"Arizona Eats": Tacos Chiwas, Boozy Brunch Bar, Bella Gusto
Season 10 Episode 9 | 26m 17s | Video has closed captioning.
Chef Mark Tarbell and his guests dish on 3 specials restaurants.
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Season 10 Episode 9 | 26m 17s | Video has closed captioning.
Chef Mark Tarbell and his guests dish on 3 specials restaurants.
Problems Playing Video? | Closed Captioning
- [Narrator] And now an Arizona PBS original production.
- I'm Chef Mark Tarbell.
Welcome to "Check, Please!
Arizona," the show where Arizona residents recommend their favorite restaurants.
Coming up, we have guests who are passionate about their picks.
They've dined at all three and are ready to share their reviews with each other and with you, right here on "Check, Please!
(jazz music) - [Narrator] Support comes from Copenhagen, featuring contemporary furniture from around the world.
Copenhagen is dedicated to providing comfort, craftsmanship, and customer service.
Located at copenhagenliving.com.
- Whitfill Nursery, proud to support Arizona PBS, a valley tradition since 1946.
Over 200 acres of Arizona grown trees, citrus and palms.
Complete custom design and installation, and Whitfill Nursery still does the digging.
- Hospice of the Valley, medical, social, and spiritual care for patients nearing end of life and support for their families, a not-for-profit community hospice, hov.org.
- I am Chef Mark Tarbell.
Welcome to "Check, Please!
In this episode, we're enjoying brunch, Italian and tacos.
Let's meet our diners.
Daniel Lawford was born and raised in the East Valley.
He studied urban planning at ASU, but switched careers and became a firefighter.
When he's not cooking in the firehouse, his favorite spot is a taco joint with a well-earned rep. Mark Lewis is an author and lecturer at ASU.
He's also an expert forager.
When he is in the mood to dine out, his choice is a restaurant serving up breakfast staples.
But first, Sylvia Cook is a former TV sports producer.
She now works at a community college.
In her spare time, she loves to travel and cook.
Her pick today is a pizzeria owned by two friends who are pulling out all the stops.
This is Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria.
(upbeat music) - Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria is a restaurant here in Chandler that specializes in Neapolitan pizza and homemade Italian food.
I'm Brittany Johnson and I'm the manager of Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria.
I always recommend people on their first time try both a pizza and a pasta, so they can enjoy both sides of our kitchen.
I think the biggest compliment that we've had so far is all of our guests who have either lived in Italy, or traveled to Italy, who come in and try our food and say it's just like what they tasted back in Europe.
Bella Gusto was started by our two chef owners, Matt and John.
They met back in 2009 when they were running the kitchens at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium together.
They worked there for a number of years before they decided to bring their concept to Arizona and open up Bella Gusto.
The ambiance at Bella Gusto is definitely a more comfortable neighborhood spot.
We tried to keep it a little upscale, but not so much that you wouldn't feel comfortable coming in just on the weekend or for happy hour.
The first thing you'll see when you walk into Bella Gusto is our oven.
A lot of people see the wood-fired oven and think just wood fire, but we're actually a more specific type of pizza.
We ferment our dough for a minimum of 36 hours to develop the flavor.
It's just four simple ingredients in there.
So the fermentation is really where our good flavor comes from.
I love our Il Finocchio pizza.
That's definitely been one of my favorites since we put that on the menu.
The combination of our homemade sausage, the fennel, the arugula on top, really just makes it an amazing dish.
I think that when you come in, you can really feel the chemistry between the two owners and everything they've put together in this concept.
Week by week, we see the same faces over and over.
And it really means a lot for them to come back and enjoy our food so many times.
- So, Sylvia, what is your favorite dish there?
- Okay, so my favorite dish actually is they have these spaghetti and meatballs that will make you pimp slap your mother.
They are phenomenal.
They're made with veal and there's garlic in there and then, they actually taught me how to make them 'cause I love to cook.
- No way.
They taught you?
'Cause I did get those, they are super tender.
- Oh my gosh and they baked them and then they put the sauce on there and I was like, "You've gotta put something else in this sauce.
"What are you doing in the sauce?"
Their secret, they put butter in the sauce.
- Butter makes everything better.
- That is a cool secret.
- They make their own pasta and you can taste the difference, to me.
- Yeah, I really noticed.
- Did you, did you notice that?
- I, I got a different dish.
I got the Cacio e Pepe.
But you could tell that the noodles were handmade by somebody in there and then the sauce, and then they came out and put extra, two different kinds of cheese instead of just the cheese that was advertised.
They put on this Grana Padano.
So it's that salty, - Salty and grainy.
- Yeah, Grana Padano is a great cheese.
They're all similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, 'cuz there was Pecorino, I think in this.
I had it too.
I love Cacio e Pepe.
So Daniel, what did you have to start?
- We started with the Burrata and the Phoenix South.
So, the Burrata was kind of, really nice piece of mozzarella cheese there.
And then kind of had a sweetened savory with like, a little apricot jam and then some kale, like wilted kale.
So, you kind of, you kind of put on what you wanted on each piece of bread.
And the phoenix salad was good, kinda, kinda Arizona ingredients, it seemed like.
And I wish there was a little more dressing.
It was pretty good.
The Limoncello Flight.
So, that kind of was a nice little taster as well of different things.
So I think they had, yeah, four different types and they were all pretty good.
- What'd you get for an entree?
- We went all pizza.
We went all in on, a few people and I went with, we had the Il Finocchio, which is kind of the, the fennel and arugula and it has roasted garlic.
Which is really good.
It was kind of better even the next day.
It seemed like, some leftovers and then some really great house made sausage.
They were like their meatballs, like, all their meat was really good, that they had on their toppings, the crust was, kind of nice char and chewy.
and kind of had a nice flavor.
So, all that one.
And then we also had the Sicilian, which had the meatballs on it as well.
And then a ricotta kind of sauce on it.
And that was really delicious.
- Sylvia, what'd you have?
- So I had the, okay.
They used to have a pizza there called the meaty pizza.
They will make it for you if you ask, but I had the El Jefe.
And it's close to the meaty pizza, but it's still really good.
Now, I just got back from Naples, Italy.
- Ooh, lucky you.
- The birthplace of pizza, right?
- Yes, it is.
- And I will tell you that this was as close to Naples, to me, that I have gotten.
And it was really, really good.
I always get a little extra cheese, mushrooms, and I love garlic, so I can never be a vampire.
- A new career choice.
- TV producer, vampire community college.
But the pizza to me, like you said, the dough, it's got that char on it and sometimes it's like a little bubble of the dark char or something that's on there.
And then they have the fresh mozzarella and the garlic, and all of that, and this, ugh.
It's like I need a moment alone.
But it's, I had that, and then I also had the calamari.
And the calamari is so light and it's just, yeah.
And they put a little lemon on there.
- [Chef Mark] Yummy.
- Yeah, it's, I've never made it to dessert though.
- Mark, did you have dessert?
- I did.
I wanted to make sure that I could have dessert.
So, I just got the light Cacio e Pepe and then took half of that home.
The dessert the server suggested to me, it's a Panna Cotta.
It was flavored with caramel, and then they had fruit on top of it.
And the two flavors together were perfect.
It was really, - [Chef Mark] The caramel and fruit together?
- Yeah, that was really good.
- Daniel, dessert?
- Yeah, I had the cannoli.
I'm always kind of a sucker for - [Chef Mark] Cannoli!
- [Daniel] For cannoli, yeah.
And it was good.
A nice little shell.
And the filling was, I think, the best part.
So, it was a normal cream filling.
And then I also believe there was like a, like a cinnamon and chocolate.
And both of 'em were, were good.
- What's the atmosphere like?
- Kind of family, kind of family atmosphere, kind of warm with the, the red walls, and nice paintings and then, yeah, my favorite part was just that, the big oven.
Right when you walk in and all the wood stacked up, and you kind of just smell the, the pizza's cooking right when you walk in.
- A lot of neat old pictures.
It kind to me, it feels like "Cheers," you know, where everybody knows your name, but the food is, to me, that's what brings me back, it's fresh.
It's the quality of ingredients.
You can really taste the difference.
So this is your pick, What is your pro tip or takeaway?
- Ask for the meaty pizza.
- All right.
- That's my pro tip.
- Daniel, what's your pro tip takeaway?
- I would say try all the pizzas.
They're all really good.
You can't go wrong.
- Let 'em take care of you.
- Let 'em take care of you.
- They, the server suggested a change to a beverage I always get, and it was better.
And she recommended the, the dessert and it was great.
And so, yeah, just let 'em, let 'em do what they know how to do.
- If you want to go try Bella Gusto Urban Pizzeria, they're located near Alma School and Warner in Chandler.
The average meal costs $36 and they take reservations.
(jazz music) Our next restaurant recommendation comes from Mark, a brunch place with endless choices.
And of course, adult refreshments.
This is The Boozy.
(techno music) - The Boozy is a fun brunch place for all different types of ages.
Breakfast or lunch, or even just for a drink.
We do a lot of different types of pancakes, not just your typical pancakes.
We do a lot of your french toast, Chilaquiles.
We do your steak and eggs kind of things.
The name Boozy.
We do a lot of customized drinks for the brunch atmosphere.
So we do a lot of different types of Mimosas, Bloody Mary's, and other fun drinks.
So, I'm a french toast guy.
So, I love our stuffy belly.
It's our French toast with our fresh berries, with the strawberries and blueberries, with cream cheese inside of it.
And it's really amazing.
The Boozy brunch bar.
When I built it out, I wanted it to a fun atmosphere.
But I also wanted it to be a little bit art deco, type of a look.
A little bit of the gold, the silver.
I want it to stick out and when people walk in, the different look to it, the different chandeliers to match the drinks that we offer with it.
On the weekends, we do get busy.
The crowd is more of a, a fun, hip, younger crowd.
We do live music.
The experience I want my customers to have, honestly, it's just I want them to enjoy the atmosphere.
I want them to enjoy the day.
I want them to leave with a smile.
Leave having something good.
- So Mark, I love breakfast, but why so boozy?
- I, I go up there every Sunday.
And I'm actually attracted to the farmer's market that's there.
And then one day I thought I'd go in, it was cold, so I thought, well, I'll get a hot chocolate or something.
I have never bought any of the alcohol there.
They even said to me, "you're killing us."
I usually get some kind of breakfast.
And this place is, I thought, every single time I go, really good for breakfast.
- What did you have for an entree?
- The entree I had was called the American Cowboy.
It's steak and eggs, potatoes.
The steak is a small piece of sirloin.
Really well cooked.
It, it's every time I've had it, it's just good char on the outside.
I always go for medium rare.
So I want it, you know, I don't want it to moo at me, but I want it, I want it a little, - Blue is blue.
And so that's one of the best steaks I've had in town.
The potatoes I always get, and they've always been good.
Not really, really salty.
Includes some bell peppers.
And then the egg is done to your request on top.
- How did you have yours?
- I always have it, so it'll, the yolk will run, so I can dip toast in it.
- So over easy, yeah, or, - I don't even know which one they did.
I just said make sure I can dip the toast in there.
- Dipping the toast.
- I have to disagree with you.
- I know.
- I love you.
- There's love in the room already.
- You're my friend, yes.
You're my friend.
So, the atmosphere is fabulous, right?
You know, and the drinks on the wall, and then that little martini thing on the wall.
- Like somebody's rec room or something.
I thought it was fabulous.
But those potatoes, oh, no.
- Did not, didn't, maybe you got a bad batch.
- I must have.
They were like, they tasted like, to me, that they were like, out of a bag and they were, you know, just, they weren't the roasted potatoes, they were, you know, and then I had big ol' chunks of bell pepper.
I mean, and so the size was off to me.
- What time did you get there?
- No, I did go Saturday at like 10 30.
So it was jam packed.
So maybe that could be the reason, you know.
- I always, I've always gone at seven.
There's almost no one there.
- And so it's quieter.
I, I haven't experienced that.
- So I'm a Benedict snob, right?
And I really like my really basic eggs Benedict.
But I went out on a limb and I tried the not so classy.
And it was carne asada, and the hollandaise sauce, and the verde sauce was, that was good.
And the egg was perfectly poached.
I mean the, like you were talking about the the, oh my gosh, the yolk came out.
I was like, I need a moment alone.
- It's like velvet.
And then I also had the strawberry stuffed french toast.
- So you had two?
- I had two, - Yay!
- I was a little hungry, but I wasn't really feeling that french toast.
It was like they, they did too much to it.
It was stuffed with cream cheese, and then they drizzled some type of frosting on top of it, and it was just too much, And it was cold.
Yeah, so, that was kind of disappointing, but, - Sounds like you like the classics though.
- I do.
There's certain things, you know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, man, so, yeah.
- I got it.
What did you have?
- Start with a latte, and then a Coco Loco mimosa.
And that was kind of bright and refreshing, and kind of fit with kinda the atmosphere.
- Coco Loco, tell me about that.
What was in that?
- It was kind of a coconut mimosa.
Yeah, so I had a little coconut, a little pineapple, I think, a pina colada mimosa, almost, it kind of tasted like, so it kind of bright and refreshing.
It's a great place for that too.
- What did you eat?
- And I got the dirty bird.
Which I'm usually not a gravy fan.
I love chicken waffles and, really good.
The fried chicken was crispy and juicy.
And then the gravy was kind of spicy, a chorizo gravy.
And it was, it was really good.
That was probably my favorite part.
- Well, you're a fireman.
You can, you can work that off.
I don't know how many times I did have it, but I mean, it was delicious but very rich, yeah.
But I will say service, you mentioned how good it was.
You know, the people could not have been nicer.
I was so shocked.
I'm like, where are you finding, this is great.
- I mean, cuz the moment I asked for something it was, you know, there.
I was like, "I need hot sauce."
And like, you know, within 30 seconds it was there.
I would say this, I would probably go back and maybe at a different time.
Because it was, it was when we went, we were seated immediately, but there was a line and there were people waiting there for like 30 minutes.
And it's a popular place.
That's pretty cool.
This is your restaurant, Mark.
Do you have any takeaways or pro tips?
- Get there early.
Make sure that you are not in a really, really crowded space.
It seems like the meals are better.
- Sylvia, pro tip?
- Don't go on a Saturday at 10:30 because it is very crowded, but it's a happening place, so, yeah.
- Yeah, Daniel?
- Yeah, I'd say just grab a drink and relax with friends.
- Yeah, one of those coco, - Yeah, Coco Loco.
- Coco Loco, yeah.
If you want to try to get boozy at The Boozy, it's located off 56th Street in Deer Valley, near the Desert Ridge Mall.
An average meal will cost $24, and they do take reservations.
(jazz music) Our last restaurant comes to us from Daniel.
This spot is run by a husband and wife team that's putting Chihuahuan cuisine on the map.
This is Tacos Chiwas.
(upbeat acoustic music) - Tacos Chiwas is, you know, my wife and I, our little brainchild.
It was always a way for us to kind of represent who we are and where we grew up.
And we're from Chihuahua, which is the reference to Chiwas.
So the menu, you know, it is very much things that we grew up eating.
We have tripa, we have chile Colorado, which is a red gordita or burrito.
We have everything from carne asada, we have calabacitas, that's a taco, it's a vegetarian dish, it's a Mexican squash.
You know, from a regionality standpoint, what happens is Chihuahua is, is a land locked state.
Very much like Arizona.
So we don't, we don't have a lot of reference to like, seafood.
So we're very protein forward.
The obvious we're going for here is just home, you know?
You're coming to my house.
The vibe is that anyone can eat here any time.
The back wall peppers is basically our reverence to the Chile Colorado, which has a huge impact in the culinary scene for Chihuahua.
Every year I drive to Chihuahua and bring 500 pounds of it back so that it's consistent for a full year's worth.
The whole idea with, with doing a taqueria is how do I make the best of each individual thing, right?
And the greatest compliment is like, "this taste is like my grandma made it."
And a lot of people who live in the United States, who aren't able to leave and go back home.
When they come here and they try something that specifically touches their, you know, heart, I'm telling you.
Like, it's, it's a wonderful feeling.
There's nothing, nothing else can kind of make, make it better.
- So Daniel, I know Armando and Nadia, how did you find this restaurant?
- I'm always on the hunt for a good taco and, you know, thankfully I live in Arizona, so there's, there's plenty of choices.
But I found their original location, their old location in Phoenix when I was working out there for a little while.
And then they luckily opened one up pretty close to, to my house in Mesa and started going there, and I fell in love with it back there.
And it was just, even went even more often now that it's so close.
- So, what's it like, what's the vibe there?
- It's energetic, it's kind of, you know, downtown Mesa's kind of on the upswing I feel like, a little bit, so there's a little more energy, a little more people.
The restaurant itself is kind of cool.
Neon sign in the back for, for tacos and the menus all kind of hand painted on the wall, around the side and cool little patio.
- So what do you like to eat?
What do you recommend there?
- I probably get every taco when I go there and I have a few favorites, but I'll usually always get a Barbacoa taco.
That's my favorite.
I mean, - Oh my gosh, yes.
Sylvia's like, oh yes.
I mean, it's just melt in your mouth.
That's just my favorite.
- I've heard they use beef cheek, super tender.
Is that right?
- Yeah, I was about to say I have never had beef cheeks before.
And you're right, it just melts in your mouth.
And when you bite into it, it's like a, a flavor explosion.
And it was good, I love the barbacoa.
- Beef cheeks are a delicacy, at least to me.
So you had barbacoa?
- Barbacoa and then I'll usually get a, like a carnitas and a pastor.
And their pastor's little different.
I think it's more of like a Chihuahuan type, but it's really good.
Has that nice kind of, that red color, and the little acidity from the pineapple.
And it's really delicious.
- So Sylvia, you're nodding, what?
Tell me about your experience there.
Let me tell you about that elote corn.
- Isn't that good?
- Oh, I had to, I went home and tried to make it and it just didn't come out.
But it was fantastic with the, you could taste the little hint of lime and then you've got the, the mayonnaise and then they charred the corn.
So you, little pieces, you get a little chard-ness and yeah.
So, that caramelizes the sugars in the corn a little bit, so it makes it more complex.
And texture wise it's better.
And it wasn't chewy.
It was still like popping in your mouth, I thought.
And it was good.
And I had the barbacoa.
And I had the pastor quesadilla.
- That was all right.
Look, when I go out, I'm going out to eat.
- I know they're, they're a little, they're a little small, but it makes it so you can try a lot more flavors.
- Now Sylvia is an Olympic diner.
I'm, I'm loving this, I'm loving this.
Mark, what'd you have?
- I had the lingua.
Usually if you do it wrong, tongue, which is what that is, is really chewy.
This stuff was exactly that melt in your mouth.
It's like gone.
Where'd it go?
It's, it's in there.
- It's low and slow.
You gotta cook it for long time.
- Really, yeah, really good.
And I tried their, one of them ones that they put their name on, which is Tacos Chiwas.
It has ham cubes and then the, probably the barbacoa meat is the, the beef that's in there.
That, that was really good.
And then the calabacitas, that's the squash.
- Yeah, squash taco.
- The, oh man, those were really, really good.
Then I had a quesadilla, I thought I would try it, but I again already said, you know, don't like too much salt.
And that was pretty salty.
- Daniel, you have anything else?
Dessert or anything?
- Yeah, I had a really good, it was like a tres leches carrot cake.
And it was a special, I think that day, - [Chef Mark] I missed that one.
- I'm gonna have to grab that one.
And it was, yeah, I mean super like, kind of carrot cake, but then had that nice kind of, I think the condensed, creamy milk - [Chef Mark] Sweetened condensed milk dulce de leche kind of is in, that was just really good.
They have a really great, I think they make like purees for their, their drinks and their margaritas.
They have like a tajin instead of like a salt rim.
Like a tajin Rim.
So it kind of a lime and little spice and salt.
So there's always something.
And with their specials and everything.
I feel like I'm always kind of going back and getting something new each time.
- Mark, you got some drinks too, right?
- I had the, they have a variety of soda pop.
I don't know which way you want to say that, but anyway, soda or pop.
They have the Jarritos, which are the different flavors from Mexico.
And I have usually guava and tamarind, 'cuz they go really well with the tacos.
Especially the, those tortillas, those corn tortillas, man, they are super fresh.
And when you've got 'em with the sweetness of the Jarritos, it's really actually, you could just eat that.
- I had the soda too.
I had pineapple.
It was good soda.
It was really good.
And it really went well.
- Never had that.
- Oh, it was, it was refreshing.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I mean I was really impressed.
I loved the vibe too.
But because it was, the patio was right there with the garage door open.
And I know you, - I have to laugh because they opened it while I was there.
So I'd got in there before and it was really quiet.
And they opened it and the train came by, and the police sirens and helicopters and an airplane went over.
And then a Winnebago pulling a boat.
And I was like, there's nothing left.
- Daniel, your place, any pro tips, takeaways?
- Kinda like the pizzas get, get one of every taco.
Try something you haven't.
- I would say explore the menu and then just the area.
It's such a cute area and it fits in perfectly with that area in Mesa.
It was, I enjoyed it.
- Mark, pro tips?
- Sit deeper into the restaurant, away from the opening garage.
- If you don't like.
If you want to try Tacos Chiwas, they're located off of Country Club and Main Street in Mesa.
An average meal will cost $15 and they do not take reservations.
They have two other locations as well, in Phoenix and in Chandler.
Thank you for joining us for "Check, Please!
And I want to thank Daniel, Sylvia and Mark for joining me at the table.
If you'd like to share your favorite restaurant, head to our website, azpbs.org/checkplease and nominate your must eat out spot.
You could be joining me at this table.
Be a part of the foodie conversation in Arizona on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #checkpleaseaz.
Join us next time when three new guests make their recommendations right here on "Check, Please!
I'm Chef Mark Tarbell.
Have a delicious life.
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