I’m glad to report I’ve found another solid non-chain option out in the west Valley, moderately convenient to Glendale and not far off the route to Goodyear – Ground Control, a coffee roaster that has a strong menu of salads and sandwiches, located on the border of Avondale and Goodyear. I’ve only visited once so far, but the chipotle turkey sandwich, with freshly sliced roasted turkey, havarti, tomatoes, and a thin spread of chipotle mayo, came on an incredible rosemary flatbread along with a side salad for just under $10. The flatbread meant that most of what I got was filling, not bread, and when the filling is good (as mine was) this is a favorable ratio. Ground Control also offers cheese boards and gelato made in-house, if you’re not racing off to a game as I was.
Back in Phoenix, after years of hearing recommendations from locals (including some of you), I finally made it to Beckett’s Table, which is next door to the strip mall that houses crudo. Beckett’s Table’s general vibe is upscale comfort food, with a menu full of hearty dishes that often center on a rich ingredient (short ribs, dumplings, pork shanks), never deviate too far from the spirit of the dish, but use top-quality ingredients to elevate it. I had that pork shank, called a “pork osso buco confit,” and couldn’t get over how rich and yet clean-tasting it was, not heavy or fatty like I feared it might be if it wasn’t cooked long or slowly enough. I was there with my daughter, whose mac and cheese was actually made fresh (not from a box), after which she ate a sizable chunk of Joe Posnanski’s chocolate cheesecake. (I knew once he offered to share, he was in trouble.) I was impressed by the real food on the kids’ menu; it’s not smaller portions of adult entrees, but at least it’s food cooked to order that treats kids like actual people, not like pets. We started with a cheese board while we waited for Joe, which came with three small slices of a 60-day aged goat cheese, grilled pieces of sliced sourdough from a local baker, house-made cranberry chutney, and spiced nuts, all outstanding but not a great value at $15. Those of you who follow me on Twitter saw the chocolate-covered bacon s’mores, but I have to tell you it looked better than it tasted; the best part was actually the homemade marshmallows. Everything was good, but I’d order differently on my next visit.
Tuesday night, I was solo for dinner and tried Franco’s Italian Caffe on Scottsdale Road, which has found a devoted following after just a few months, partly because Franco had previously run restaurants here before moving to New York while his daughter was in school there. Franco himself is Italian-born, but the menu is more Italian by way of New York City, with fare that is heavier than the bright, clean flavors of true Italian food. The pasta erbe aromatiche, apparently a signature dish (according to my server, who was very friendly but butchered every Italian word he said), comprises strozzapretti in a sauce of prosciutto cotto fresh herbs, and white wine reduced and then finished with a thick coating of cream. My pasta was slightly overcooked, not Olive Garden level but still further than I would call “al dente,” and the sauce, while full of the flavors of the herbs and pleasantly salty, was just way too heavy. The burrata starter special was also quite ordinary, with the cheese lacking salt and the prosciutto crudo not enough to make up for it. This is good Italian-American food, but based on one dinner at each place, I think Davanti Enoteca just up the road is a better option. EDIT: Davanti closed in May of 2013.
For more eats around here, sorted by stadium, check out my Arizona spring training dining guide.