Rancho Pinot

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6208 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

Chrysa Robertson has long been one of my favorite chefs. Beneath the classical technique and urban sophistication of her Italian-influenced, Contemporary American dishes lies a homey quality I can never resist. She makes comfort food, plain and simple, using organic, local produce while staying in tune with the seasons. Obviously, her menu changes constantly, but there are repeating themes. Muscovy duck breast, brined and mesquite-grilled, is a menu favorite, served (in the winter months) with roasted butternut squash, crispy onions, sauteed Asian greens and pomegranate-fig sauce. You might also look for mesquite-grilled quail, served with polenta, Swiss chard, and bacon-poblano sauce. Sometimes, she offers rabbit (don't miss it) with oranges, Nicoise olives and fresh fennel. And of course, saving room for one of Chrysa's sublimely old-fashioned desserts is a must: maybe a rustic seasonal fruit tart with cinnamon-caramel ice cream or a lemon zest cake (made with local lemons, natch), black currant sauce and lemon curd. Partner Tom Kaufman oversees the terrific wine list, while the warm, western decor -- built around AZ and cowboy collectibles -- is vastly appealing. If you have sophisticated out-of-town guests, RP is a must-do. And don't forget to check out Mozzarella Mondays, when Chrysa hand-pulls fresh mozzarella on the spot for three of the four dishes on her yummy mozz-menu. Dinner Mon-Sat. $$-$$$