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May 14, 2008 08:46 AM
Discussion - best of?

Oregano's is the readers choice in almost every catagory? How is that possible?

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  1. From the comments, others are suspicious that the chain had people voting overtime.


    And oh gosh, P.F. Changs??!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: lapazlinda

      The results do give the impression that somehow the fix was in.

      But also, I have the sense that most people who really care about food tend not to vote in these things. One reason I don't vote in these is because, even if/when the fix isn't in, I figure the chains will get the most votes, regardless of how they stack up against local restaurants. I stopped paying attention to newspaper reader's choice contests long ago after seeing seeing BlimpWay and Papa Jomino's win in their respective categories year in and year out.

      Even though I think stuffing the ballot box is sleazy, I doubt it will affect how often I eat at Oregano's, which at this point is about once every 3 or 4 years.

      1. re: hohokam

        I first encountered this sort of ballot, maybe 40 years ago in New Orleans. Both of the, then, dailies did them, plus two alternative papers. The results were always about the same. The few differences followed the particular newspaper over the years. If we agreed with two, out of usually 100, it was a rare day.

        The same thing held true, when we moved to Denver. Obviously all of the iron palete folk had move with us. Twenty years (two dailies and two alternative papers) did not find much change. Also, the categories got even more absurd, and less food-oriented.

        Then we moved to The Valley. Things did not change, except that there was one daily, two semi-local and a couple of alternatives. Same stuff. I saved the first few AZ Republic "Best 100 Food Destinations," or similar, even though I could not imagine why so many chains were at the top of their category. In short order, I began to discover some great restaurants, none of which were even mentioned in those two editions. Thank goodness, there was recycling in PHX.

        However, I feel much the same about the Wine Spectator's "Top 100 Wine Restaurants." I've dined at over 50% and have been gravely disappointed in most of their top choices - these have NOT been great wine resaturants.

        Other than follow links on CH, and getting my yearly laugh, I discount these totally.

        Thanks for my laugh,


    2. I was coming to post specifically about this as well. It is clear that Oregano's stuffed the ballot. Obviously, readers choices sometimes tend towards the ordinary, but there is no way that they could have won all categories (in fact I am surprised that they didn't win best sushi as well).

      Bad form for those guys, and I think this will come back to haunt them (it is quickly become obvious that they manipulated the results).

      Who knows, maybe John Q. Public won't be aware, and will dine there now, since they are clearly "Arizona's Favorite Restaurant", but those of us who know, will avoid the place now like the plague.

      The AZ Republic should have caught this as well, as this completely devalues the validity of their feature.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Booger

        I tend to agree with you. I had not dined there, until a family member was in the hosptial in Scottsdale, with a branch across the street. I think that I ate there (both in and take out) three times. Every meal was good, albeit nothing to suggest that I needed to drive to find one of their locations, especially with other really great Italian restaurants in the Valley. The food was not bad, was a decent value, but that was all. Heck, I feel that I do better pizzas in my own kitchen.

        Surprised that they didn't get "Most Romantic," and "Best Mexican... "


        1. re: Booger

          You have to take into account that this was the readers' poll, not that of the critics. It's just a variation of the old saying, never underestimate the taste of the American public. There must be more people out there who eat to live than those of us who live to eat.

        2. While it is a bit fishy to win so many, people are obsessed with this place. On an average night at peak hours, they usually have waits that are second only to Pizzeria Bianco (at least I've never been anywhere else that will quote an hour or two wait). While PB is obviously better pizza (as is many other options on the "runner up" list), I would say far more people actually eat at Oregano's, with multiple locations, each with significantly more seating that some of the other places. It is a bit ridiculous for them to have won so many (especially things like best sandwich, best italian?).

          1 Reply
          1. re: crsin

            You've hit on the main point. For every 1 valley resident that eats at PB, there's probably 100 eating at Oregano's. Most people I know have never been to PB (I have, but not often....I love it). But pretty much everybody I know goes to Oregano's on a semi-regular basis. That's why you can never take these public-poll things seriously; you always get the Olive Gardens and Red Lobsters showing up because like it or not, for the vast majority of the public, that's their only experience with Italian or Seafood dining, so that's what they vote for.

            And to be honest, Oregano's does what they do *very* well. And things like "best dessert" may seem strange, but I'm not afraid to admit that their Original Pizza Cookie (or whatever they have to call it these days) is my favorite dessert of all time, period. I'm actually happy to see a local-grown business doing that well. I have a feeling that if they were a single-location family run spot with the exact same menu and food, people here would fall all over themselves talking about how great Oregano's was.

          2. I say shame on them. I have exchanged numerous emails with Howard Seftel on the dining reporting on AZCentral and he is at odds with the 'powers that be' on their handling of the subject. As long as they continue to not take it seriously, I will only read his reviews and dismiss most other recommendations they provide, especially 'best ofs'.

            2 Replies
            1. re: azhotdish

              i agree 100% with azhotdish and hohokam.

              personally - i don't get the fascination with oreganos. i liked the one that was downtown and now skylounge the best ouf of any i'd ever visited, and even that must be pushing a decade ago. i think their food is just ok. the pizookie/whatever the name dessert is pretty amazing. but its kind of hard to screw up half-cooked cookie dough and scoops of ice cream.

              while i like to see a local business of any kind, chain or indie, do well, for me i think pf changs does a better job in the flavor department. i know its not 'real' or 'authentic'. but for 10 bucks i can get scallops, noodles, and leftovers. its not going to rock my culinary world, but it'll do in a pinch. sue me, i know. ive been known to frequent local chains ;)

              1. re: winedubar

                I'm definitely in line here too. The list is a complete joke. I do like to read Seftel though. What a bummer to have this list out there as a public take on AZ food. Guess it'll keep the lines at our favorites shorter though. Look what Diners, Drive Ins & Dives has done to Matt's. Maybe it's a good thing in reality?

            2. The "Best of" on is a complete joke.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Their poll does not have a corner on this market. It is the same in just about any city as one sees chains often dominating the results. Totally worthless exercise.