Coming from New York, being treated rudely is part of the New York deli experience but I moved out here to escape some of that. I have become a kindler and gentler diner. After 5 years of being barked at, stickered as to my table assignment, having friends charged for an extra few shreds of cheese, told they can’t get a certain sandwich, with a scene that seems straight out of “Five Easy Pieces,” or being berated in front of clients for not properly conveying my order at a popular North Scottsdale deli an average of four times a week, I decided to change horses in mid stream. I always thought the customer was right but evidently at my once favorite eatery, I realize it’s not always the case. To that, I say, it’s not only about the cash, man!
I have put my loyalty with one place 20 minutes south of me that we have patronized in frequently; and rediscovered another, a place where old pizza pals, with a hip and homey Italian restaurant honors my weight watchers regimen.
North Scottsdale needs a good bagel joint but for my money, the quintessential deli for a good lox on a bialy lays South of Shea, where Hayden Road and McCormick Parkway meet. Lox, Stock and Bagel, owned by Michelle and Michael Rosenbaum is one of those rare neighborhood bagel places, which has become a town hall of sorts. Where else could I have a Beggeleo, which is a bagel with lox, eggs and onions (LEO) and listen to the regulars’ talk of “home,” whether it’s Chicago, New York or even the “old timers” of Scottsdale and Phoenix? Usually, “trendy” bagels like Jalapeno and 4 cheeses are a mistake at most places but not here. And they even have a great bialy selection, not to mention a phenomenal sandwich menu that will not only not break your wallet, but have you begging for a “to go” box. Patrick, of Lox, Stock(as we hyphenators choose to call it) is one of the few who remembers and appreciates good rock and roll and going in there is like seeing an old friend, albeit the kind of old friend you hitched a ride with to see the Rolling Stones back in 1982! It is the closest I have come in six years to having a New York experience (the culinary kind, not the attitude one) and at the current $3.09 a gallon; it’s still the best investment I have made to have a truly great Jewish deli experience. Add to that, a catering business that my wife has fallen in love with for her law firm and I’m like a whitefish in the cross hairs of a trawling net. I don’t stand a chance of getting out of there alive, without wanting for more.
Rediscovering a favorite restaurant and old friends is a double treat but that’s the case in North Scottsdale’s Three Tomatoes and a Mozzarella on Miller and Pinnacle Peak Road, Owners Jeff and Nancy Roskin have hit upon a formula for success, whether it’s an extensive wine list, Margarita or Neapolitan Pizza or the many fresh pasta of the day with sauce “as you like it.” My wife and I are the fussy (and weird) kind who orders pizzas with all the toppings but no cheese (that diet thing again) until Nancy said “bring your own favorite fat free cheese—we’ll put in on!” I thought customer service was dying but at 3T’s and an M, it’s their top priority, along side quality food. They know loyalty is not often something you command or demand, but rather something you earn. We returned after a hiatus because we thought we couldn’t always be good with our discipline but with a customer comes first attitude, they reminded us that they are in business for us, not the other way around. Lest I harp on the healthy stuff we eat, the offerings are endless for those who want to eat like normal people! A walnut, orange prosciutto salad is big enough for two, but order your own because you won’t want to share!
Life is too short as we all know. Family, Fun and Food are the watchwords of our lives and both Lox Stock and Bagel; and Three Tomatoes and a Mozzarella are like visiting family. And I mean real family, not the like Mansons we often see around the Valley.