with a side of garlic mashed potatoes which E liked, but I thought were a bit too gluey (I should know better - I prefer mashed when made with red potatoes more chunky and less processed). Our affable server Chris, was great. When we mentioned we were from Boston, he brought us out a cup of clam chowder to try. I was leery of New England Clam Chowder in AZ, but this was really very good. Flavorful and creamy with plenty of minced clams and the perfect amount of black pepper. I'll order this the next time we visit. He also generously brought out a piece of bourbon pecan pie when I couldn't decide on whether to get dessert or not. How nice is that? Tuesday nights they have wine tasting and appetizers, and live music on the weekends.
20004 N. 67th Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85308
My husband and I also live in Stetson Valley and have LOVED Tutti Santi for years, but hated driving to 16th St to eat. Needless to say we were very happy when they opened at 59th & Utopia and we are trying the new location for the first time tonight. If you love Italian and live in the Stetson Valley area you should also try Fiorella's located at 67th & Happy Valley. Great food, great service and every time we go we are visited by the owner and she always remembers us and our kids :)