Michael Merendino grew up hearing stories about his family history. Sitting in his father's pizzeria, he learned how the Merendinos left Sicily for Long Island in the 1900s, and about the bits of Old World culture that they brought along with them. One such touchstone was the rustica: a small, pizza-like creation traditionally made with unused pieces of bread dough. Michael brought the rustica with him when he moved from the East Coast to the East Valley, making it the star of his menus at Crust Restaurants.
Crust's hand-stretched rusticas arrive topped with everything from marinated tomatoes and fresh mozzarella to arugula and prosciutto, and are sized for individual diners. To help feed larger groups, the chefs also bake 20-inch, thin-crust pies as well as square pizzas ideal for diners on a strict Euclidean diet. Hearty entr?es such as homemade meatball parmigiana, chicken marsala, and shrimp scampi, round out the menu of comforting Italian-American favorites.
Trailhead Bike Shop and Cafe fulfils every gearhead's two basic needs: offering the sale and repair of all things bike-related, and calories. The shop's group of certified bike technicians keeps frames of all makes and models in bikini-ready shape and top form with detailed repair services, and can help customers find their steely soulmate from their selection of road and mountain bikes. On the other side of the shop, a café with blazing WiFi keeps riders as road ready as their two-wheelers, serving up a savory selection of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, smoothies, coffee drinks, and soup. After nourishing both selves and steeds, riders can hit the trails of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, which begin just outside the shop.
Once a week at Urban Beans, the sounds of a jazz band fill the room. As they listen, customers perch on mismatched chairs that give the space the kind of quirky charm that's usually attributed to a baby wearing a crossing-guard uniform. A look around the room yields visions of guests sipping coffee and munching on fresh pastries as they chatter or work, or ordering beer or wine to go with sandwiches and salads.