10/27: The House at Secret Garden to open in Phoenix
by Howard Seftel – Oct. 8, 2010 09:38 AM
Republic restaurant critic
South Phoenix isn’t exactly a destination-restaurant neighborhood. But a new restaurant, the House at Secret Garden, sounds intriguing enough to draw in even the type of clientele who might never otherwise set foot south of Van Buren or west of 32nd Street.
It’s set in the historic South Mountain mansion, built in 1929. The mansion has a rich history: back in the ’60s, it housed a hippie commune. Recently, it has operated as an event venue (and will continue to do so).
Chef/owner Dustin Cristofolo, 29, sports a promising pedigree: his mother, Pat, operates the Farm at South Mountain and a catering company. He has experience, too, including culinary training and a stint working the front of the house at Quiessence, one of this town’s premier restaurants. The House at Secret Garden is his first venture – “my baby,” he says.
He calls his fare “American eclectic,” which means there are many regional and global touches. He’s also emphasizing the “local, organic” angle. So the pork will come from the Meat Shop in downtown Phoenix; goat cheese will come from Black Mountain Ranch in Snowflake; and produce will come from Maya’s Garden and McClendon Farms. He’s also making his own fresh pasta.