A historical house and a delicious Italian restaurant

The House at Secret Garden is a historical house. It began in 1929 with the owners, Walter and Blanche Strong. After 28 years, they sold the property and house. Later, the new owners turned much of the acreage into subdivisions. The chef and his mother co-own and operate the Italian restaurant. Its address is 2501 E Baseline Road in Phoenix.

The House

The House is a two-story Spanish Revival house. Walter and Blanche Strong owned the house from 1929 – 1957. They planted the 100 acres surrounding the house with orange and grapefruit trees, one of Phoenix’s largest orchards. Their fragrance fills the air as visitors strolled through the acreage. In 1957, they sold the house. Thereafter, it became a citrus operation before developers subdivided it. From 1989 to 1999, it was the Baseline Mansion, where the residents hosted an annual music festival, Earth Mother Mind Jam. Today, only five acres remain. The residents, Dave and Nancy Mata, offer this place as a wedding venue and banquet facility.  They bought the place in 2003. Seven years later, the Matas asked Christofolo to become a chef of the restaurant. He added the kitchen and planted a vegetable garden near a carob tree.

The Chef

Dustin Christofolo is the chef and co-owner, who is friendly and likes to chat with diners, if he is not too busy. He graduated from colleges in New York and Italy as well as a wine institute in California. The food, he cooks, is from his garden, and he provides new choices regularly. However, he does have some favorites like the appetizer, grilled pork-belly accompanied by a main meal like grilled lamb chops, or pappardelle, ending with sweet potato cake for dessert. He gets his food ideas from his garden and the foods grown by local farmers. The restaurant, The Farm Kitchen, is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. Jan Francis H. Feliciano also is a chef there. He recently graduated from The Italian Culinary Academy in New York. He trained in Italian as well in the United States.     

The House at Secret Garden in Phoenix, Arizona is a place of peace and solitude. The House itself has history, and the restaurant serves delicious Italian food. The House also has orchards and gardens, which make for a peaceful setting. Located at the base South Mountain, it is not easy to find but well worth the effort of making a number U-turns around the dense vegetation, before finally reaching the parking lot.