After several weeks of delays, San Tan Brewing Co. microbrewery and restaurant has finally opened its doors in downtown Chandler.
“I’m terrified and excited,” says owner Anthony Canecchia. “I’m terrifyingly excited, I suppose.”
Canecchia spent seven years at Tempe’s Four Peaks Brewing Co., where he was head brewer. When he saw a vacant 1954 bank building at San Marcos Place and Commonwealth Avenue, he fell in love.
“I’m a total history geek,” he says.
After 21 months of renovations, the 5,100-square-foot space retains much of its historic charm, with exposed brick walls, wood-plank ceilings, open ductwork and stained concrete floors.
A 38-foot rusted steel bar runs along the north wall, which has large openings that will also allow bartenders to serve customers on a sidewalk patio that will open in October.
A glass-encased room holds five large brewing vats — two 30-gallon and three 15-gallon — that Canecchia hopes will produce 600 to 800 barrels of beer a year.
Right now, San Tan is featuring four microbrews: a light ale called Sunspot Gold, a dry Irish stout called Gordo, a hop shock IPA and a Berliner-style Oscuro Brown flavored with raspberry or hazelnut.
Pints, which cost $3.50 to $4.50, are served in glasses designed by Canecchia. A flared lip enhances flavor, a bowled midsection helps capture aroma and a thin leg aids in retaining carbonation.
Brant Gasparek, who worked in the kitchens at Rainforest Café and Elephant Grill, oversees an upscale menu.
Appetizers I tried: a trio of delicious sliders with grilled onions and granular spicy mustard ($8), lip-smackin’ honey hot barbecue wings ($7.50 per dozen), raspberry stuffed mushrooms ($8) and crispy, beer-battered fries ($4.50). All nicely complemented the house beers.
Burgers and sandwiches are in the $8 to $10 range. Several “stuffed” burgers are featured, such as the Kasbar Burger, a ground lamb burger stuffed with chopped dates, smoked Gouda and pistachios.
Other entrees include pizzas, rib-eye steak, pistachio-encrusted tilapia and crab cakes, although San Tan is doing a limited menu for its first week.
San Tan Brewing Co., 8 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler, is open 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Tuesday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
Information: (480) 917-8700 or santanbrewing.com.
TASTE AMERICA FEST
The James Beard Foundation, whose annual awards are the culinary equivalent of the Oscars, brings its first national food festival, Taste America, to the East Valley this weekend.
At 7 p.m. Friday, Best Chef: Southwest winner Robert Mc-Grath will host a fundraising dinner at his soon-to-open Paradise Valley restaurant, REM, 7101 E. Lincoln Drive.
The dinner, which costs $250 per person, also features seven other Southwest winners: Chris Bianco (Pizzeria Bianco), Nobuo Fukuda (See Saw), Christopher Gross (Christopher’s Fermier Brasserie), RoxSand Scocos Mc-Creary (formerly of RoxSand Restaurant), Bradford Thompson (formerly of Mary Elaine’s), Vincent Guerithault (Vincent on Camelback) and Janos Wilder (Tucson’s Janos).
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Williams-Sonoma at Scottsdale Fashion Square will host free cooking demonstrations, cookbook signings, food samplings and children’s activities.
MESA CHEESECAKE FACTORY
Cheesecake Factory, the Calabasas, Calif., chain that boasts one of the industry’s most extensive menus, opens its third East Valley location at 5 p.m. Thursday near Superstition Springs Center in Mesa.
The restaurant serves more than 200 dishes, including appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, seafood, pizza and pasta. Desserts include 50 varieties of cheesecake.
Other Arizona locations are in Chandler, Scottsdale, Phoenix and Peoria.
Cheesecake Factory, 6613 E. Southern Ave., Mesa, will be open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday.
Information: (480) 641-7300 or www.cheesecakefactory.com.