A restaurant that has been generating a lot of buzz in Scottsdale is Fat Ox, a mega restaurant that opened in November 2016 at 6316 North Scottsdale Road under the leadership of Chef Matt Carter, previously of Zinc Bistro and The Mission, and overseen by Executive Chef Rochelle Daniel. It is a stylish Scottsdale hotspot packed with scantily dressed 30 -40-year-olds, in a trendy, pricey and jumping bar scene. It looked like a real meat market.
The 7,000 square foot dimly lit restaurant had a complete makeover from its predecessor and seats 350 inside and outside. That should send up a red flag right there. How many large format restaurants that you know that serve stellar food? They are usually sports bars, or corporate institutions, or restaurants found in a mall. The design is attractive, with sanded woods, leather banquets, and high tops. It was daytime when I visited and the floor to ceiling windows gave the space an airy feel. There is a long bar that was jammed packed. In the back is another dining room, done in red, and called the Ferrari room, that can be closed off for private parties, as well as a side patio that can be used for this function as well.
The food bills itself as modern Italian, featuring ingredient-driven Italian fare with a twist. Okay, for me the menu read like every other commercial Italian restaurant. Antipasti, formaggio and salumi, pasta, meat and seafood, contorni and desserts. There were no big surprises or radical flavours.
I always feel the bread that is served is an indication of how the rest of the meal will taste. It is a first impression if you will. Well the little cubes of salty foccacia were stale, so, not a good start. The burrata was the tiniest piece I have ever been served, and the accompaniments were not good either. A better choice is the veal meatballs, in a tasty San Maranzo tomato sauce with basil and Parmesan. I would leave out the lumpy polenta that it is served with. My pasta was also a tiny portion and a flawed dish. I ordered the casoncelli, which in theory sounded wonderful. It was a pasta stuffed with butternut squash, sage, ameretti crumbs, with Parmesan and a few sprinkles of pomegranate. The pasta was dry, undercooked, and, overly sweet. The short rib alla vaccinara in a Barolo sauce, with celery, charred broccolini and raisins was mediocre. Our side of Calabrian roasted cauliflower in a hazelnut, caper and parsley sauce tasted of salt. Our server was gracious and friendly and the best part of our meal was our wine. There is a huge global wine list which is Italian leaning, and there are some great choices by the glass. We opted for a Russian River Valley Pinot. They are also generous with their pour.
Oh, and did I mention the place has terrible acoustics and it is NOISY!!! We decided not to chance it and stay for dessert. For me, the Fat Ox is not the restaurant I had hoped for, the food was very uneven. A better place to sip a pricey cocktail or a good bottle of wine, than a place to dine.