The last time we caught up with celebrity chef/restaurateur Scott Conant, he had just purchased a home in Scottsdale and was busy preparing for the grand opening of Mora Italian, his first Arizona eatery. As anyone would have predicted, the result was a smash hit. So much so, as a matter of fact, that Mora has recently introduced weekday happy hours with small bites and big sips from 4 to 6pm, extended its dinner service hours and began offering an incredible Saturday and Sunday brunch service. Between the live DJ and cocktails—like The Bee + The Basil ($10), made with cucumber-basil vodka, Dolin Génépy, honey, lemon and soda; and the Café Shakerato ($12), with espresso, Caffè Moka and smoked vanilla vodka—weekend diners enjoy a buzz that lasts throughout the weekend. The brunch menu includes antipasti, such as the refreshing heirloom tomato and avocado panzanella ($11), and a daily pizzette ($12). Also offered are a savory foie gras and chicken liver pate ($13) with cippolini agrodolce (sweet and sour onions), along with twisted classics, like French toast topped with Mora’s namesake blackberry and topped with goat milk crema and almonds ($14). Conant promises more options will be added soon: “We’re already looking to tweak the menu. Who doesn’t love a pizza with an egg on it? Or a burger with an egg on it, as well? Brunch is always a great hangover remedy.” One might think so much change is unusual for a new restaurant, but Conant says he is just making an effort to return the love. “The biggest surprise was how many people have embraced us. It’s touching and humbling how many people thank us for coming to Phoenix,” he says. “It’s not just customers, but also chefs and restaurateurs.” Now that his two newest restaurants in L.A. and New York are open, Conant says he is eager to invest more time settling into desert life: “I so love it here. Every time I come home, I feel like I’m on vacation.” 5651 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602.795.9943
Photo details: Clockwise from top: Grilled pork chop Milanese ($26); peas and guanciale with poached egg ($7); strozzapreti with duck ragout, truffles and arugula ($21); spaghetti squash with smoked mascarpone, pumpkin seeds and basil salsa verde ($9); fettuccine with mushrooms and roasted garlic ($17); little gem lettuces salad ($11); the Amalfi Sour cocktail ($11); and grilled octopus Cece ($15).
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