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.
Having recently picked up a nod for 2009's Best New Neighborhood Restaurant from Best of Greater Phoenix, Floyd’s Kitchen and its owners, Mike and Brandon, maintain a tranquil, friendly, independently owned restaurant where locals can refuel with a menu of surf and turf, pasta, pizza, sandwiches, and hearty signature entrees. Raise your stomach curtain with a drum roll of inventive apps like the maple-bacon-wrapped shrimp ($9) before moving on to main events such as the Chilean sea bass in lemon-artichoke sauce ($22) or the comfort-food nirvana of the signature pot roast, which—like a fun uncle who falls asleep in his hot tub—has been slow-cooked overnight in beer ($12). Vegetarians, meanwhile, can abide by humanity's uneasy peace treaty with cows while still relishing grilled patties with the plantavore-friendly Caribbean veggie burger, which has been marinated in mango-teriyaki sauce and topped with a tropical island's worth of pineapple, onion, and tomato ($10).
At The Best Ever Subs & More, a Thanksgiving meal isn’t an annual feast. Instead, it’s a sandwich served daily, in the form of a french roll stuffed with oven-roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and crispy onions. Nestled inside Danny’s Gourmet Market, the shop’s entire array of subs—from the Thanksgiving variety to a chicken, brie, and apple sandwich—come filled with the market’s artisanal meats and cheeses, which also top personal pizzas toasted golden brown in a brick oven. The signature gourmet sauce anoints pizzas and sandwiches alike and is dubbed the “best sauce ever” for its carefully balanced blend of garlic and herbs, rather than because the food it touches turns into money. The shop also bakes signature butter cookies, and a portion of its proceeds benefits the Lost Angels Foundation of Hope.
The bride stood under the photographer’s lights, resplendent in her wedding gown, as her family looked on from a distance. As she and her photographer, M. Chen, prepared for the shoot, she was handed a package—a prewedding gift from her soon-to-be husband. When she lifted the lid, she immediately burst into tears. Inside laid a photo of a great dane puppy—the dog she’d always wanted, which her husband planned to give her on their wedding day. As she ran to hug her mother, Mr. Chen ran after, shooting image after image, capturing the exact moment she fell into her mother’s arms. These quick reflexes have been honed through his nearly 30 years as a sports photographer and professional fly swatter, and he draws on photojournalistic techniques to compose a traditional portrait or snap once-in-a-lifetime, candid moments.
Regardless of specific approaches, he consistently draws from the landscape style of Ansel Adams and the dramatic lighting techniques of Monte Zucker. His work as a photojournalist and private portrait photographer has earned him more than 300 publications in the glossy pages of New York Daily News, Popular Photography, ESPN Magazine, and Professional Photographers of America magazine. When not snapping on-location engagement shoots, family portraits, or boudoir sessions, he passes on his technique through traveling photography seminars, hands-on workshops, and by gently tapping the heads of his students. Though formerly designed only for professional-level photographers, these classes instill confidence and camera basics in beginners. As he frequently finds new class examples and takes feedback from his students, Mr. Chen frequently fine-tunes the curriculum after each seminar.
A 6.5-pound behemoth of a burrito can really only have one name: the Big Papi. At Papi Chulo's Mexican Grill & Cantina these giants of gastronomy, which were recently featured in Phoenix Magazine, are waiting to be conquered by challengers willing to dethrone current champion Stephanie Torres, a competitive eater who has appeared in the Nathan's Famous Women's Hot Dog Eating World Championship. On the regular menu, Papi Chulo's executive chef combines Mexican tradition with Sonoran familiarity to craft authentic Southwestern dishes with a down-home feel. The staff serves regular lunch specials, Mexican favorites such as chiles rellenos, and breakfast specialties including huevos rancheros and chorizo and eggs.
Inside the spacious dining room, imported Mexican furniture sits below exposed wooden beams bearing wrought-iron chandeliers ideal for illuminating a special meal or supporting the weight of a masked Zorro impersonator. Attended by a sunny wait staff, the bar slings specialty margaritas and happy-hour specials every day that patrons can enjoy indoors or on the outdoor patio in full view of Camelback Mountain. Papi Chulo's also hosts regular events including poker nights on Mondays and live comedy every Friday and Saturday night.
Fran Mancuso got her first job in the restaurant industry when her family opened an italian-ice shop in 1969. The 14-year-old Fran did her schoolwork between tables, but those shifts led her to a lifelong career. As the dessert parlor became a gourmet Italian restaurant, which in turn became a franchise of restaurants in Arizona and California, Fran moved up the ranks to become the director of operations for Mancuso Restaurants Inc. Bobby's serves the Old-World Italian cuisine that the family has honed for decades in a modern lounge setting that can play host to a lively night out or a romantic meal.
From tables in the two-floor lounge, patrons dig into their Italian-style dinners of natural pork, milk-fed veal, cage-free chickens, and fresh seafood shipped in daily. Crab-stuffed mushrooms whet appetites for housemade gnocchi with veal meatballs and pistachio-crusted lamb chops. The carefully designed interior blends old Hollywood and Las Vegas–style glamour, bathed in red, orange, and blue lights. Guests walk up a curving staircase to enjoy the second-story area surrounded by gauzy curtains parted to grant clear views of a wall covered with portraits of famous musicians named Bob. Live music fills the air nightly with live jazz, R & B, and blues from musicians who genuinely have the blues.