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].

Bottega Michaelangelo

420 W. Magee (at Oracle), 520-297-5775, reservations suggested

This upscale Italian restaurant has been a favorite for many years and has never disappointed. That’s why we chose it for our first offering to you. Our party of four (we were joined by our friends Dan and Jack) were seated promptly on the patio as requested. Our server Juan was attentive and informative.

Judi started with a perfect martini, and Jerry had a Limoncello Mule that was superbly concocted. Dan had the sangria, which he said was excellent, and Jack had a refreshing iced tea. Judi and Jerry shared an appetizer of mussels in marinara sauce with spicy nduja sausage, white wine, accompanied by gorgonzola crostini for dipping. Well-cleaned and fresh mussels made this a perfect starter for the meal to come. Dan had the Caprice Salad with tomato, basil, and a balsamic dressing, while Jack had the Burrata Bruschetta with avocado, tomato, and balsamic. The first course was enjoyed by all as we kept picking at everyone else’s plates. Jerry’s main was a perfect piece of Branzino served on a bed of cannellini beans, tomatoes, and potatoes, while Judi had the Linguini Marinara with shrimp, clams, mussels, and calamari served over a bed of linguini—excellent fresh and tasty seafood with a delightful red sauce. Dan had the Rigatoni with chicken, pancetta, red pepper flakes in a gorgonzola cream sauce, while Jack had the Bucatini Carbonara featuring bacon, black pepper, pecorino cream sauce, and a breaded fried egg—so interesting and delicious! Four very happy diners enjoyed these main courses.

Desert plus four forks was a mile-high slice of six-layer chocolate cake with chocolate icing that rounded out the meal. Really good!

The patio was a bit noisy. Hidden gem is their Happy Hour menu at the bar beginning at 4 p.m. Be early, and don’t miss the lamb chop appetizer. It’s a steal.

Taste & Presentation *****

Service *****

Price Range $$$$

Value *****

Ambiance ****

Bottega Michaelangelo—Highly Recommended

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery

7315 N. Oracle Road, Suite 161, Tucson, AZ 85705, 520-605-2350

After a morning exploring the Desert Museum with our friends Yvette and Bruce, we went to Snooze, an A.M. Eatery for a delightful brunch. This was our first visit to Snooze, and Yvette and Bruce recommended it highly. Snooze is on Oracle just north of Ina on the west side of the road. This clean, refreshing restaurant offers both indoor and patio dining. We chose the patio and were delighted by the cooling misters.

Our server was enthusiastic and efficient. She explained that all the food is prepared after the order is placed, which might cause a slight delay in receiving our food. She took our drink orders, and they were delivered promptly. Bruce ordered a Bloody Mary, which he enjoyed, with a creative garnish of vegetables, while the others ordered tea and water. We looked over the extensive menu, which has omelets, waffles, pancakes, eggs benedict (called Bennys), along with several other options, including gluten-free and vegan.

Jerry and Judi shared the Crab and Asparagus Omelet, which came with a patty of hash browns, Yvette ordered the same, and Bruce had the Belle Bella Benny—eggs benedict Italian style! We didn’t notice any delay in the food service. Yvette, Jerry, and Judi totally enjoyed the omelet—the crab and wonderful asparagus were perfectly incorporated into the egg mix, and the cream cheese hollandaise sauce was the perfect topping. The Bella Bella Benedict had thin slices of prosciutto, Italian cheese on a toasted ciabatta, topped with a cream cheese hollandaise balsamic glaze, Dijon citronette, and Parmesan-dressed arugula. Bruce’s Benny was excellent. Four happy diners each enjoyed the brunch.

The server split the checks appropriately, and she was able to accommodate the coupons we each had. As a side note, the inside dining area we each found very noisy and would suggest eating on the patio. If you plan on trying out this new eatery, download their app so that you can receive their current discounts.

Taste & Presentation *****

Service *****

Price Range $$+ (depending on discount offers)

Value ****

Ambiance ****

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery—Strongly Recommended

Jerry Lankin: Jerry grew up in a food-oriented family, his father being a cook, and spent most of his life as a professional cake baker, decorator, and bakery owner. As a young adult, Jerry apprenticed with his father for five years. Jerry has traveled throughout most of the U.S., much of Europe, the Middle East, and the Orient, focusing on food and fine restaurants. Jerry has taken cooking classes all over the world and has an extensive personal library of cook books and recipes. For many years, he and his wife owned a wholesale baking business in Scottsdale, and they owned and operated a restaurant for five years while living in Mexico. Jerry moved to SaddleBrooke in August from Oro Valley where he lived for 15 years.

Judi Friedman: Judi grew up in a food-oriented family, as her father was a meat provisioner in New York. When her dad developed new recipes, she was part of the taste panel to help create the new product and bring it to market. Being an at-home taste panel continued in her adult life as she became one of the taste panelists while working for an internationally known major food company. As an adult, she took many cooking classes and created menus and cooked for dinner groups in California. Judi moved to SaddleBrooke a year ago from Sonoma, Calif.