There's nothing humble about Humble Pie's pizza crust: Pulled from wood-fired ovens with a light, bubbly texture that crisps at lightly charred edges, it cracks to release a subtle aroma of smoke and yeast. For owner Tom Kaufman, the recipe demanded two months of tinkering and one month of building an underground vault to keep it from prying eyes. Customers tend to think the time was worth it as they bite into delicate slices topped with careful combinations of veggies, meats and cheeses, often locally sourced.
The potato-and-roasted-garlic pizza, for example, happily marries the fragrances of gorgonzola and rosemary. Retaining a botanical touch even on a meat-lover's pie, the Schreiners Sicilian Sausage sprinkles homemade mozzarella with "sprigs of roasted fennel [that] add another aromatic dimension," according to Phoenix New Times.
While the pizza may push some of the other menu items out of the limelight, fresh salads, grilled sandwiches, and traditional and twisted pastas earnestly pine for appetites' affections. The Our Way" Mac & Cheese adds aged white cheddar, italian bacon, and bread crumbs, distinguishing itself from its boxed brethren while forming an equally fun medium for kids' art projects, while wine, beer, and seasonal cocktails pair well with plates and pies alike.
While plenty of restaurants boast about using imported ingredients, fewer can say the same about their oven. Weighing in at 600 pounds, Pomo Pizzeria’s Neapolitan brick oven came straight from Naples, where it was hand-made using Santa Maria and Sorrento bricks and even volcanic sand from Vesuvius. To only thing in the kitchen working harder than the oven to ensure each pie's authenticity is master Neapolitan pizza chef Matteo Schiavone. To make each crust, he adheres strictly to the required ingredients for real Neapolitan pizza: imported only organic wheat flour from Naples, natural yeast, Mediterranean sea-salt, and spring water. Drawing upon three decades of experience, Chef Schiavone creates his dough by hand, allowing it to rise for a minimum of 24 hours, before layering it with fresh ingredients like San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh bufala mozzarella, and sliding it into the wood-burning oven. The oven itself locks in the perfect flavor, aroma, and just the right amount of moisture, creating the soft crust that is the trademark of Neapolitan pizza. Guests can choose from nearly 20 classic pies topped with ingredients such as Piccante Italian salame, roasted red bell peppers, or fresh basil, or opt for sauce-less "white" pizzas, which aren't available after Labor Day. The pizzas are so authentic that Pomo has been certified by the APN and VPN—two organizations that outline rules (from the ingredients to the preparation) that a pizza must follow to be considered true Neapolitan-style.
4th Floor Grille & Sports Bar serves lunch and dinner amid the warmly lit luxury of Chaparral Suites. Chefs fill the menu with burgers, pizzas, and southwestern specialties such as tacos and spicy sandwiches. For dessert, an in-house pastry chef invites diners to indulge in flourless chocolate peanut butter cake and frozen margarita pie. In the adjacent sports bar, watch the human body at its mightiest, and the ball at its most humiliated, as 10 HDTVs broadcast football, baseball, basketball, and hockey packages.
The warmth of a loving family permeates the atmosphere of Cove Trattoria, as parents Vinny and Barbara Monica sustain their celebrated eatery with the help of their children, Heather and Daryl. The kitchen's brick ovens exude a similar warmth as they heat homemade dough into signature 13-inch pizzas topped with blends of shrimp and tomato vodka cream sauce or sweet italian sausage matched with caramelized onions. Lunch visitors dig into easily shared salads featuring grilled salmon or calamari or fill up on warmly pressed panini and hearty sandwiches built with traditional Italian deli meats and fluffy focaccia bread using the blueprints for Marco Polo's sturdiest ship. Dainty bites of seafood antipasti tickle the tongues of evening diners before they curl forks around the cavatelli, linguine, and ricotta-filled shells that populate pasta selections. As entrees of slow-cooked halibut, filet mignon, and pork chops please palates and massage uvulas, glasses of red and white wine rinse mouths for more bites and bubbling postdinner conversation.
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.
Andiamo Bistro offers patrons a menu of various regional, homemade edibles from the country that invented pasta tots. Slurp a soup of stracciatella ($6) to prepare for escargot de bourgogne ($14), flavored with garlic, thyme, butter, brandy, and moxie. A dish of chicken marsala ($18) supported by mushrooms and shallots stretches stomachs without leaving marks, and various choices of pasta—such as the penne puttanesca, which divvies out a healthy heap of tomatoes, anchovies, olives, and capers ($15)—enliven culinary fantasies with sparks of real-life spice and satisfaction.