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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Ross’s Hooked and Cooked

Starting a new life, exploring new places, or pursuing a long held dream, moving to the Southwest can mean all of these things.  For Charlie and Bari—Ellen Ross, the move to Phoenix was the realization of all of the above.
Married three years ago, the couple decided to leave the East behind (Bari Ross came from New York and Charles Ross hailed from Virginia ) and settle in Phoenix. Their goal was to follow a dream they had both long held: open a restaurant, but not just any establishment.  
“We will sell seafood in the desert,” said a confident Bari Ross when discussing the focus of the restaurant.   Opened five months ago, the appropriately titled “Ross’s Hooked and Cooked ” specializes in Southern-style Seafood.
Noticing a lack of similar establishments in the area, they opted for South Mountain as their place of choice.   After looking at central Phoenix, mid-town and other locations around the Valley, the decision to move to the southern section of the city was based on the new growth and the new possibilities emerging in this ever-expanding area. 
Based on traditions, techniques and skills that have been passed down, the recipes by and large come from Bari Ross’ Grandmother.   A consummate cook, she was able to literally pick items seemingly at random and mix them together into food that was beyond belief.  “It is like magic,” Ross remarked on her Grandmother’s proficiency in the kitchen.  From one meal at “Ross’s” it is obvious that talent has been passed on to the next generation.
Being from the Southeast myself, I have always had a fondness for fried Catfish.  If you are too, you are in for a real pleasure that is hard, if not impossible, to find outside of the South.  The Catfish dinner was a marvel of subtle tastes. The batter they use is simply beyond words.  Accompanied by a side dish of candied yams and coleslaw, this is Southern-style cooking at its finest hour.  Unless you plan on a trip to North Carolina, Louisiana or Kentucky, you will not find anything even remotely this good in this part of the country as far as authentic Southern seafood is concerned. 
Complimenting the food, the service and the atmosphere were impressive as well.  Despite the austere exterior, the interior is immaculately decorated with colorful paintings, yellowish toned walls and dark wooden furniture. The look is minimal, but amazingly luxurious and comfortable. If there is such a thing as laid back deluxe family dining, Ross’s defines the concept.
Wine, beer and assorted alcoholic beverages are also available to compliment your meal,  not on conspicuous display. This is very much a family friendly place with the “adult” beverages in the background. “We are not pushing alcohol. It is an accommodation for adults,” Bari Ross says.
All of this comes at a price–fortunately it’s an affordable one.  Dinner items begin at $11.99 and tops out at $13.99, including two side dishes and cornbread, a staple of Southern cuisine.   Seafood gumbo, crab legs, salmon and catfish round out the seafood list along with—surprisingly–barbeque beef brisket on the lunch menu.  The “Anytime Special,” consists of all the fish and spaghetti you can eat served with salad and garlic bread for a modest $10.99. Add $2 if you want catfish catfish.  A popular offering has been the Sunday buffet featuring seafood, southern cuisine and assorted new items available every Sunday.
With all of the great items and specials, the interesting question is: Are people even aware this treasure exists?
“The challenge is letting people know you are here. Creating ways for people to find you,” said Bari Ross. “After the last two months, (word) is spreading. They come back and bring their families.”
Not only is word of mouth working for them, guests to the Valley are finding their way to Ross’s. “We are picking up Tourists,” Ross continued. It was a statement given ample proof on my first night there.  An entire van filled with conventioneers made a considerable journey to find Ross’s, and were pleased once they arrived.
Combining great food, friendly service and a relaxing atmosphere, Ross’s Hooked and Cooked is giving South Mountain bragging rights to the best Southern Seafood to be found.  Accommodating and warm, there is a lot to like and enjoy here.
But there is one important note, don’t even ask the chef for the “secret recipe.”  Believe me, I tried, and pleaded, but the secret will remain a family treasure. 
Luckily, we can all enjoy the fine food Ross’s is cooking up and at price points that make this the best deal going.
Ross’s Cooked and Hooked
Seafood/Southern Food Restaurant
1301 East Broadway Road
Phoenix, AZ 85040
Phone: 602-268-7677
Fax: 602-268-7885
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 11 am to 7 pm
Thursday through Saturday 11 am to 8 pm
Sunday noon to 5 pm
Closed Mondays

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