Little Black Book

Where to Get a Good Meal in and Around Scottsdale

by Gio Osso
Virtu Photo courtesy of Virtù Honest Craft.

Where do you go for good food in Scottsdale? If you're chef Gio Osso of Scottsdale's Virtù Honest Craft, a James Beard Award semifinalist and Esquire Best New Restaurant, there are plenty of options — stick to the city's tried-and-true joints or take a drive for farm-fresh fare.

SCOTTSDALE — I moved to Scottsdale in September 2002 to help a friend open a restaurant. When I stepped outside the airport and it was 109 degrees, I thought, "Why would anyone in their right mind live here?" Three months later, it was a beautiful 78 on Christmas and stayed that way until April. I realized you can't shovel sunshine and decided to make Scottsdale my home.

The Phoenix metropolitan area, including Scottsdale, has changed a lot since I arrived. It's one of the fastest growing areas in the nation, and much of that growth is coming from its big cities. In response, local farms are producing more and better food, and restaurants are delivering higher-quality dining experiences. I opened Virtù Honest Craft in the Arts District of Old Town Scottsdale in 2013 and it’s been my culinary passion ever since. When I’m not hard at work, here are the places I love in and around Scottsdale.

Pig and Pickle
2922 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale; +1-480-990-1407
In the restaurant business, you work long hours, are on your feet all day, and are usually starving when your shift is over. I love stopping at this little place on my way home for late-night bites. Chef Keenan Bosworth makes a killer house-made charcuterie board, poutine with great Wisconsin cheese curds, and some ridiculous dry-rubbed wings that he won't share the recipe for.

4743 N. 20th St., Phoenix; +1-602-296-7761
A small, true farm-to-table spot in Phoenix owned and operated by acclaimed chef Chris Bianco. He works hard sourcing the best ingredients for his flagship restaurant Pizzeria Bianco, so it goes without saying that he does the same at Tratto. The format here consists of choosing a protein and sides to go with it. The menu changes often, but a standout dish is a local double-cut pork chop cooked in butter. The chickpea farinata are to die for.

Photo courtesy of Pig and Pickle.
Photo courtesy of Counter Intuitive.

Hot Noodles, Cold Sake
15689 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale; +1-480-432-9898
Ramen isn't something new, but we’ve seen a huge spike in ramen shops opening in the area. This place stands out from the crowd, even though it looks like a typical ramen shop from the outside. Chef Josh Hebert has something special here and I'm a big fan. The miso ramen is one of my favorites.

Counter Intuitive
7133 E. Stetson Dr., Scottsdale; no phone
I love an inspiring cocktail every now and again and this great little bar is the place to get one. It’s a new experience every time, as the theme, decor, and branding change every few months. Jason Asher is the visionary behind it all and was GQ's Most Inspired Bartender in 2010. He used to cook in my kitchen before transitioning to front of the house and he brings that culinary expertise to the bar. They also have a tiki bar called Under Tow that is just as great.

Little Miss BBQ
4301 E. University Dr., Phoenix; +1-602-437-1177
I love BBQ. One of my favorite best spots anywhere is Little Miss BBQ in Phoenix. Chef Scott Holmes makes amazing house-made sausage, but the true star of the show is his brisket. I don't think I've had better, ever. The spot opens at 11 a.m., but if you're not there by 10 at the latest, you'll be waiting in a very long line. That's how good it is.

The Breadfruit & Rum Bar
108 E. Pierce St., Phoenix; +1-602-267-1266
My go-to in Phoenix for Caribbean and Jamaican fare from chef Danielle Leoni, who makes beautiful, composed plates and out-of-this world cocktails.

Photo courtesy of The Breadfruit and Rum Bar.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Wilderness Brewing.
Photo courtesy of Little Miss Barbecue.

Arizona Wilderness Brewing
721 N. Arizona Ave., #103, Gilbert; +1-480-497-2739
A must-visit in Gilbert for beer-lovers. The guys here are crazy creative with the product they put out. There’s also a nice tap room that serves snacks, salads, and burgers.

Virtù Honest Craft
3701 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale; +1-480-946-3477
Yes, this one's mine! We constantly change our menu, but there are a couple of dishes we can’t take off, otherwise people would freak out. One is octopus with Calabrese chile butter, lemon-marinated chickpeas, aged balsamic, and fennel arugula salad. The other is an asparagus dish with duck egg, foie hollandaise, truffle drizzle, and bacon candy. Ahead of our fifth anniversary we underwent major renovations, adding a beautiful enclosed patio and a wine room to show off our expansive wine collection. The locals love it and so do the tourists when they come to town during the winter months.

Scottsdale Museum of the West
3830 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale; +1-480-686-9539
A new, gorgeous museum exhibiting everything from sculptures and pottery to beautiful fine art. It’s a great way to get familiarized with the Old West and work off a meal at Virtù, which is right across the street.

Pane Bianco
4404 N. Central Ave. Phoenix; +1-602-234-2100
I feel like a cheerleader for Chris Bianco, but his little Phoenix spot is great for lunch. The freshly baked bread coming out of the Italian-imported, wood-fired oven makes his sandwiches surreal. You can put American cheese singles on that bread and it would still make for an amazing sandwich. My favorites are the standard sopressatta with winter relish and the house-made mozzarella with basil, olive oil, and peppers.

Schnepf Farms
24610 S. Rittenhouse Rd., Queen Creek; +1-480-987-3100
Arizona peaches are incredible. I would put them up against Georgia’s any day. Every June, I take the kids to Schnepf’s to pick our own. The U-pick farm has a ton of different stone fruit varieties, and plenty of other produce to pick year-round. They also host a ton of activities come holiday season, starting with Halloween.

5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley; +1-855-245-2051
For some high-end fare, head to the restaurant at Sanctuary Resort and Spa. The dining room is tucked into Camelback Mountain and has spectacular views of the valley, especially at sunset. (It’s one of the most breathtaking ones I’ve ever seen.) The ambiance is romantic and the dining experience is top-notch — the kitchen is led by Iron Chef winner and Food Network personality Beau MacMillan.

The courtyard at Bespoke Inn Scottsdale. Photo courtesy of Bespoke Inn Scottsdale.
Photo courtesy of Bespoke Inn Scottsdale.

Where to Stay

Bespoke Inn
3701 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale; +1-844-861-6715 
Located above Virtù Honest Craft, the boutique hotel, the only bed and breakfast in Scottsdale, is reminiscent of a villa in Italy or the south of France. It’s walking distance from everything, and the bonus is you get to see me at the restaurant! Rooms are stunning, each with a unique design. A couple even have full kitchens, sitting rooms, and more. A dip in the negative edge pool above the restaurant makes for a relaxing way to spend a few hours.

Sanctuary Resort and Spa
5700 E. McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley; +1-855-245-2051
A big five-star property on Camelback Mountain with lots of high-end amenities and a fun, not stuffy vibe. The spa is first-rate and accommodations are outstanding. The villas are private and more like large houses than hotel villas. The views are fantastic, and the first-class concierge takes care of whatever you need.

Keep Exploring Scottsdale

A Nature Lover's Guide toScottsdale, Arizona
Reflections on Scottsdale an Oasis in the Sonoran Desert
Desert Vacations Come Daily in Scottsdale

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