By Kristine Cannon
After a four-month delay, James Beard Award-winning chef Alex Stratta’s new Mediterranean restaurant finally opened its doors in August.
Located in McCormick Ranch and originally slated to open mid-April, Stratta Kitchen serves the Michelin-starred chef’s approachable twist on flavorful Mediterranean fare.
In addition to having a renowned chef at the helm, what sets Stratta Kitchen apart from other Mediterranean restaurants are three things:
“We’re accessible, we’re healthy and we’re fast,” Stratta says.
Stratta Lifestyle Kitchen is described as a “fast-casual healthy whole food dining” spot with a vibrant menu boasting natural and fresh ingredients.
Stratta Kitchen’s menu boasts dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Broken down into four sections—To Share or Not to Share, Greens, Grains and the Goods—the customizable menu allows guests to mix and match the proteins and sauces in their grain- or greens-based dishes to best fit their diet and preferred tastes.
“The Mediterranean approach to cooking is sunny, inherently healthy, light and full of flavor focusing on fresh, seasonal and optimum-quality ingredients,” Stratta explains.
For example, starters include vegetable and potato fritatta; whipped ricotta cheese and walnut romesco; and baked artichoke, spinach and goat cheese dip.
Other signature dishes include mistral with Moroccan-spiced eggplant, Tuscan kale, Turkish apricots, Marcona almonds, spicy chickpeas and pickled red onion; and the Cali Coast featuring toasted quinoa, rainbow cauliflower, avocado, and medjool dates; among others.
The menu very much so reflects the very diet Stratta follows—one that helped him not only lose more than 100 pounds but also overcome colon cancer.
“I feel better than I ever have at 55 years old. I feel healthier than when I was 35,” Stratta says. “I take care of myself, and I think a lot of people my generation are looking for that.”
Considered his most personal feat to date, Stratta isn’t nervous one bit to open Stratta Kitchen amid a pandemic.
“Maybe I’m delusional,” he says with a laugh, “but I’m super excited. I’m hopeful.”
Since conception, Stratta Kitchen has embraced a concept that’s thriving amid the COVID-19 crisis: to-go meals.
“I wouldn’t say I had a crystal ball or anything,” Stratta says, “but I was planning on this being substantially to go—this new normal where you see a lot of people doing Uber Eats and Grubhub. So, I said, ‘Let’s design a restaurant that caters to that.’”
The restaurant—which is two-thirds kitchen and one-third dining room—boasts a counter-service atmosphere within a vibrant, art-filled space.
Most dishes are priced at less than $12.
While Stratta didn’t have to make any major adjustments to the restaurant in response to the pandemic—though, he wishes he had the forethought of adding a drive-up window—he is faced with one major challenge: marketing.
“That’s been a big question: How are you going to get exposure? Our business is going to be determined on how we get in front of people,” Stratta explained.
Third-party delivery apps, like Postmates and the aforementioned Uber Eats and Grubhub, are effective ways for restaurants to gain exposure—but at a cost.
As the middleman, the apps “usually take about 27%,” Stratta says. “You’re lucky to make a little bit of money.”
“It looks good and it keeps people employed, but the business itself is just dishing out the money to these third parties,” he continues.
In the end, though, Stratta is happy to introduce his healthy, fast, well-priced Mediterranean concept to the Scottsdale area.
So is Stratta’s partner Genuine Concepts, the neighborhood-focused restaurant group behind The Vig, The Little Woody, The Womack, Ladera Taverna y Cocina and The McMillan.
“We’re beyond excited and proud to work with a world-class chef like Alex Stratta, and Stratta Kitchen is the perfect fit for our family of hyper-local, community-driven restaurants and bars,” Genuine Concepts co-founder Tucker Woodbury says.
“We’re getting great feedback from the people that are either peering in the window or calling me or texting me or (messaging me) on Instagram,” Stratta adds, saying his new restaurant “couldn’t be more relevant.”
Located near Hayden Road and Via de Ventura, Stratta Kitchen replaces the Melting Pot’s Scottsdale location, which closed after 22 years last September.
8260 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, 480.597.9195, strattakitchen.com