Cooks Out of the Kitchen—Local Restaurant Reviews

Judi Friedman and Jerry Lankin

Judi Friedman and Jerry Lankin

We’re two SaddleBrooke foodies forever seeking great places to eat!

We’ll review two restaurants each month for taste and presentation, service, price, value, and ambiance. If you have a favorite eatery and would like to spread the word, please send us an email at [email protected].

Claire’s Café and Art Gallery

15800 N. Oracle Road, 520-825-2525

While running errands one Saturday morning, your Cooks stopped at Claire’s Café and Art Gallery. This was Judi’s first time at Claire’s, and having heard so many wonderful things about this café, she was looking forward to enjoying a meal there. What a charming restaurant and gallery located near SaddleBrooke on Oracle. There is a delightful variety of art, sculpture, and jewelry on the walls and in cases around the restaurant that brings color and interest to diners. After being greeted immediately by staff, seated in a cozy alcove, and drinks ordered, your Cooks perused the menu. What a joy! There were many surprise items on the menu that warmed their hearts. Some of these were potato pancakes, cheese blintzes, and matzo brei! The latter was a made-to-order dish featuring matzo crackers softened in scrambled eggs and cooked up and served with a choice of potatoes or sliced tomatoes. Jerry was in the mood for an old favorite of his—pastrami on grilled rye with Swiss and mustard served with excellent French fries. It was delicious! The staff were friendly and attentive. The Cooks will definitely be back to explore more items on the menu.

Taste & Presentation ****

Service *****

Price Range $$

Value *****

Ambiance ****

Claire’s Café and Art Gallery is highly recommended.


6440 N. Campbell Avenue, 520-795-7221

For special occasions or just one of the best meals you can get in Tucson, Vivace has been Jerry’s pick for more years than it has been at its current location, 6440 N. Campbell at Sunrise. If you can, ask for a window seat when you make your reservation to be able to overlook the entire city. We were treated to a light show during a monsoon storm to help celebrate Jerry’s 80th birthday.

Our aperitifs began with a dry martini for Judi and Jerry’s usual Southern Comfort and lime served just as we like, quickly. Warm bread with pesto came promptly also. For the appetizers, we shared an escargot and artichokes dish, perfectly prepared, tender, and served with plenty of bread to soak up the bountiful garlic butter. A generous and well-chilled Caesar salad, superb dressing, and a considerable heaping of parmigiana cheese were paired with many anchovies to complete the course.

Judi ordered the five large roasted Guaymas shrimp with seafood stuffing, served in a very light lemon sauce and accompanied by a vegetable rice that was incomparable. Jerry had the osso bucco, a perfectly prepared veal shank braised in a marvelous vegetable tomato sauce served over polenta—as good as it gets. A small fork stood atop the shank to make sure that the gem of the meal, the marrow, de rigueur to accompany a properly prepared Italian osso bucco.

A complimentary crème brûlée to celebrate his special decade was served, and the best part—there was enough remaining to continue the celebration the next evening. Alas, neither the marrow nor the Crème made it home.

Taste & Presentation *****

Service *****

Price Range $$$$$

Value *****

Ambiance *****

Vivace is very highly recommended.