Romantic Phoenix Metro Restaurants Perfect for Date Night
For February, Eat Here First is all about romantic, date-worthy dining. Try hipster Mediterranean, chic French and sultry izakaya.
Love is in the air and miso-glazed cod is on the table this month, so I’m offering a trio of romantic dinner recommendations based on recent experiences in Phoenix and Scottsdale.
In Arcadia, I sipped California junmai sake from a cedar box of a Japanese izakaya, chunks of heavenly charred fish that I dipped in ginger butter. In Scottsdale, my dinner partner and I shared a plate of duck breast with roasted plums on the patio of a restaurant in the South of France. On another hike in Scottsdale, I enjoyed pizza and pasta in a bohemian, candlelit space run by a Michelin-starred chef.
When making your dining plans in February, I recommend looking for a reservation at one of these evening dinner spots.
Campo Candlelight Pizza
Imagine walking into a stylish Airbnb in the Italian countryside and finding a Michelin-starred chef hanging out in the kitchen. That’s the feeling I got when I sat down at Campo, a new neighborhood bistro owned by award-winning Valley chef Alex Stratta.
Antique landscape paintings in gilded frames hang next to funky potted ferns, giving the restaurant a vintage Mediterranean look that works best in the dim evening candlelight.
Campo’s pizza is a force to be reckoned with. The team worked with Noble Bread to develop a unique blend of rye and wheat flours as well as type 85 pizza flour for the dough, which is then baked in a Hearthstone oven until the sauce is set. fondue.
We ordered the Marco, which was topped with wide slices of Calabrian salami interspersed with Schreiner’s sausage crumbs and chunks of fresh basil. The crust bubbles and bursts into a fluffy bread puff that stands up to the tomato sauce and generous scatters of oily mozzarella in the best way.
Details: 8260 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale. 480-597-9195, campoitalian.com.
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Decadent duck in chic digs at Francine’s
I understand why on a Saturday night, Francine is the place. The Southern French cuisine at this famous restaurant in Scottsdale Fashion Square is just as enticing as the atmosphere, and dare I say it, even more compelling.
Francine’s menu is a collage of recipes from chef Laurent Halasz’s mother, after whom the restaurant is named, skillfully concocted by executive chef Brian Archibald. The cuisine is vegetable and light, made with olive oil rather than the buttery sauces for which Paris is famous.
The whole thing is adorned with edible flowers and scatters of fresh herbs.
Francine is a place where you can feast on oysters and filet mignon or nibble on a simple niçoise salad. The dish that made me swoon was the duck breast.
They looked like beets and tasted like cranberry juice, but the red circular slices on the plate were actually roasted plums. Their deep acidity was a perfect foil for the juicy duck, cooked to a striking rare and split in half to display its redness.
Details: 4710 N. Goldwater Blvd., Scottsdale. 480-690-6180, francinerestaurant.com.
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Impeccable Miso Cod at Nanaya Modern Izakaya
Nanaya opened in the summer of 2020 and specializes in “Japanese comfort foods” like ramen, milk bread sandwiches, robata meat skewers and fried snacks.
The bar occupies a substantial part of the main dining room. The dark wood paneled walls are filled with vintage Japanese posters.
The restaurant is serious about sake, with each selection marked with lines indicating where the wine sits on the sweet/dry and light/rich spectrums. But Nanaya also has an interesting list of drink cocktails that incorporate Japanese flavors like an old-fashioned black sesame and a margarita made with Japanese citrus paste yuzu kosho.
The miso cod is part of half a dozen entrees. It’s glazed in lush miso butter and seared to perfection with layers of gooey flesh and crispy edges. The fish is placed on forbidden earthy rice drizzled with ginger butter.
Sensual and downright flawless in its execution, the refined fish plate helped me understand what makes Nanaya so special. With its wide selection of Japanese dishes and sophisticated atmosphere, it’s an under-the-radar hangout worth checking out.
Details: 3603 E. Indian School Road, Suite B, Phoenix. 602-354-3532, nanayajapanesekitchen.com.
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