Category: Story 3

Eyes on the Pies

Each of these distinctive local restaurants could win awards for their mouth-watering pizza

by: Betsy Bruce

Scordato’s Pizzeria

It’s 10:50 on a Monday morning and cars are already pulling into the parking lot at Scordato’s Pizzeria, waiting for the 11 a.m. opening. It’s no surprise that an establishment bearing the name of legendary Tucson restaurateurs is so popular. The eatery, made of brick and beams, sits where Stone Avenue meets River Road on the near northwest side. Seating 130 guests, dining areas encircle the central bar, which features high-tops and cherry-wood stools to pull up to a granite slab bar. The dining areas are made intimate under corrugated low angled ceilings, dark wood tables and hardwood floors. Framed posters — Cinzano, Barrilla — adorn brick walls. Sporting events air on a pair of big screen TVs; cold drafts are pulled from a 12 spout tap.

Scordato’s Manager Jeff Happoldt says, “The key is using high-end ingredients and making everything from scratch.” Dough is made daily using imported Caputo flour and crafted with the same level of skill as the finest bread. Favorite pies include the house made sausage and roasted cippolini onion with mozzarella and fresh sage leaves; and the Japanese eggplant, zucchini and roasted red pepper with aromatic trugole cheese drizzled with pesto and finished with Pecorino Romano. Takeout is available, but it’s suggested that customers savor a Scordato masterpiece in house to ensure the perfect crunch of crust, bubbling cheese and piquant pepperoni. Says Happoldt, “Fresh out of our 620-degree oven is the best you can possibly get.”

Be sure to look up as you enter and exit to take in a gasp-inducing silver and crystal chandelier that Liberace himself would have lusted after … as well as the pizza, of course.

4911 N. Stone Ave., 529-2700 Scordatospizzeria.com

Proof

St. Philip is the patron Saint of Joy … so what better place to get a heavenly slice of pizza than “Proof” at St. Philip’s Plaza on Campbell and River. GM/Owner Grant Krueger says he and his partners dug the double meaning. “We not only liked the name due to the rise of bread, we wanted to highlight our bar with the proof in alcohol. We’re very proud of our house-made pizza dough, pasta and bread, amazing craft cocktails and eclectic wine menu.”

Southern Arizonans experience a good part of the year in temperate temps, so half of the tables at Proof are outside. Fourtops sit under a roan-colored planked canopy lit by firefly strings; a fire pit warms when fall arrives. Inside, a “sleek, modern feel with rustic ambience” was the goal, with whitewashed wood floors, and a granite bar surrounded by industrial stools.

Pasta, salads and sandwiches are offered, but artisanal pizza highlights the menu. The oven-charred crispy thin crusts accommodate heirloom tomatoes, housemade mozzarella and other premium toppings. “Our Margherita pizza is our most popular,” say Krueger. “If you are going to measure an Italian restaurant, go authentic.” The mushroom pie is another favorite, combining mushrooms, goat cheese, truffles and scallions. Krueger’s personal favorite? “It’s got to be the potato! It’s so simple, but it takes technique. I like to add some crispy prosciutto if I feel like spicing it up.”

Brunch is offered Sundays at “Proof,” and its St. Philip’s sisters, Union Public House and Reforma. Check for musical performances in the shared courtyard.

4340 N. Campbell Ave., 789-7447 Prooftucson.com

Fiamme Pizza

The aromas of mesquite wood and oregano greet hungry guests ambling toward a sliver of restaurant in the foothills, Fiamme Pizza, tucked into a supermarket strip on the southeast corner of Swan and Sunrise. Once inside, guests glimpse the source of olfactory delight, the brick pizza oven at the front of the house, shooting sparks (fiamme is Italian for “flames”). An open marble-slabbed kitchen is adjacent to the oven, and this is where fresh dough is worked into rounds and embellished with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh Fior de latte mozzarella, full-leaf basil, 24-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a variety of locally sourced ingredients.“The pizza at Fiamme is unique because we use ingredients and cooking methods that create a product that is one of a kind,” says Owner/ Chef Scott Volpe, adding, “The pizza is made with naturally leavened dough and cooked to a light, airy, crispy yet soft finish.”

The wide variety of pies include the Pizza Picante, a white pizza with Calabrese salami, Calabrian chiles, onion and mozzarella; and the “Grandma,” with family recipe sauce, garlic, olive oil, mozzarella, Parmesan, ricotta and basil.

Two-tops progress along the pristine white walls, which are adorned with framed travel shots of both mother Italy and beloved Tucson. Grandmother Volpe is framed, pink-cheeked and 1930s coiffed, next to the myriad medals awarded grandson Scott, the six-time gold medalist at “Campionato Mondiale della Pizza,” in other words, the best pizza dough tossing artist on the planet.

An open ceiling soars above pewter-colored, wood-planked floors. Frank Sinatra segues into “Sh-Boom” and a vintage poster of Sophia Loren gazes at diners from the wall, her elegant fingers holding a margherita pizza, no doubt almost as delicious as can be had at Fiamme.

4704 E. Sunrise Blvd., 529-5777 Fiammepizzatucson.com

Renee’s Organic Oven

What has blonde spikes, a big appetite and drives across the country in a vintage Camaro SS? Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, of course, host of the Food Network’s wildly popular Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. That famous rag-top pulled up to Renee’s Organic Oven right here in Tucson last year, and Renee and husband/chef Steve have been surfing tsunamis of tourists and Tucsonans when it re-airs — a dozen times so far. The obvious query is which Triple D designation does Renee’s fit? “That’s what we said,” responds Renee. Her conclusion simply stated is, “This is a guy, no pun intended, who just wants to highlight what people do really well.” Fieri joined Steve in the kitchen to make The Tailored Tony, “Our kind of foodie version of a Sloppy Joe,” according to Renee, using organic grass-fed beef, marinara, roasted red pepper, fresh basil and mozzarella on house-made organic focaccia. “When the episode airs, we have focaccia stacked from tabletop to ceiling.” Also composed for the affable television personalitywas the signature Spinach Dip Calzone, with creamy spinach, artichokes, organic free-range chicken, roasted green chiles and cream cheese wrapped in a flaky, browned crust. Guy’s first-bite review? “This is dangerous Bro.”

The star of Renee’s is the pizza, despite the worldwide publicity for the sandwich and calzone. “We’ve been perfecting the all-organic pizza crust for as long as we’ve been open,” says Renee. “The key, however, is not being too fussy. We are not jamming to Beethoven in the morning, doing exacting science; it’s about the integrity of the ingredients.” No matter what area of the country a guest is from they find something about the pizza, which has a local flair, to love. “I truly feel we make a Tucson pizza,” remarks Renee. Favorites include the “Old Town,” elegant in its simple composition: fresh basil, Parmesan and Bacio Mozzarella (with a kiss of Buffalo milk). The sausage and roasted red pepper pie is a new addition and an instant favorite. “Jeff’s II” is named after the couple’s 17-year-old son, and it features organic free-range chicken (moist and flavorful), pesto, mozzarella, feta and pine nuts.

The 40-seat establishment, (mostly inside, with outdoor seating for 12), has been celebrating innovative, delicious, healthy food on the southwest corner of Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon for 15 years, earning more than 160 five-star reviews on Yelp. Cement floors and honeycomb light cylinders brighten and warm, while the tangerine walls display art and expressions of encouragement. Renee invites diners to make reservations, and adds, “We are grateful we are loved and filled!” Fingers crossed, Renee’s will double in size next year, as the neighboring business plans to move one door down. 7065 E Tanque Verde Rd., 886-0484 Reneesorganicoven.com

Anello

The incandescent Anello doesn’t take reservations for parties under five, or even have a phone number. Look for the redbrick façade on Sixth Street, illuminated after sundown by an ebony cylinder, just across the alley from Crooked Tooth Brewery. Owner Scott Girod indicates he’s really too busy to answer the phone; too busy keeping his promise to his wife and young sons to make this enterprise soar. Anello means “promise” in Italian, as well as “ring,” the shape of a pizza.

Slight of build and inky maned, the now 33-year-old Girod wanted to “see what Neapolitan pizza was all about.” He spent three months cycling across Italy from Rome to Tuscany, to Sienna to Florence, “eating as much pizza as I could.” Naples found him perfecting his talents at pizzeria La Notizia, “The News.”

The kitchen at Anello occupies a full third of restaurant space and a third of that third is lorded over by the Ferrari of pizza ovens, a Ferrara, introduced to Girod in Italy. At 2 p.m., the beast is already growling, turning pecan wood into glowing coals. Crates of fresh herbs and tomatoes from local purveyors have just arrived, waiting to be composed.

Feasting at Anello, on any given day, is decided by the bounty that arrives through the massive blonde wood front door (there is no backdoor). This evening’s menu includes Asian pears shaved thin, pecorino, pistachios, thyme, pickled jalapeno, drizzled with honey and lemon. “Fresh, bright, not what you’d think of as a salad,” says Girod. “The starter is to kind get your appetite going.”

Headlines on the dynamic menu are more abbreviated than Haiku: “Bite … Pizza … Sweet,” a Trip Advisor review mirrors the poetry — “Small place, incredible pizza, delicious deserts.” House favorites include: Bianca, with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, garlic, olive, basil and chiltepin; and Margherita, featuring tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and basil. Guests may add a curated protein to any pizza. Among the sweet finishes is a olive oil cake.

It takes just 30 humans to fill Anello’s blonde wood communal table and twotops. Polished cement floors reflect the warmth cast by spiraling gold lights, a pink accent wall peeks out from behind the Ferrara. A Chandler native, Girod offers words as delicious as his food when asked why he chose the Old Pueblo to open his business. “I was over Phoenix. Tucson offers so much more. For me it’s all about food and pizza and bringing people together. I hope people see something familiar, but taste it in a new way, and how flavorful a few things can be when done well.” Reservations for parties of five or more can indeed be made on line.

222 E. 6th St. HELLO@ANELLO.SPACE

Tucson Lifestyle Magazine Burger Masters

Burger Masters

There are lots of places to go for a good burger in this town, but these six spots are a cut above.

KIMBERLY SCHMITZ
PHOTOGRAPHY BY THOMAS VENEKLASEN PHOTO ASSISTANTS JACKSON AND NOLAN VENEKLASEN

Divine Bovine

Super new on Tucson’s burger scene, Divine Bovine bursts out of the gate like a bucking bull with a mission. Though it’s only eight months into the game, don’t dare discount this hot new spot owned and operated by Ben Rine, former owner of BrushFire BBQ Co. With around 15 pre-conceived options or a deep well of build-it-yourself ingredients from which to choose, guests can order a highly anticipated delight and watch it come to fruition in the open kitchen.

The scratch kitchen offers beef patties that are house ground with brisket, chuck and short rib; buttermilk fried or seared chicken breast; Arizona-farm raised bison; or the Impossible 2.0 veggie burger. Any one of these tantalizing offerings may be placed between a fresh La Baguette Parisienne bun, under a mountain of house-made mac & cheese, triple-fried fries, or cradled in a bed of greens. Rine’s playful passion for building a bodacious burger experience is apparent in the wickedly fun and dutifully scratch-made delights. He explains, “I always wanted a burger joint. There is so much you can do with this medium. I can really play and goof-off with this.” After pulling together the Funny Farm Hand, resplendent with creamy peanut butter, jalapeño raspberry jam, candied bacon, sweet hot pickles and white cheddar, Rine recalls, “I had to rest against the table for a minute. I needed a picture of this — it’s pretty amazing!”

Rine recognizes and respects that food is a personal thing, so whether you dare to devour one of his creations or build your own delicious concoction, belly up to the counter and order away. Under no circumstances, however, should you forget to grab at least one amazing side. A weeks-long experiment led to the perfectly prepared Pure Gold Potato French fries, punched, brined, and triple-fried daily to order. If you’re determined to go somewhat rogue, the heavenly mac & cheese or near sinful hushpuppies with jalapeño raspberry jam perfectly complement any of Rine’s or your own creations. Wash down the indulgence with a local soda or one of more than 40 beer options served individually or by multiples packed in a bucket of ice.

1021 N. Wilmot Rd.; 203-8884 divinebovineburgers.com

Charro Steak

Picture of The Charro Burger
The Charro Burger, available at Charro Steak.

The Flores family has served Tucsonans and visitors iconic Sonoran-style Mexican food since 1922 at El Charro Café. More recently, the city’s longest-running culinary legacy expanded to include pub, seafood, and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine spots. One of the latest additions to the Flores restaurant concepts is Charro Steak, with Executive Chef Gary Hickey at the helm. With an eye to purity of their main ingredient, Ray Flores explains, “We only buy grass-fed meat. No hormones, no antibiotics. The animals drink from natural springs. These are important details.”

The best bits and pieces trimmed from the naturally raised Arizona and Montana grass-fed beef are ground and formed into delectable half-pound patties known as Charro Burgers. Grilled to order over a hybrid mesquite fire/gas grill, and stacked with Willcox tomato, queso Manchengo, and Charro sauce, they are encased in Sunrise Bakery heritage Sonoran wheat buns. Oh, but wait, the Charro Burger fun isn’t over just yet. Add an over-easy cagefree egg, avocado, charred poblano, bleu cheese, pork belly or grass-fed chorizo (or any combination therein) for a blow-your mind, taste-bud-blasting experience. Pair the Charro Burger with hand-cut French fries, the Sonoran Au Gratin-style Papas de la Casa, or an order of classic Charro beans and prepare to stare down a serious case of food coma. Insider tip: Do not succumb to the coma before topping off the meal with a little dulce (sweet). Will it be the margarita lime flan, the tamal del Nutella or the PB&C (peanut butter & chocolate) tres leches cake? Maybe throw caution (and your top button) to the wind and go for the Dulceria Sample Board.

Naturally, working one’s way through all these amazing offerings will create a hearty thirst. Sip a glass or flight of red, white or rosé from the chef-curated wine menu. Choose from more than 25 whiskey, bourbon and scotch options, 20-plus beer labels, or an array of unique cocktails. Keep an eye out for one of the many local brands offered. Designated drivers and teetotalers may indulge in a non-alcoholic brew or the Charro Steak peach tea served with grilled peaches. With so many options, there’s one thing each and every diner will have — an unmistakably Old Pueblo dining tradition experience that won’t disappoint.

188 E. Broadway Blvd. (520) 485-1922 charrosteak.com

Truland Burgers & Greens

Photo of Truland Burgers & Greens’ Western Bleu Cheese Burger
Truland Burgers & Greens’ Western Bleu Cheese Burger.

Co-owners Jeff Katz and Paolo DeFilipis combined the concepts of Graze Premium Burgers and Choice Greens to serve Tucson’s north-siders with Truland Burgers & Greens, with a new location slated to open in Chandler in early 2020. Now in its fourth year, it’s humbly upscale with the heartbeat of a true “joint,” evidenced by the availability of canned beer, and beer and wine on tap. Certainly, we appreciate the delectable green offerings, of which Truland has many, but our gaze is on the plethora of things served in a bun. For vegetarians, there’s the locally sourced, smokey tepary bean and superfood veggie burger, which is pretty scrumptious by all measure. Chef strongly suggests burger fans enjoy two patties of Niman Ranch hormone/antibiotic-free beef or locally sourced Double Check Ranch grass-fed beef seared to medium well. The Truland Classic sports two slices of American cheese, lettuce, caramelized onions and Tru-sauce, and there are 15 available addons such as grilled crimini mushrooms. Maybe a double-patty chorizo burger with pepper jack cheese and Hatch green chiles tempts you, or perhaps you want to check out Katz’s fave, the Early Riser, with two slices of American cheese, a cage-free fried egg, all-natural nitrate/nitrate-free bacon and organic ketchup. The magnum opus of Truland’s burger offerings is the Western Bleu Cheese burger, adorned with bleu cheese, bacon, crispy onions, and barbecue sauce.

Without doubt, a perfect side for every Truland burger is an order of Kennebec potato French fries. They’re Belgian-style, twice-fried in non-GMO rice bran oil, and seasoned with kosher salt. Take it up a notch with the truffle fries treated with truffle oil, Parmesan, pecorino, parsley, and served with truffle mayo. If you manage to get a hand free from your burger of choice, wrap it around a Dragoon IPA or Barrio Blonde from the tap, or a can of Guinness or Bells Two Hearted Ale. A really nice assortment of wines is on tap or by the bottle if a little natural sulfite infusion is more to your liking. If, by some miracle, there is room for dessert, top off your Truland experience with a piece of their legendary carrot cake or an ambrosial all-natural ice cream milkshake. Warning, one or two bites or sips just won’t do — you’ll go big and go home super satisfied and planning another visit.

7332 N. Oracle Rd.; 395-2975 trulandburgers.com

Beaut Burger

Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike are flocking to the Mercado San Agustín (MSA) Annex for a feel good/tastes good meat-free burger bite. Five years ago, a seed was planted when vegan cuisine chef Kerry Lane and serial entrepreneur Ari Shapiro were on a hike in Canada and jonesing for a quick and good veggie burger. Not long after, the concept of Beaut Burger was born and realized by the duo — a no-frills lower-price-point veggie burger joint with cheap beer. It’s an everyman/ woman spot where people can enjoy a primal burger and fries experience minus the animal product.

Having recently celebrated its oneyear anniversary, Beaut has been warmly embraced by Tucson, and the people of the westside in particular. Shapiro admits that he, a vegetarian, and Lane, a vegan, are very particular about their food. Therefore, the vast majority of menu items were conceived by Lane and made inhouse daily, by hand — including buns, pickled poblanos, tamarind chutney, radish sauce, barbecue sauce, slaw and burger patties. “I’m not a culinarian. Kerry is the mind and hands-on genius behind the menu. I’m just a scrappy entrepreneur who wanted to be able to get a veggie burger minus a linen napkin and steep price tag,” Shapiro explains.

Loath to pick a favorite of Beaut’s fabulous fare, Shapiro points to the B4 as the best-selling burger, proudly proclaiming it as his late-game contribution. Piled atop a proprietary hand-formed patty of grains, walnuts, beans, vegetables, and spices, the griddled mushrooms and caramelized onions harken back to a favorite of the entrepreneur’s youth. Beaut fanatics also are partial to the B9, a near-heavenly compilation of roasted eggplant, pepita pesto, and house-made mozzarella. And for the chile-pepper-loving and socially sensitive veggie burger connoisseur, the B Kind burger stacked with jalapeño and roasted zucchini, slathered with vegan sour cream also offers proceeds donated to Ben’s Bells. A side of the hand-cut russet fries are always an amazing bet, but beer-battered cauliflower bites or some zippy housemade coleslaw won’t be regretted, either. Between cow-friendly bites, wrap your hand around house-made limeade, a $2 Miller High Life, or a 12-ounce can of wine. Oh, and don’t forget to grab Fido a homemade dog-biscuit. High-style, out-of-sight flavor combinations, and delightfully industrial- chic atmosphere make Beaut Burger Tucson’s every-man, -woman, and -dog spot for a quick, tasty, healthy, burger bite.

267 South Avenida del Convento 344-5907; beautburger.com

Lindy’s on 4th

The OMG Burger, a 12-patty, threepound monolith of insane indulgence and bragging rights, may have put Lindy’s on the national foodie radar with appearances on Man v. Food, Meat & Potatoes, the Travel Channel, and Food Network’s Ginormous Foods. But since opening in 2005, Lindy’s has been considered a daytime or late-night hot spot to grab a bite for Tucsonans, especially UA students. Originally more of a sandwich spot, owner Lindon Reilly proves it pays to play with your food. With a menu eventually skewing toward the burger bandwagon, Lindy’s has become a favored new/old burger joint in Tucson.

Even after moving across the street, burger lovers still flock to Lindy’s on Fourth, some for the burger challenge, but most for the scandalously delicious seven-ounce (base) patty creations. Use a BUSS pass (Build Up Something Special) by choosing a beef or black bean patty, or fried or seared chicken breast. Select a “holding medium” — salad bowl, lettuce wrap or brioche, gluten-free, or honey bun (to name a few). Then get to building — fries, tots, grilled veggies, Lil’ Smokies, bacon … you name it. You can leave the stress of so many choices behind by picking one of Lindy’s own concoctions. The OG, a classic with lettuce, tomato, onion, and Lindy’s sauce stands strong, but if you really want to arouse your senses, opt for the Big Bang, with homemade jalapeño macaroni salad, Lil’ Smokies, potato chips, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and sour cream n’ onion spread. One of their signature burgers is for pyromaniacs only, with green chile, jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, guacamole and ghost pepper sauce. Of course, no man or woman can live on burgers alone, so a Lindy’s side is a must. The Phat chips — house-fried and smothered with mac & cheese, sour cream, chives and bacon bits is a popular choice, but there’s also French fries or tater tots fighting for breath under guac, green chiles, jalapeños and pepper jack. Whet your whistle with dollar-off craft draft or a $5 signature cocktail during happy hour or $5 Mimosas and Bloody Marys all day on the weekends. If you can still walk comfortably after your meal, be sure to work off some of those calories with a stroll around Fourth Avenue. The walk will help you decide which of Lindy’s burgers to tackle on your next visit.

500 N. Fourth Ave.; 207-6970 lo4th.com

Union Public House

A Foothills staple since October 31, 2011, Union Public House has been an anchor for good eats in St. Philip’s Plaza since its opening. Aside from the superstitiously macabre opening date, the only thing scary about the cornerstone eatery is the frightful decadence of its offerings. As many dishes as possible are infused with Chef Tony Coluci’s version of “flavor crystals” — bacon. From the beginning the Union Burger has been a constant menu item and far-and-away fan favorite.

Photo of Union Burger
Union Public House’s famed Union Burger.

General Manager David Serafin explains that the staple is “an exquisite creation exactly the way it is served. It’s not made to put a bunch of sauces on and cover up.” A half-pound Union Grind patty of 80/20-ground grass-fed beef is perfectly seared to taste and dressed with English Red Dragon cheddar, house-made bacon jam (i.e., Flavor crystals reduced with sugar, vinegar and apples), and red winepickled red onions. All this deliciousness is surrounded top and bottom by a brioche bun made in house by baker Travis Evans. Serafin explains that it’s a burger made for a purist — pure ingredients, scratch made, to order. If hoisting this massive feast is a little scary, opt for the sliders instead. Union Sliders are smaller-in-stature, spicy offerings of the Union Grind topped with bacon (of course), cheddar, and house-pickled jalapeños. For the burger lover unwilling to buck tradition, the All-American burger sporting the more traditional costuming of lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar, mustard, and mayo inside a house-baked sesame bun awaits.

Whichever amazing burger is chosen, make sure it doesn’t come to the party alone. Invite some of the house-punched Chipperbec French fries or hand-sliced potato chips along. Or pick the insanely amazing Poutine fries bathed in housemade gravy, white cheddar cheese curds, and chives, or a cup of Yesterday’s Soup (house-made soup given time for the flavors to marry and blossom). Stop into Union Public House anytime for an amazing burger or slider, but make a point of dropping in for the joint Halloween/anniversary party complete with live music, spirits (of all kinds), and a costume contest. 4340 N Campbell Ave., Ste. 103; 329-8575 uniontucson.com

Live help

Foot Notes

Keeping your feet healthy involves preventive care, and knowing when to see a professional.

by Kimberly Schmitz

Think about feet for a moment. They are really quite a marvel. Twenty-six bones, 30 joints, more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments, and nearly 7,000 nerve endings all work together to get us where we want to go, test the water, cut a rug, or shut the door when our hands are full. So why is it that so many people dismiss, ignore, self-diagnose or You-Tubetreat foot pain?

Dr. Glesinger
Photo by Thomas Veneklasen

 

 

Tucson native April Ross Glesinger, DPM, of Arizona Podiatry Associates, understands the struggle. She regularly shares with her patients the reason she went into podiatry — her “terrible feet.” She has flat feet, suffers from plantar fasciitis (heel pain) and neuromas (painful nerve bundles), and has worn orthotics most of her life. Dr. Glesinger has dedicated her career to ensuring people are able to lead active, pain-free lives. She shed some light on why many patients hesitate to see a podiatrist when issues arise. “Feet are such a personal issue. Patients tell me all the time that they were afraid to come in because they didn’t want to hear that they needed some painful procedure or would have to wear unflattering ‘old-lady’ shoes.”

Simple, painless and non-invasive solutions are available to treat many foot and lower leg issues to help people return to their favored activities. Often the causes of foot complications are as individual as the patient and may require a specific combination of treatments for resolution. Yet, some conditions, left untreated or treated incorrectly, may become life threatening. Fortunately, Tucson-based podiatric physicians, as well as interdisciplinary teams of practitioners and researchers throughout the country, are dedicated to diagnosing, treating and resolving minor and severe maladies below the knee.

Take The First Step

Dr. Aung, Bob Hitchcock, Design Photography

Undoubtedly, feet take the brunt of daily living, especially here in the desert. Toes get stubbed, Legos are stepped on, and stickers or cactus spines find their way into feet one way or another. Even just a long day of standing or exploring a new desert trail may leave our “dogs” feeling a little more beat up than usual. So how do we know when it’s time to consult a professional with a foot problem?

Barbara Aung, DPM, DABPM, CWS, CPMA, CSFAC, of Aung FootHealth Clinic, suggests people imagine whatever problem they suffer on their feet is happening to their eyes. “If people have a recurring lesion on their eye, they’re not going to perform some procedure they see on an infomercial,” reasons Dr. Aung. “They’re going to go to a professional to have it treated properly. The same should be true with foot issues.” She suggests paying attention to warning signs such as pain, swelling, sores, or any deformation or sudden change in the feet. “That’s your body telling you that something is wrong, and you should see a professional.”

When patients visit a podiatrist they should be prepared to provide as much information about their medical history, lifestyle, and current condition as possible. Prepare a list of questions about your physician’s diagnosis of your foot problems, and ask about available treatment options to create a partnership with a practitioner. Patients also should be open to learn preventive self-care and address problems in other areas of the body that may be manifesting in the feet.

“A good biomechanical evaluation of patients is important,” Dr. Glesinger explains. “We watch patients walk and ask a lot of questions about lifestyle — what surfaces they usually stand on, what kind of shoes they wear, etcetera. Sometimes issues like leg-length discrepancy or shoulder tilt may be affecting the gait and causing problems in the feet. We’ll treat the immediate issue and recommend a good physical therapist to create an exercise regimen to prevent the issue from recurring.”

“We don’t just trim toenails all day. We really are looking at the function of the foot to help people move and walk better. Sometimes with minimal intervention, or otherwise with drastic action,” Dr. Aung adds.

The most common issues podiatrists treat include ingrown toenails, plantar fasciitis, corns, bunions, and diabetes-related ulcers and neuropathy.

Nailed It

Most people can identify an ingrown toenail. Children as well as adults may experience them. It’s a common condition that occurs when the toenail grows into the soft flesh around the nail bed. The imbedded nail causes the surrounding skin to become red, tender, and may even result in an infection. In minor cases, a quick, precise trim of the nail will resolve the issue. However, if the issue is recurrent, or the affected skin is hot, draining, or there are red streaks originating in the affected area, further treatment is required. A podiatrist may remove part of the nail and apply a chemical to prevent that section from regrowing.

Podiatrists also will offer to train their patients on how to trim nails properly to prevent recurrence. Some feet are genetically predisposed to have ingrown nails. In other instances, the condition may be caused by gait mechanics or improperly fitting shoes. Often, by the time adults seek professional treatment for ingrown toenails, they have become a recurrent issue. In these cases, orthotics or physical therapy may be part of a treatment plan.

A Time for Heeling

Plantar fasciitis, most common among women and very active people, is inflammation of the soft tissue, or fascia, that connects the calcaneus (heel bone) to the toes. Symptoms may range from an irritating dull ache in the heel to extreme, debilitating pain when active or at rest.

The pain is caused when ligaments become taut and pull so hard the pressure creates micro-tears and swelling at the anchor point in the heel. Dr. Aung sees many plantar fasciitis cases. She notes the condition usually results from body form and mechanics, and 90 percent of the time, it can be resolved with anti-inflammatory drugs, stretching, icing, and use of orthotics. Although over-the-counter “quick-fix” solutions abound, Dr. Aung explains that patients often come in after they’ve tried many of them to no avail. “Custom-made orthotics are the key,” she states. “Something hard that won’t lose its shape should be created for each foot. One-size-fits-all arch supports or shoes with built-in support may not control the arch enough.”

Slightly more invasive plantar fasciitis treatment may include injections to the affected area. Dr. Aung is currently participating in a clinical trial of a procedure to apply Botox directly to pain receptors to relieve symptoms. More extreme cases of plantar fasciitis may require a minimally invasive surgery. The plantar fasciotomy procedure involves surgically releasing tight fascia tissue through a small incision in the bottom of the foot. Patients may bear weight right after surgery and can fully recover and return to previous activities in several weeks.

Where the Corn(s) Grow

Corns on the feet are hardened layers of skin that develop on pressure points to protect the deeper tissue from friction or pressure. They generally develop on the bottom or side of the foot and have a central core. Improperly fitted shoes and biomechanical imbalances are most often the cause of corns and calluses. Dr. Glesinger vehemently discourages patients from purchasing and applying over-the-counter medicated pads to corns. “People usually spend a lot of money and order the wrong treatment for specific issues,” she states. Often the medication or acid in these remedies is too strong and burns holes in the area that can become a much larger problem. Patients are urged not to pick, cut, or peel corns, but rather to have them treated by a professional.

Treatments may include application of topical medication or precise shaving of the built-up, hardened skin. Per a biomechanical analysis, orthotics use or a change of footwear may be recommended to keep the issue from recurring.

Out of Joint

Bunions are a deformity of the big toe joint causing the toe to lean at an angle toward the outside of the foot. They develop slowly and are not always painful. The condition may become painful if the toe places pressure on, or even dislocates, the adjacent toes. Tight shoes can exacerbate pain in the joint and may contribute to the condition, but bunions generally are structural defects. Treatments range from proper shoe fitting, to orthotics, to joint replacement surgery.

Experts recommend seeking professional care long before bunions become painful. Most over-the-counter fixes, which include toe separators and bunion-adapted shoes, will not hurt or exacerbate the condition, but they won’t repair it, either. Without proper treatment, bunions will get worse, placing pressure on the joint cartilage and even damaging nerves. “If you treat the problem when it’s a smaller one, you don’t have to be so invasive. Orthotics don’t reverse the issue, but they help people function better and keep things from getting worse,” explains Dr. Aung.

Struck a Nerve

Dr. Armstrong Photo by Kris Hanning

Taking excellent care of our feet is important for everyone. However, for people with diabetes, it can be a matter of life or death. Diabetes affects 30 million people in the U.S., and 415 million worldwide. Diabetic foot complications cost more than the five most-costly cancers in the U.S. today. According to David Armstrong, Ph.D., DPM, UA Professor of Surgery and author of more than 240 research papers on the subject, every 1.2 seconds someone in America gets a diabetic foot ulcer or wound. Every 20 seconds someone gets a diabetes-related amputation. After an amputation, 50-75 percent of patients die within five years.

In diabetic patients, a pro-inflammatory state created by high blood sugar and resultant high triglycerides deadens the nerve response in lower legs and feet, often called neuropathy. This condition causes numbness, or “loss of the gift of pain,” as Dr. Armstrong describes it. “These patients literally can wear a hole in their foot. They can’t feel it. It’s akin to walking on a broken leg that you didn’t know was broken.” Injuries sustained to neuropathic limbs can develop devastating infections that can necessitate, in extreme circumstances, amputation of the foot or even the leg.

Experts agree that people with diabetes should include a podiatrist in their treatment team and be examined by them at least annually. Diabetics should always take any foot issue very seriously (whether it is painful or not) and consult a medical professional as soon as one is noted. Regular podiatric care can reduce a patient’s risk of developing complications 20-80 percent according to Dr. Armstrong.

In 2008 Dr. Armstrong established the Southwestern Academic Limb Salvage Alliance, and more recently became the co-director of the Southern Arizona Limb Salvage Alliance (SALSA). He joined the University of Arizona’s Department of Surgery to build an advanced clinic for wound care as a part of an interdisciplinary team there.

“Feet are an anatomic peninsula. This forces us to team up with colleagues in other disciplines to solve problems,” Armstrong observes. “We have the team, and we are building the technology.”

There are currently more than 30 clinical trials SALSA-associated clinicians and researchers are conducting to investigate seemingly futuristic treatments, such as stem cell wound care, spreadable skin graft paste, and in-shoe exoskeletons to offload foot pressure. All are focused on saving limbs and lives.

However, Dr. Armstrong’s most prominent message, aligning with the sentiments of Drs. Glesinger and Aung, is that prevention pays. Don’t wait. Don’t perform a procedure from the Internet to cure foot issues. Collaborate with a podiatric physician to alleviate issues and learn how to keep your feet in optimal condition so they can keep you healthy, active, and moving well through life.

Live help

The Hole Story

By Kimberly Schmitz

Photography by Tom Spitz

Though National Donut Day was celebrated last month, nearly any day is perfect for indulging in these iconic pastries. Here are six locally owned shops that will make your eyes glaze over!

Irene’s Holy Donuts

Carla Elenes at Irene’s Holy Donuts holds up the giant Homer Simpson donut.

A trans-Pacific family owned franchise, Irene’s Holy Donuts is a recent addition to Tucson’s donut scene. Irene and Steve Heiman opened the original location in Kona, Hawaii in 2015. Irene, a former Realtor, sought another path — and received a divine directive. After formulating recipes in her home kitchen and testing them on neighbors, she opened the doors to her calling, making amazing donuts an

More than 300 taste-bud-blowing flavors of donuts rotate on and off the daily menu.

d changing lives. Through the shop she offered second chances to homeless and “forgotten” youth in the Kona Community. Compelled to retire off-island, the couple landed in Tucson and opened a second Holy Donuts on Fourth Avenue. More than 300taste-bud-blowing flavors of donuts rotate on and off the daily menu with 60 or so available by 6:30 a.m. every day. Anything with passion fruit goes fast, but every single delectable donut (approximately 2,000), including to-die-for traditional glazed, horchata, and even a key lime margarita flavor, is sold out every day. After 8:30 a.m. savory Hawaiian delights like beef and chicken skewers, spam and eggs Musubi, and Loco Moco are available for the hip and hungry. Don’t expect things to slow down after sunset at Irene’s. Adjacent to the shop is the Donut Hole, a lively hotspot serving donuts and drinks with a steady menu of local entertainment from open mike to Reggae, and Indie to rock sounds. The Hole is open until 2:30 a.m. weekend nights. Is it a donut shop or a donut-themed nightclub? Who cares? It’s amazing and definitely a one-of-a-kind spot worth a visit.

340 N. 4th Ave.; Facebook.com/HolyDonutsTucson

Le Cave’s Bakery

Each day, thousands of original recipe donuts, empanadas, fruit pies, cookies and cakes are served to locals and visitors from as far away as Australia.

With a new look, location and ownership, this long-time Tucson favorite continues to serve up its iconic, internationally craved donuts and pastries. The bakery’s doors first opened in 1935 and last year it changed hands. New owners and native Tucsonans Naomi and Chris Pershing had more connection with Le Cave’s than originally thought. Not only did the uncle of their new operations manager bake at the original site, but Naomi’s grandmother stopped in regularly with schoolmates from Nogales! Per Grandma’s direct orders, the Pershings won’t change a single ingredient in any of Le Cave’s amazing offerings. Each day, thousands of original recipe donuts, empanadas, fruit pies, cookies and cakes are served to locals and vi

sitors from as far away as Australia. Although the Pershings — former chocolatiers — favor chocolate whipped cream and chocolate frosted donuts, the original frosted, chocolate- glazed and maple-glazed donuts are customer favorites. The popularity of these sweet, centerless wonders, however, is closely rivaled by that of the cherry, pineapple or pumpkin empanadas, or generous slices of Le Cave’s iconic tres leches cake. A cadre of regulars boasts 30- and 40-year traditions of celebrating birthdays with Le Cave’s cakes! Specialty cakes can be ordered 24 to 48 hours in advance or a freshly baked “stock” cake may be personalized on the spot. There’s no special occasion required to experience what aficionados from Mexico to Canada and Australia to Germany are raving about from this 84-year-strong Tucson sweet treat staple.

3950 E. 22nd St.; 624-2561; LeCaves.com

La Estrella Bakery

La Estrella Bakery is a traditional panaderia so authentic it seems to have been plucked from south of the border and planted in South Tucson. It’s had a strong 33-year run with no signs of slowing. Antonio and Martha Franco established a new/old tradition when they opened shop in 1986. Reminiscent of the bakeries that were center points of Mexican communities in eras past, this Old Pueblo favorite also is a bonafide star — the subject of the 2012 documentary Dulce Tucson (Sweet Tucson). Maybe the fanfare drew newcomers, but the phenomenal baked goods and ambrosial menudo brings them back. Certainly, one of the few benefits of being an adult is reaching for the sugar before the spice. So we gravitate toward the temptingly sweet and perfectly prepared donuts at La Estrella. Twists, glazed, and bear claws, oh my! Fruit-filled, long Johns, the list goes on but there’s so much more. Churros, elotes, cookies and sweet-filled chimis round out the offerings. If you’re on a pilgrimage for something sugary, you may feel as if you’ve found the holy grail here, and even stumbled into paradise with an order of La Estrella’s pan de leche (Mexican sweet bread). Both locations boast a steady stream of regulars from near and far. It’s an iconic Tucson bakery for some, a regular household goods stop for others, and a community center for many. Stop in to grab a bite, then return for what you missed out on the first time.

5266 S. 12th Ave., 741-0645, and 120 S. Avenida del Convento, 393-3320; LaEstrellaBakeryIncAZ.com

Alvernon Donut Shop

If you’re in the mood for a bigger-than-your- face bear claw, a colossal cinnamon bun, a delectable apple fritter or just about any other donut flavor you can name, hop into the homey Alvernon Donut Shop. Baker/owner Po will chat you up when he’s not pouring his heart and hundreds of other ingredients into his doughy delights. He says he’ll go crazy if he ever tried to count how many scrumptious treats he sells in a day. But he’ll tell you all day long about his secret ingredient — love. Po was in a California carpenters union when he heard the shop was for sale. He bought it, picked up stakes and moved to Tucson more than 17 years ago. Millions of donuts later, he is still head baker, chief conversationalist, and passionate community supporter. Among many other causes, Po ardently supports the Reid Park Zoo and Gospel Rescue Mission. One dedicated, long-time customer buys three- or four-dozen apple fritters to take home to Texas for friends and family! Don’t overlook the savory options like the ham, cheese and jalapeño croissants or the jalapeño poppers with cream cheese and bacon. Po takes his offerings very seriously and prides himself on the freshness and authenticity of every bite. It’s rumored that Alvernon Donuts also offers the best service in the biz. Hours are roughly 5 a.m. to 3 p.m.

1450 S. Alvernon Way; 326-3307

Donut King

Let’s solve the debate here. It’s Donut King. As explained by the current owner Paul Tith, it used to be King Donut, but when it changed hands in 2006, it became Donut King. Paul managed Donut King for years and just recently took over ownership. He served in the Navy, became a certified aircraft mechanic, then settled into his calling. But hey, does the debate on the name really matter? It will become a distant memory as you wash down any one (or four, no judgment) of the superfluffy, tasty creations from this Tucson gem in a proudly blue-collar neighborhood. This place sports an earlier closing time. But hey, they’ve got their doors open with fresh, warm, tasty treats long before many of us are out of bed. No crazy frills here, just a dizzying array of die-hard donut fan favorites, such as maple bars, chocolate covered, glazed, sprinkles, fruit-filled — you name it. Though it’s best known for its sweets, incredible stuffed croissant sandwiches are available, as well as hot or iced coffee poured to order, or something cold from the cooler. Of the 700 donuts sold every day, the classic glazed are the first to go, so get in early to grab yours and support this family owned and operated business.

150 W. Grant Rd.; 623-7260

Young Donut Shop

From some of the best old-fashioned, glazed, and blueberry-filled to almost sinfully delightful apple fritters and the infamous braided tiger tails, these deep-fried delicacies will have you stashing donut cash for when you’re in the neighborhood

Rummage through your couch cushions or forgotten coat pockets for some cash to pick up a few (or a few dozen) donuts at this humble, eastside joint. They don’t take cards, but the airy, delicious delights are well worth the effort to pay in good old greenbacks. (There’s an ATM inside if you forget.) Young’s, after all, was named the Best Donut Shop in Arizona by media website Thrillist a few years ago. Undaunted by the glory, for nearly a decade sibling team Sophy and Keng Se begins baking before the rooster even considers making a peep, day in and day out to provide donuts to the masses. From some of the best old-fashioned, glazed, and blueberry-filled to almost sinfully delightful apple fritters and the infamous braided tiger tails, these deep-fried delicacies will have you stashing donut cash for when you’re in the neighborhood. Get here early for the best selection, and if you’re travelling from a distance, call ahead. This is a family run shop that closes for holidays. Young’s is known for offering service with a smile and often a little extra something to fill in the blank space in a box or bag. If it’s not your turn for a freebie, rest assured that you won’t be disappointed. The prices are so reasonable you’ll likely buy more than you’d dare to eat in a sitting anyway. Amazing assortment, friendly service, sweet surprises — if that’s not bang for your buck, we don’t know what is!

1043 N. Kolb Rd.; 298-0020

Much to Do … In San Diego!

THROUGHOUT 2019, SAN DIEGO CELEBRATES ITS FOUNDING 250 YEARS AGO as the first settlement of Alta California. Old Town San Diego, which was the original location of the mission and the presidio that started it all, will be the site of various events, including a Founder’s Day Festival, September 14-15.

From the Editors

Petco Park in downtown San Diego. Photo courtesy of San Diego Padres.

Fast forward 200 years from the city’s start, and you wind up in 1969, the year that MLB’s San Diego Padres first took the field. Petco Park, in the heart of downtown, will host games including special promotions all during July, August and September in the run-up to the Fall Classic.

Cosplayers at San Diego Comic-Con. Photo courtesy of San Diego Tourism Authority.

Fans of comic books, movies, and other areas of pop culture will be drawn to the San Diego Convention Center July 18-21 for the 50th annual Comic-Con. What began as a gathering of a small group of collectors has grown over the years to become a major event for film studios to promote their projects, especially those in the fantasy and science fiction fields.

Parade Crowd Flag displayed
at Pride Weekend. Photo courtesy of San Diego Pride.

July also is the month for San Diego Pride Weekend (July 13-15), an event that includes everything from a Spirit of Stonewall Rally, to a Pride of Hillcrest Block Party, to a 5k race, as well as live performances from big-name musical groups and entertainers.

LEGOLAND, site of Red, White and BOOM!
Photo courtesy of LEGOLAND Resort California

You would expect a community with such a vibrant cultural life to have an amazing Fourth of July celebration, and San Diego doesn’t disappoint, with several taking place in the immediate area. The Port of San Diego holds the largest fireworks show in the county, titled Big Bay Boom. If you want to get a water-level view of it, the Maritime Museum, Hornblower and Flagship all offer cruises that will afford spectacular views of the show. Coronado stages not only a parade that lasts a full two hours, but also a family concert in Spreckels Park and fireworks over Glorietta Bay. Up the road in Carlsbad, families can enjoy a variety of activities, including pyrotechnics during “Red, White and BOOM!”

For more information, go to www.sandiego.org.

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