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AZCentral.com - best of?

achicken May 14, 2008 08:46 AM

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

http://www.azcentral.com/ent/best/200...

  1. l
    lapazlinda May 14, 2008 09:13 AM

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

    Yuck.

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: lapazlinda
      hohokam May 14, 2008 09:37 AM

      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.

      Edit:
      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
        Bill Hunt May 14, 2008 07:07 PM

        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,

        Hunt

    2. b
      Booger May 14, 2008 09:25 AM

      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
        Bill Hunt May 14, 2008 07:16 PM

        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... "

        Hunt

        1. re: Booger
          k
          kittyfood May 17, 2008 10:11 AM

          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. c
          crsin May 14, 2008 09:42 AM

          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
            b
            boingo2000 May 14, 2008 10:30 AM

            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. azhotdish May 14, 2008 10:17 AM

            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
              winedubar May 14, 2008 10:38 AM

              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
                ccl1111 May 14, 2008 02:54 PM

                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. ipsedixit May 14, 2008 10:26 AM

              The "Best of" on AZCentral.com is a complete joke.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit
                a
                AzDumpling May 14, 2008 10:33 AM

                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.

              2. Firenza00 May 14, 2008 10:49 AM

                Let me start off by saying I do like Oregano's. Heresy or not, I love their thin crust pizza and a couple of their sandwiches. But Best Sandwich? No. Not even Best Pizza.

                Did the print issue actually give vote counts? I'd love to see the breakdowns. Then again, this is a Best Of list that has several chains listed as runners-up in "Best Non-Chain Hamburger". Even the winner is technically a chain. It's got multiple locations. That's a "chain" to me.

                As for the AZCentral reviewers other than Seftel, I've heard horror stories. I guess that's why we have all of us and CH, right? :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: Firenza00
                  hohokam May 14, 2008 11:19 AM

                  Yeah. I actually like the thin crust pizza at Oregano's too, certainly much more than that at any other chain, but not enough to make a special trip there or to nominate it for Best of Phoenix.

                2. silverbear May 14, 2008 11:03 AM

                  These reader's choice awards are always a joke, but people take them entirely too seriously when they use them as fodder for Phoenix-bashing. Does the #1 ranking of Oregano's mean the local dining public is less sophisticated than their counterparts elsewhere? Not necessarily. Instead, it means that the aggregated vote totals reflecting multiple locations of Oregano's allow it to overtake the single location vote totals for one-site pizzerias like Bianco, Classic Italian Pizza, LGO, La Bocca, Cibo, Humble Pie, etc.

                  If the Republic really wanted to put some integrity into this poll, it would force participants to vote for a specific location of a chain restaurant and not allow generic voting based on just naming a chain. It would then keep the vote totals for each location separate in the tally, essentially forcing each location to be evaluated as a standalone restaurant. If the Oregano's, Olive Garden, or whatever chain at a specific corner is really great, it would still rise to the top, but combined vote totals for multiple locations would not allow a chain to surpass a single-site operation of higher quality.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: silverbear
                    ipsedixit May 14, 2008 11:19 AM

                    If the AZ Republic had any sense, they would normalize the votes for chain (or chain-type) restaurants.

                    Maybe something like divide the number of total votes by the number of total restuurants ...

                    1. re: silverbear
                      Bill Hunt May 14, 2008 07:21 PM

                      The one possible problem, that I see with this, is the multi-location restaurants might well overwhelm all others. Imagine Oregano's taking all ten places for each category, that they won - no one else even showing up. How bad would THAT be?

                      Hunt

                    2. b
                      Booger May 14, 2008 11:25 AM

                      To be clear, I have no opinion on Oregano's food or other quality, and that isn't what this thread is about.

                      I am offended that they stuffed the ballot box, and more offended that the Republic didn't have enough sense to figure that out, and stop it.

                      Makes this, and all future Republic "Best Of" polls completely worthless in my book.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Booger
                        b
                        boingo2000 May 14, 2008 11:37 AM

                        Admittedly I didn't look closely at the results - is there a reason that everybody assumes they stuffed the ballot box? Oregano's certainly seems popular enough with the masses (just drive by most of their locations anywhere even close to lunch or dinner time and you'll see lots of people standing around waiting for a table) to have done well legitimately.

                        In any case, these things just can't be taken seriously...that's *always* been the case. The very format pretty much guarantees that multiple-location, masses-friendly places will win.

                        1. re: boingo2000
                          hohokam May 14, 2008 11:42 AM

                          The fact that they won in just about every category where they could plausibly compete (e.g., pizza, sandwich, Italian restaurant, worth the wait, dessert, patio dining, place for a first date) seems just a little fishy. Speaking of fishy...I checked the sushi category just to see if they had somehow taken first place there too. ;-)

                          1. re: hohokam
                            a
                            AzDumpling May 14, 2008 11:47 AM

                            Perhaps next year Pizza Hut will compete with Jack-in- the-Box to see which can get the highest vote totals. They always seem to have a fair sized amount of business also.

                            1. re: hohokam
                              silverbear May 14, 2008 01:34 PM

                              Funny. I submitted a snarky comment under Indian restaurants asking why Oregano's hadn't won that category.

                        2. a
                          AzDumpling May 14, 2008 11:27 AM

                          Kind of funny really to listen to a group of people who can tell good food from bad discussing this. Given that, by conservative estimate, probably 70% of the restaurants in the metropolitan area are not very good but manage to stay in business makes the fact clear that the majority of the people really do not have very good taste. The results of any poll like this really should surprise no one. The only real surprise is that Azcentral apparantly was a little bit too thick between the ears to recognize obvious ballot stuffing and not simply throw out the Oregano's votes. The result really does them a disservice by having so many categores won by one restaurant. It cheapens the entire excercise even more than it would have been if it had been done properly.

                          1. minnesota foodie May 14, 2008 11:46 AM

                            What I found interesting was how Oregano's could win best 'Worth the Wait' and best 'Quick Food'??

                            1. azhotdish May 14, 2008 11:56 AM

                              They allowed one vote per person per day in each category, which pretty much guarantees a skewed result. Will someone's "best of" opinion change over the course of a month, moreover a day? It's not happening.

                              We can all ignore the poll, but when our favorites close down and there's a line outside Oregano's and Cheesecake Factory, pardon my e-tears.

                              1. m
                                Mahilover May 14, 2008 12:49 PM

                                Ok, does anyone know the average demographic (or intelligence level for that matter) of an AzCentral Reader?? Judging by some of the comments on the other articles, I wouldn't say they're targeting the brightest and most cultured people. That said, I will go on record as saying Oregano's has some very good pizza and salads, and great wings. However, "best pizza" and "place most worth the wait"?? Come on.

                                AZDumpling hit it right on the head when he said 70% of restaurants in central Phoenix are mediocre, and are only hyped by people who generally do not have good taste. Most people here gravitate towards simple, family style restaurants that serve chain style food, so this is no surprise to me.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Mahilover
                                  silverbear May 14, 2008 01:38 PM

                                  Actually, AZ Dumpling said 70% in the metro area, not 70% in Central Phoenix. Personally, I think the ratio of good to bad would be higher in the central area because the national chains tend to concentrate on suburban venues.

                                  I'll also take issue with your statement about "most people here." In actuality, I'd say it's most people everywhere. Reader's choice tends to equal mediocrity just about anywhere it's done. It's just the immediacy and poor design of AZ Central's survey that has us up in arms.

                                2. m
                                  Mahilover May 14, 2008 12:51 PM

                                  Also, I just saw Ra Sushi won best sushi...yuck. That should tell you something right there.

                                  1. a
                                    AnonymousWaitress May 14, 2008 01:13 PM

                                    At least carolina's got best neighborhood mexican! Although tee pee and ajo al's were on the runner up list. Whenever people tell me they're taking out of town visitors to the best mexican food in phoenix, tee pee, i can only cringe, i've given up on arguing.

                                    1. ejs1492 May 14, 2008 01:15 PM

                                      I don't think that AZ Central, or any "best of" for that matter, is representative of the "foodie world." Lets face it: most people don't have the interest or the means to frequent many of the places mentioned on this board. We are all very fortunate to have food as a "hobby." I remember several years back when The Olive Garden won "Best Italian" and it didn't really surprise me; for most people, that IS Italian food to them. And there is nothing wrong with that. Not everyone can - or even wants - to be a chowhound. For a lot of people, a night out at the Olive Garden is decadent. And that's okay.

                                      Sure, results like these discredit the survey as a "serious" evaluation of the food scene. The mere fact that Oregano's is all over the valley means that more people will experience it than Humble Pie and, therefore, they'll get more votes. Despite that the ballot box was probably stuffed (and there are a few "hanging chads"), Oregano's will get more votes merely by virtue of its larger presence exposure to more people.

                                      So, in my humble opinion, it comes off as a bit elitist to hem and haw over the results of the AZ Central survey. Chowhounds know where the good stuff is and are lucky enough to be able to experience it. And it's not all about the dollars either; I'm not saying that you have to be wealthy to enjoy good food. A great meal can be had at Binkley's or the taco stand on the corner, and everywhere in between. People who vote for Oregano's aren't less intelligent or less cultured that you or I; they've just been exposed to different things.

                                      As a sidenote, I do think that Oregano's makes a good thin crust pizza, the service has always been very good, the employees enthusiastic, and I agree that their cookie dough dessert is my consistent favorite. And it's also nice that Oregano's IS a homegrown success story and not a corporate chain like Olive Garden...

                                      Finally, if EVERYONE loved the places we all talk about here, then the wait at Bianco would be longer than it already is and the food at Binkley's would be dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator. So read the results with a grain of salt and look at the positive side.

                                      p.s. Try drinking the yummy remnants of your pizza cookie dough and ice cream with a straw. If I could bottle that flavor I'd be retired by now.

                                      10 Replies
                                      1. re: ejs1492
                                        silverbear May 14, 2008 01:49 PM

                                        Elitist? -- guilty as charged, and proud of it. Seeking out the best and shunning mediocrity is a form of elitism that I embrace.

                                        That being said, I'll reiterate what others have said about Oregano's. I don't dislike it at all, but I seldom find it worth the wait. If it had won in one or two categories, I'd say it was no big deal, but the wins in multiple categories showcase the poor design of AZ Central's survey.

                                        As for the idea that Bianco and Binkley's would be corrupted by increased popularity, that's probably true. Nevertheless, let's keep in mind that for every Bianco or Binkley's, there are a dozen good independent restaurants that languish because they never have a chance to develop a cult following. azhotdish's comment "We can all ignore the poll, but when our favorites close down and there's a line outside Oregano's and Cheesecake Factory, pardon my e-tears." is right on target in showing the downside.

                                        I applaud your optimistic take, and I share it to a great extent, but I still think some healthy ridicule of the AZ Central survey is a good form of therapy for those whose hearts are broken by the skewed results.

                                        1. re: silverbear
                                          a
                                          AzDumpling May 14, 2008 02:10 PM

                                          I too have no problem with Oregano’s, until now possibly. I have had a number of satisfactory meals there and enjoy their food on occasion. What I find so troubling is not that they might legitimately have won in a popular vote in a couple of categories given their considerable following but that they won in so many categories, many of which they should probably not even have shown up as runners up in ( i.e. Best patio dining and Most worth the wait). I would not question the Republics polling techniques so much as I question the motives of the Management at Oregano’s who I believe clearly were aware of and orchestrated the voting to give the results that were obtained. I also find it incredulous that the Arizona Republic appears to have swallowed all of this hook, line and sinker. I personally do not give any credence to Best Of lists for many of the reasons cited above. I just find it somewhat offensive that such a campaign can succeed with the blessings of the largest newspaper in the state and that many deserving candidates were either bumped from top spots or not even mentioned in some categories due to the repeated presence of one brand at the top spot.

                                          1. re: silverbear
                                            scorpioscuba May 14, 2008 02:10 PM

                                            SB, well said!!

                                            1. re: silverbear
                                              ejs1492 May 14, 2008 04:36 PM

                                              I think we're in agreement, except that I don't like to be labeled as "elitist" regardless of the definition. I concur that healthy ridicule is in order - I generally don't subscribe to mass media reviews of ANYTHING - but I just don't find it hard to believe that, for most people, Oregano's probably really is something worth raving about. I mean, look at the wait!

                                              Having said that, there probably was some election fraud.....

                                              Another thought: suddenly everyone is embracing the quality of Seftel's reviews, but most of what I read about him here is people bashing him. Now he's a bastion of sanity at the Republic?

                                              1. re: ejs1492
                                                hohokam May 14, 2008 05:13 PM

                                                Hmm...I don't remember seeing a lot of Howie bashing on the board in the year or so that I've been posting. What negative comments I've seen are nothing compared to the beatings Bay Area "foodies" give Michael Bauer (of the SF Chronicle) on a regular basis--if it's Wednesday, it must be time to trash Bauer.

                                                In fact, my sense is that most people here respect Seftel, even if they don't agree with every single word he writes. But then again, I'm only going by what I've read over the past several months.

                                                1. re: ejs1492
                                                  azhotdish May 14, 2008 05:52 PM

                                                  ejs - Two years ago I noticed more frequent reviews offered online, and one in particular that raised an eyebrow. (http://www.azcentral.com/ent/dining/a...). I inquired to Seftel about who has the authority to dole out stars - he informed me that was solely his responsibility at the Republic. After a short investigation on his part, he recanted and referred me the dining editor, as the author of said piece had given it five-stars on their own accord.

                                                  To me, there is an ethos problem in that policy. Shouldn't a reviewer have some established credibility, even if you don't always agree? Using a star-rating system and then letting John Doe start passing out stars on an extremely subjective subject seems careless. Of course, that assumes the Republic wants to consider it a 'credible' news source. Let's not open that 'can of worms'.

                                                  There are restaurants traditional food critics won't ever visit, and Albuquerque Tortilla Factory is probably one of them. If the beat reporters are now acting as food critics, should their reviews be weighted as heavily (and turn up in search results)? At least to me, I don't like it. Without ethos, Robert Parker doesn’t taste wines, and James Suckling doesn’t smoke cigars.

                                                  I'm probably just too critical and not trusting enough. Or maybe I'm just hungry. But if you’re going to use a more objective measure like a star-rating, some trust is required.

                                                  My $.02.

                                              2. re: ejs1492
                                                ccl1111 May 14, 2008 03:23 PM

                                                The thing is I don't think the AZ Republic was always a popular vote list and in some years past had great results. I think I first heard of Binkley's a few years ago from the AZ Republic list.

                                                It's obvious they've gone a different way and it's sad because not everybody knows about Chowhound. I was born and raised here in AZ with stints elsewhere and for years, I used sites like the AZ Rep's best to find good places. I didn't find Chowhound until a couple years ago and it's just a bummer that folks have lost another gateway to good information

                                                I also didn't get what people were saying about Oreganos until I really went through the list. That is ridiculous.

                                                For the people that haven't gone through the list, the way the did it with the links to separate pages bugged me enough to pull the results all out. Also pulled all the Oregano's wins together to show the portion of wins so people can see what some are freaked out about.

                                                Oregano's wins:

                                                Dessert - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Pizza - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Family-owned Restaurant - Oreganos's Pizza Bistro
                                                Place for a First Date - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Worth the Wait - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Local Treasure - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Italian Restaurant - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Sandwich - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Quick (Non-Fast) Food - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Patio Dining - Oregano's Pizza Bistro

                                                All others:

                                                Breakfast - Crackers & Co.
                                                Indian Restaurant - Indian Maharaja Palace
                                                Neighborhood Mexican - Carolina's Mexican Food
                                                Bakery - Wicked Witch Bakery
                                                Late-Night Eats - Fez
                                                Salsa - Macayo's
                                                Sushi - Ra
                                                Wine Selection - D'Vine Bistro & Wine Bar
                                                Barbecue - Famous Dave's Legendary Pit Bar-B-Que
                                                Chinese - P.F. Chang's
                                                Takeout - - Oregano's Pizza Bistro
                                                Non-Chain Hamburger - Zipps Sports Grill
                                                Ice Cream/Frozen Novelty - Maui Wowi
                                                Middle Eastern Restaurant - Haji-Baba
                                                Splurge Restaurant - Fleming's
                                                Steakhouse - Donovan's Steak & Chop House
                                                Romantic Restaurant - Melting Pot
                                                Pub with Grub - Zipps Sports Grill
                                                Health Food Store - Trader Joe's
                                                Sunday Brunch - T. Cook's
                                                Thai Restaurant - Pink Pepper

                                                1. re: ccl1111
                                                  a
                                                  AzDumpling May 14, 2008 03:37 PM

                                                  Thanks for the work. Don't forget to edit takeout to the top list. Can't imagine how you could have missed it since there were so few mentions of Oregano's...LOL ;)

                                                  1. re: ccl1111
                                                    a
                                                    AZBconcierge May 14, 2008 03:44 PM

                                                    I'm sorry, but best quick (non-fast) food?

                                                    My friends and I always joke lets go to Oregano's and get our pizza tomorrow. 1 hour + wait time and then 40 minutes to have a pizza made is NOT quick. Quick is like 30 minutes in and out. I don't know why I even read the reader's choice part, as everyone just votes for their favorite trailer trash restaurants. I mean, c'mon, RA? Melting Pot as romantic?! WTF!

                                                    1. re: ccl1111
                                                      l
                                                      Leanne May 16, 2008 12:29 PM

                                                      Can I type two words please after seeing this list.... PINK PEPPER????? Seriously? That must be a typo right? Tell me it is? I worked at Trader Joe's while in college in what seems like a thousand years ago and while they have some healthy food- top health food store???

                                                  2. a
                                                    AnonymousWaitress May 14, 2008 03:45 PM

                                                    Let's give azcentral some credit, they do have a critics choice list which doesnt mention oregano's once!

                                                    1. j
                                                      jewel4352 May 14, 2008 04:32 PM

                                                      I think it is typical, not just Phoenix-area, but any metropolitan area for a chain restaurant to win. Chain restaurants (local or national) cater to the least common denominator and will win over the masses.

                                                      Ballot stuffing on the other hand is another story. But,

                                                      I'm from Minneapolis originally. I distinctly remember a local magazine running a similar poll annually. I laughed and laughed for days when the "Best Neighborhood Restaurant" was won by Applebee's. Can't knock 'em for a genius marketing campaign, but I was so incredibly disappointed with the voters for voting that one in. In this same magazine past winners also included Olive Garden and TGI Friday's for other miscellaneous categories.

                                                      1. Seth Chadwick May 14, 2008 05:35 PM

                                                        I am not surprised by the choices. By and large, Americans believe that popularity equals excellence. If the wait is two hours at Cheesecake Factory, then it must be the best! But if you were to ask people in line waiting for a table at CF why CF is better than, say, Richardson's, you would get a blank stare or they would say that CF must be better because the wait is so long.

                                                        A lot of it is the comfort factor. Some of it is ignorance. Some of it is simply that they buy into hype. Regardless, I take all of these "best of" polls with such a grain of salt because (ballot stuffing aside) we are hearing the voices of people who would never be caught dead in a Restaurant 28 or an El Nopalito or (insert small ethic joint here).

                                                        While I know those mom and pop places often fail because they can't get people in the door, I am pleased that I have finished my wonderful meal and am at home writing a report while the people who think CF is the apex of quality dining are just getting seated.

                                                        I would say that they don't know what they are missing, but I am not convinced they care anyway.

                                                        1. x
                                                          xanderbear May 15, 2008 06:05 AM

                                                          LOL! More like "Breeder's Choice", sorry I couldn't resist!

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: xanderbear
                                                            silverbear May 15, 2008 10:37 AM

                                                            I ressemble that remark! Keep in mind that we took our little one to Wahsun on your recommendation and we all loved it. Nice to finally meet you last week, by the way.

                                                            All kidding aside, your comment makes me think about something: The Republic and AZ Central are still trying to run one dining section for a huge metro area of 4 million. Maybe it's time to outgrow that approach. There are hundreds of thousands of people in places like Surprise, Buckeye, and Queen Creek who are unlikely to eat in Central Phoenix, Tempe, or Scottsdale. Likewise, I'm unwilling to go to any of those ultra-suburban locales unless something is truly spectacular.

                                                            At the same time, there's been some discussion in this thread about the role of Howard Seftel vs. the secondary restaurant reviewers who have been showing up lately in the Republic. The others aren't all bad, but Seftel is clearly the most discerning and the best writer.

                                                            Bringing those ideas together, it seems like Seftel should be the dining czar and write showcase reviews of high-profile restaurants and unique places that might have appeal throughout the metro area. The secondary reviewers should focus on neighborhood spots that might not attract customers from more than 10 miles away regardless of how good they are. In both the print and online editions, there would be a clear way to tell which reviews are zoned for which neighborhood. I think that the Phoenix area has become so large as to warrant that type of approach.

                                                            1. re: silverbear
                                                              azhotdish May 15, 2008 10:56 AM

                                                              I completely agree SB - this is an issue I have brought up with the features editor of the Republic late last year, but I never received a response.

                                                              1. re: silverbear
                                                                ejs1492 May 15, 2008 10:59 AM

                                                                Good idea. See, we do agree on SOMETHING? ;-)

                                                                1. re: ejs1492
                                                                  silverbear May 15, 2008 11:40 AM

                                                                  Actually, we agree on most things. Keep the good ideas coming.

                                                                  1. re: silverbear
                                                                    ejs1492 May 15, 2008 02:41 PM

                                                                    One day I'll buy you lunch at Oregano's..... :-)

                                                            2. s
                                                              sunshineinaz May 15, 2008 09:27 AM

                                                              Not sure if someone already mentioned this but was reading Jess Harter's blog and he mentions this...

                                                              http://thedish.freedomblogging.com/20...

                                                              1. k
                                                                kmarg May 17, 2008 11:44 AM

                                                                I think the conspiracy theory people can put down their outrage about ballot box stuffing. I took the Republic reader's poll this and the Oregano's win was easily driven by the poll format. they gave you 10 or so options in most categories and you got to pick. No write in's. No open nominations. Just a short list.

                                                                I was amazed at how many times I ended up choosing Oregano's based on the list they gave me. In the pizza category I had to choose between Oregano's and Sardella's.
                                                                No contest. If they want to fix this poll, they need a better way to take nominations.

                                                                And, by the way, I like Oregano's pizza just fine. And I do not consider a 6 store regional brand any where near the level of a national chain brand.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kmarg
                                                                  azhotdish May 17, 2008 02:43 PM

                                                                  There was actually a month of open balloting, with write-ins, before the final balloting; they took the top 10 nominations per category. You can see their methodology here: http://www.azcentral.com/ent/best/200...

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