BY Victoria Stibrik
Traveling to Europe may not be in the cards right now, but the good news is the cards say nothing about eating like a European. Here’s a list of restaurants where one can go to get that authentic European experience without straying too far from home or making a huge mess in the kitchen. (Mimes and gondola rides down Venetian canals not included.)
George and Dragon English Pub
“Like I tell customers, you leave your passport at home. When you walk in the pub, you feel like you’re in England,” owner David Wimberley says. If one does go to G&D, they simply must try the fish and chips ($13.99), which Wimberley says has won the award for best in the Valley many times. And for those who just aren’t in a fish and chips kind of mood, Wimberley recommends their bangers and mash ($13.49).
George and Dragon Pub,
4240 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, 602-241-0018,
English Rose Tea Room
But maybe something a little more sophisticated is the mood, like eating finger sandwiches and sipping tea with pinkies out. Then English Rose Tea Room is the place to go. “It’s a little oasis in the middle of the desert where one can sit and relax and enjoy the utterly civilized pleasure of taking the time for tea,” says owner Jo Gemmill. The Duchess of Bedford’s Formal Afternoon Tea ($32) is the recommended item on the menu, and it comes with a variety of tea sandwiches, scones, petit fours and a pot of tea. There’s no required dress code, and reservations aren’t mandatory but are recommended because guests at the English Rose Tea Room are expected to stay for an hour and a half to two hours. “It’s not a fast-food cafe where you just come in and grab and go,” Gemmill says.
English Rose Team Room,
201 Easy Street, Suite 103, Carefree, 480-488-4812, carefreetea.com
Cornish Pasty Co.
At the Cornish Pasty Co., the pasty that must be ordered is the Oggie ($11), which is the traditional pasty with “steak, potato, onion and rutabaga, which lots of people won’t know what rutabaga is,” says Lauren Almeter of Cornish Pasty Co.
“It’s basically a root vegetable that doesn’t taste like anything enough for you to know what rutabaga is. And then we serve that with our house-made red wine gravy, or some people prefer ketchup.” And if you’re really looking to get that full, authentic English experience, be sure order a side of mushy peas ($4.50). “It’s salted and seasoned a little bit, but it’s definitely a regional favorite that Americans may not ever think to order. But it’s definitely a traditional side dish,” Almeter says.
Cornish Pasty Co.,
960 W. University Drive, Tempe, 480.894.6261, cornishpastyco.com, see website for other locations
Le Zinqué, pronounced zin-kae, is a French play on the word “zinc,” which is what neighbor hubs are called in France because the counters are primarily made from zinc, co-owner Kristin Dossetti says. But the name isn’t the only thing taken straight from the French lifestyle.
“We do have some very special products that come directly from France,” Dossetti says. “The best example of that is our poilâne bread, and it comes directly from a bakery in Paris that has been a family bakery for generations, and we have it overnighted by Federal Express three times a week to all of our restaurants.” The bread is a mixture of flour and spelt, and it’s used in their tartines ($13-$17). Another special thing about the recipes at Le Zinqué is that they are all tested out at the Dossetti home before making it on the menu.
Le Zinqué, 4712 N. Goldwater Boulevard, Suite 110, Scottsdale, lezinque.com, see website for other locations
Voila French Bistro
Voila French Bistro has “more of a casual ambiance,” as described by co-owner Ségolène Gros. She recommends that customers order their le foie gras de canard ($39) because it’s her favorite. “I would also recommend our fish. All of our fish are fresh,” Gros says. “We’ve got a new supplier from Rungis from close (to) Paris, and all of our fish come from there, and it’s really high quality.” One can get their full seafood fix in one dish called La Choucroute ($34), which has scallops, shrimp, mussels, cod and salmon.
Voila French Bistro,
10135 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale, 480-614-5600, voilafrenchbistro.com
“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie,” or even if you’re just in the mood for some kind of Italian cuisine, then do go to Tomaso’s. “It’s like eating the food over there, but it’s made over here, meaning we use the same ingredients, the same techniques as they do in Italy, but we serve it in the American palate in our restaurant. It’s really as close to Italy as you can come,” chef and owner Joey Maggiore says. “All of the pastas are made (from) scratch, daily,” he says. It may be hard to choose from the nine handcrafted pasta dishes ($20-$42), but that’s just more incentive to go back and try the others.
Tomaso’s, 3225 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, 602-956-0836, tomasos.com
The Sicilian Butcher
But if Tomaso’s is a little too formal, there’s always the Sicilian Butcher, also owned by Maggiore. “We bring in only the best meats and prosciutto and imported cheeses from Italy, so we’re really trying to be the neighborhood Italian restaurant that serves exactly what you would get in Italy but at our place.” A quick glance at the menu and one can see that the Sicilian Butcher is the place to go if it’s a meatball kind of night. Maggiore says the Tomaso’s Sicilian meatballs ($18) are the most popular. “You eat that dish, sit outside with a bottle of wine—you might think you’re in Italy.”
The Sicilian Butcher, 15530 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 160, Phoenix, 602-775-5140, thesicilianbutcher.com, see website for other locations
The Sicilian Baker
And right next door to the Sicilian Butcher is the bakery, with Sicilian cakes and pastries and a build-your-own cannoli bar—the best kind of bar. “Everything is just like you would find if you were in the streets of Sicily,” Maggiore says. It offers 12 different flavors of cannoli cream, including Oreo and fig, and they come in a range of sizes, from mini ($2) to the Sicilian ($13).
But out of all the endless delectable combinations of shells and filling, filling and shells, Maggiore says the traditional cannoli with chocolate and candied fruits is second to none.
The Sicilian Baker, 15530 N. Tatum Boulevard, Suite 140, Phoenix, 602-612-5590, thesicilianbaker.com, see website for other locations
“It’s very welcoming. You feel like you’re on an island,” owner Nikki Zai says. “The whole ambiance, it just gives it a nice affect. It’s authentic. We have a fusion of Mediterranean, Greek, Middle Eastern. It’s a nice blend of countries.” The homemade lentil soup ($3.95) is very popular, as well as the gyros salad ($11.50). But let’s not forget: It’s all about the hummus, and Agápi Pita has just that, and it comes with two pitas ($5.95). “You can never go wrong with that,” Zai says.
Agápi Pita, 13802 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480-626-9224,
Olive and Ivy
“It’s a relaxed, warm and inviting atmosphere,” executive chef Jimmy Kenny says. “Olive and Ivy’s approach to life and dining are always to enjoy everyday moments with those who matter the most. Everything on our menu is slow cooked and prepared carefully so you can savor all the appetizing flavors in every bite.” And Olive and Ivy does not run short on appetizing flavors. “I would definitely recommend that you start your dining experience with the bacon-wrapped dates ($12),” Kenny says. “Those are one of my personal favorites.” And one cannot forget about the bruschetta ($5-$14), hummus ($12) or dessert ($3.25-$8).
Olive and Ivy, 7135 E. Camelback Road, Suite 195, Scottsdale,