Nook Kitchen Reopens
Nook Kitchen in Arcadia celebrates the reopening of its doors Wednesday with a new menu that doubles down on its renowned Italian favorites with a modern twist, created by the inventive 2017 ‘Chopped’ Champion and restaurateur, Chef Nick LaRosa, whose beloved culinary specialties include house-made pastas, authentic Napolitano-style pizzas, double bone-in pork chops, vegetarian dishes and even a Nook Burger.
Nook Kitchen in Arcadia, 4231 Indian School, Phoenix, was open for only about four months after it relocated to a larger space in December last year. Then COVID-19 hit and despite early attempts at takeout-only service, the Arcadia outbreak soon followed, and the Nook team decided to close through the summer.
Now, Nook Kitchen reopens at limited capacity and reservations are recommended. The refreshed menu has something for everyone in an Italian style using fresh ingredients at the talented hand of LaRosa.
“We’re excited and want to shout from the rooftops that ‘we’re back!’ ” LaRosa said. “And we’re really happy to be back, too. The time off has given us the opportunity to add new menu items, plus fantastic desserts and still focus on the dishes we know our patrons love.
“The specialness of our food is Italian with a twist. If you want to eat hearty, we’ve got it. If you’d rather eat light, we’ve got that too in spades.”
House-made pastas offer something for everyone. For the meat lover, the Casarecce Bolognese combines a hearty serving of beef, soppressata, tomato, herbs and parmesan. For vegetarians, the Veggie Campanelle features a symphony of roasted peppers, brussels, Calabrian chili, garlic, Chablis, shallot, braised leek with a touch of grape tomatoes. Other entrees include a pan-seared salmon, an arugula pesto grilled chicken, a double bone-in pork chop, and yes, even a burger ground from quality cuts of beef. Appetizers feature the popular Brussels Chips, Fire Roasted Olives and Arancini, to name a few.
Perhaps especially exciting, and new to the menu, are gelato flights in flavors Stracciatella (an Italian chocolate chip or “shreds” of chocolate) and pistachio by Cool Gelato Italiano, known for fresh ingredients with no preservatives. Another sweet highlight is Nook’s version of the dramatic “Affogato,” an elegant finish to dinner with a house-made chocolate budino (Italian custard), Stracciatella gelato topped with espresso. Buonissimo!
Eclectic interiors are fashionably contemporary yet comfortable, including the distinctive Instagram art mural guests see at the exterior entry. Nook’s decor retains lively indicators of its Italian roots with the Acunto M. Napoli pizza oven imported from Naples that rests as a shiny golden beacon with a pizza counter to watch the making of those authentic Napolitano-style pizzas. LaRosa’s pizza-making skill is enhanced by the hand-built oven created by the Acunto family active over four generations for 125 years, credited with being “foundational” to the development of pizza itself.
Frank Vairo, owner of Nook Kitchen with LaRosa, managing partner Nicholas Winger and S. Barrett Rinzler, founder & CEO, Square One Concepts, shared: “We are so proud of this spot and the great food. There is never an evening we don’t pour our heart and soul into what we’re doing here. Our customers recognize that. The food is first rate, and our beverage program rivals any in the West. Our sommelier Matthew Wohleb leads guests to experience little known old world and new world varietals, and our tenured mixologist Gabe Chavez delivers a cocktail program that rivals anyone. As Nick said, we’re excited to be back.”
Nicholas Winger, managing partner, said: “We can’t wait to welcome back our guests. We are operating with limited-seating and dining socially distanced due to pandemic regulations, so we encourage reservations, especially with our small dining room. It fills up quickly.”
Rinzler added: “I’ll echo Nick and Frank. We’re excited to have the doors open again, and for guests to enjoy this very special menu.”
Nook originally won over its patrons in Arcadia when it opened in December 2013 on the southeast corner of 36th Street and Indian School. The restaurant was a cozy 2,000 square feet. December 2019, Nook moved to its current home at 3,400 square feet.
Nook Kitchen, with a culinary program created by Food Network TV Chopped Champion (2017) Chef Nick LaRosa, earned a 2016 Foodist Award by AZ BIG Media, and has been critically mentioned by Phoenix New Times to be among best new restaurants, Top 5 Places to Eat, and other honors. The Frank Vairo-Nick LaRosa duo, joined by general manager Nicholas Winger, with support from S. Barrett Rinzler of Square One Concepts, continues the quality flavors that have earned them critical acclaim.