Kitchen Doors: Cala in Scottsdale, Spinato’s Pizzeria & a Sugar Explosion

New in Town – Cala Brings Mediterranean Vibe to Scottsdale

Celebrity chef Beau MacMillan and culinary talent Peter McQuaid open a new hot spot

When one of Arizona’s most notable chefs opens a new restaurant, there is a lot of excitement. Chef Beau MacMillan, who has been at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain for more than two decades and started the Nirvana Food and Wine Festival in 2017, is the culinary director at Cala at the new Senna House hotel in Scottsdale, which opened in January.

Cala means “coast” in Spanish, and the restaurant offers a Mediterranean vibe in its food and beverage with influences from Greece, Spain, Italy and Morocco, as well as in its décor and high-energy atmosphere.

“Cala is like a Mediterranean escape with coastal cuisine and cocktails,” said executive chef Peter McQuaid. “We focus on fresh ingredients, including seafood, handmade pasta and pizza dough, and cocktails with bright flavors.”

Photo courtesy of Shoshana Leon

Shareable plates include white bean hummus, flaming saganaki cheese and lamb kofta. The menu also features a variety of pizzas and pastas made in-house, including rock shrimp and sweet pea cavatelli, as well as entrées like branzino with lentils and a New York strip steak with gorgonzola fonduta. Dessert options include donuts with pistachio crème and espresso chocolate sauce, and a blueberry brown butter tart with lemon gelato. 

Cocktails are thoughtfully designed to complement the food and atmosphere, including a seasonal Bellini, the popular Bells and Whistles with vodka, red pepper and basil, and the Globetrotter with gin, mezcal, vermouth, kiwi and lime.

McQuaid was in high school when he started working with MacMillan at Sanctuary. The two formed a strong bond, working together on several projects. “I want to work with people I have fun with and want to grow with,” said MacMillan, who continues to serve as culinary advisor at Sanctuary. “Peter has the technique, mindset and ability to be an amazing leader in the kitchen.”

MacMillan likes to say that simplicity is perfection. “The menu at Cala is focused on quality and flavor with items that can be executed quickly,” he said. “We are evolving the menu and adding items for brunch and the hotel’s pool bar. This is an exciting concept for the market and something we can grow.” 

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Photo courtesy of Everardo Keeme

All in the Family

Spinato’s Pizzeria focuses on quality and customers

The Spinato family came to Arizona from Chicago in 1974 and opened the first Spinato’s Pizzeria in 1984. Today, Spinato’s has six locations and employs more than 300 people across the Valley.

Some things at Spinato’s have changed through the decades, but others remain the same. “We always source fresh, quality ingredients, and we take the extra step to scratch-make our items in-house,” said Anthony Spinato, president and CEO. “Our secret sauce has always remained the same recipe, as it is the staple of what we do, and that will never change.”

Customer focus is a top priority. “Spinato’s has always been a people-first business,” Spinato said. “We are dedicated to building an experience for each person that walks in the door, and this extends to our staff. If it wasn’t for the staff and guests, we wouldn’t be here today. We are excited to continue to support and grow with our community and pay it forward.”

Photo courtesy of Everardo Keeme

The Spinato family takes a hands-on approach to all aspects of the business. Anthony oversees operations with a focus on empowering staff and building culture. His wife, a graduate of the Arizona Culinary Institute, helped build some of the menu items and now oversees community outreach and brand marketing, including interior design and social media. Anthony’s sister, Nicole, is the office manager and leads employee engagement. Her husband runs Spinato’s catering business.

While the family patriarch, Ken, has moved away from day-to-day operations, he continues to play an important role. “My father now focuses on staff and guest feedback,” Spinato said. “He visits every store at least once a week to meet people and listen to what they have to say. He brings that feedback to our family headquarters to be used in future staff training. He has never taken for granted the soul of the business, which is the people.”

In addition to the delicious food, the service and experience keep loyal customers coming back. “The more we support and empower our staff, the more likely they are to pass on a great experience to every person that dines with us,” Spinato said. “We can make more than just pizza; we can make lasting memories and relationships.”

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Photo courtesy of Maggie Norris

Bark Bombs Offer the Ultimate Sugar Explosion

Local cooking instructor launches a line of sweet treats

Like many people, Maggie Norris changed her business and her life as a result of the pandemic. Norris owns Whisked Away Cooking School, where she teaches cooking classes in her home.

Photo courtesy of Life Created

“With the pandemic shutdown, I couldn’t bring students into my home,” Norris said. “The silver lining of COVID for me was spending more time with my family.”

As COVID restrictions lifted, Norris was enjoying the balance in her life and cut back to three cooking classes a week. She had a drive to continue to be creative and share her love of cooking.

In early 2022, Bark Bombs was born, inspired by Halloween bark made by Norris’s mother-in-law. Norris created some bark treats for her daughter’s school and launched the business in time for Valentine’s Day.

“I wanted to do something new, and working on Bark Bombs gave me the same fire and desire as when Whisked Away started in 2009,” Norris said. “I enjoy having a creative outlet during the day and spending time with my family in the evening.”

Bark Bombs are made with Ghirardelli white chocolate, Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, Oreos, pretzels, M&Ms and sprinkles. There is a peanut butter version with peanut butter chips, peanut butter M&Ms and Nutter Butter cookies. Norris also creates Bark Bombs for holidays and events.

“We’ve had great feedback so far,” Norris said. “People love chocolate but are looking for something unique. Bark Bombs are a very versatile product for gifts, holidays and events.”

Launching a product business was a new experience for Norris. “Bark Bombs is totally different than running a cooking school,” she said. “There was a definite learning curve with social media tools, packaging and production.”

To spread the word about her new product line, Norris promoted Bark Bombs on social media, sent emails to her Whisked Away database and partnered with Instagram influencers.

Norris is still learning and shares some advice with new business owners. “It is so exciting to start a new business, but it can be overwhelming, so I had to set boundaries,” she said. “I also learned that it’s OK to not be perfect at the start. Give yourself grace to let the business evolve.”

Norris is excited about the future of Bark Bombs and plans to launch new products for  summer. “I’m taking it day by day,” she said. “I see a lot of potential for growth, and I have so many ideas.”

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About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

From Frontdoors Magazine

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