ZuZu Executive Chef Russell LaCasce

ZuZu Executive Chef Russell LaCasce has "thoroughly reimagined" the Valley Ho Hotel restaurant's dining experience.

As the saying goes, the kitchen is the heart of one’s home; and after months of completely revamping the space and its menu, ZuZu is just that for Hotel Valley Ho: the heart of the hotel.

ZuZu restaurant will debut its new menu and all-new, fully redesigned interior on Oct. 7 – the first redesign of the space since it reopened with the hotel in 2005. 

“With a new design paired with the continuation of our current traditions, like our Monday Night Chef’s Table, monthly ‘Show Stopper’ Shakes and Chefs and Farmers Market Series, we hope to inspire our guests with a taste of a thoroughly reimagined Scottsdale experience,” said Executive Chef Russell LaCasce.

The new ZuZu menu will focus on small, sharable plates, offering guests an opportunity to try a variety of dishes, LaCasce said.

“I love the idea of communal, tapas-style dining. It’s progressive, it encourages collaborative tasting, and invites connections through a shared dining experience,” he added.

The dishes will feature ingredients from Hotel Valley Ho’s new 240-square-foot herb garden,  brimming with a wide variety of crops such as eggplant, peppers, basil, thyme and cilantro. 

“I believe in fresh ingredients that you can source sustainably straight from your backyard. With the addition of the new garden, I’m excited to plate dishes and serve up drinks that feature fresh herbs and vegetables from right here on property,” LaCasce said.

ZuZu will continue working with local farmers and purveyors, including Duncan’s Trading Company, McClendon’s Select-Local Harvest, Berto’s Gelato, Schreiner’s Fine Sausage and Hickman’s Family Farms.

ZuZu will also offer two monthly revolving dishes, including Cut of the Moment, a savory dish with a unique plating design; and the Farmer’s Plate, a vegetarian-friendly option.

LaCasce will kick off the Farmer’s Plate concept with a butternut raviolo, complete with sage butter, herbed walnuts, and parmesan. 

“We decided to go with a butternut squash spice-inspired dish first to welcome the onset of the fall season with hearty, nostalgic flavors,” he said.

ZuZu will offer new signature dishes, including salmon belly poke with duck fat cracker, oxtail pappardelle with foie gras, and crispy pork shank with sour-apple-molasses glaze, cucumber-tarragon yogurt and pita.

LaCasce said he’s particularly excited for guests to taste the crispy pork shank and the Hiramasa crisp, composed of radish, onion confit, pickled fresno and yuzu chili mayo.

“The explosion of flavors that you receive from each dish is remarkable,” he said.

While crafting the new menu, LaCasce said he was not only inspired by the seasonal ingredients from Hotel Valley Ho’s new garden, but also untraditional flavors.

“I also like to experiment with unique, non-traditional flavors that encourage our guests to explore new areas of their palate and give them a dynamic dining experience that they can’t find anywhere else in town,” he said.

ZuZu will serve brunch every day and will keep diner favorites on the menu, including the vanilla churro waffle, Southwest elote salad and Korean short rib tacos. 

New to the menu are a handful of desserts, including the sparkly ZuZu Chocolate Bar, a donut sundae, and a buttermilk pie with blood-orange-soaked strawberries, candy honeycomb and whipped cream.

The restaurant’s famous “Show Stopper” Shake will get an adults-only makeover, too: They can now be spiked with alcohol. 

Or, diners can choose from ZuZu’s new cocktails, including the ZuZu Mango Tango served with a grilled jalapeño from the herb garden, and the Cosmo Tamarindo, which combines orange vodka, curaçao, cranberry, piña, and lime.

The new ZuZu space was designed by Scottsdale-based Mendil + Meyer Design Studio and will maintain its mid-century design, but with a contemporary twist. Think neon signs, custom terrazzo tabletops, wood screens and bold lighting.

The color scheme combines warm pinks and dusty blues in an effort to embrace Arizona’s notable sunset and sunrise.

ZuZu will also feature a new wine room called the Vine Vault, as well as a hidden private dining room called the Rosie Room.

The Rosie Room was inspired by Rosalyn “Rosie” Bennett Lyon, the matriarch of the family that owns Hotel Valley Ho and the home cook after which ZuZu is named.

Lyon received her nickname from her granddaughter, Tiffany Lyon. 

But, of course, LaCasce is most excited for the Kitchen Table, a new action station where he will cook tableside every evening.

“It’s especially exciting to see the Kitchen Table, my new chef station, come to life with the ability for me and my team to interact with guests and show off some of the new dishes that will be featured on the menu,” he said.

On the weekends, brunchers will see the station transformed into an indulgent seafood display, one that will complement the restaurant’s famous Bloody Mary + Mimosa Bar. 

“The kitchen is the heart of every home, and we are thrilled that ZuZu will anchor the Hotel Valley Ho experience in a similar, lively fashion,” LaCasce said.