Shady Park

Whenever a sweet spring turns into scorching summer, residents of the Sonoran Desert always begin to appreciate just how precious shade can be. Local communities have decidedly mixed records in cultivating shade, sometimes leaving master plans unfulfilled for years and relying on engineered shade structures that may be artistic but also less effective than planting more trees. When a place offers genuine shade, then, it’s worth celebrating. Shady Park, a combination of a restaurant and a nightclub in Tempe, calls out its two abundantly shaded patios in its name.

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Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana

Long ago, the only place for pizza in Downtown Phoenix was a lonely Pizza Hut on First Street. The area was so desolate that the chain pizzeria reportedly wouldn’t even deliver to some addresses a few blocks away. That Pizza Hut is still present on First Street, but in recent years, the surrounding neighborhoods have become home to half a dozen high quality pizza restaurants of local origin. One of those, Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana, is situated directly across the street from its franchised counterpart. Continue reading “Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana”

La Piazza PHX

For the last few years, it seemed like light rail was inching closer to Glendale. Those hopes were dashed, at least for the time being, by a recent vote of the Glendale City Council. While the city’s financial struggles and unresolved issues of the track’s final destination may be keeping trains out of Glendale, it’s thankfully still possible to enjoy one of Downtown Glendale’s best restaurants in Downtown Phoenix. La Piazza PHX, an offshoot of Glendale’s La Piazza al Forno, is located just a block or two from multiple light rail stations in the city center. Continue reading “La Piazza PHX”

Forno 301

It’s become a common complaint that “high rises” and “condos” are ruining Roosevelt Row and nearby neighborhoods. In reality, most of the construction isn’t tall enough to be meet any widely accepted definition of “high rise,” and most of what is being built is apartments rather than condominiums. More importantly, while a few businesses have been displaced, many are finding new homes in the ground floor of new residential mid-rises. Forno 301 is one of those businesses, having recently relocated from west Roosevelt to the Muse apartments a half mile to the north. Continue reading “Forno 301”

Noodle Bar

Whether it’s technology like a smartphone or an entertainment franchise like Star Trek, there are times when the best fix is a reboot. Sometimes the decision to shut down and come back after changes occurs after years or decades of existence. In the case of Noodle Bar, the reboot came after less than a year of operation. After a shaky start as two separate fast-casual restaurants — one Japanese and Italian — in a small food court arrangement, a recent reboot has led to the creation of a single restaurant devoted to noodles from both nations in a full-service dining room. Continue reading “Noodle Bar”

Mancuso’s

The Collier Center might be considered the middle child of big mixed use projects in Downtown Phoenix. It came along just over a decade after the Arizona Center, and about the same length of time before CityScape. As with human middle children, the development is sometimes overlooked and its best attributes hidden. The Collier Center’s prime restaurant space is located off the street on the second floor. If that architectural decision seems a mistake, it’s encouraging the obscure location is now occupied by Mancuso’s, a restaurant with prior experience at another hidden site. Continue reading “Mancuso’s”

Nook Kitchen

For one historic building in Downtown Phoenix, it has taken over a decade to arrive at happy ending. The Professional Building, formerly the headquarters of Valley National Bank and home to several floors of medical offices, languished for years in a state of disrepair without tenants or a clear future. After a false start derailed by the collapse of Mortgages Ltd., the 12-story Art Deco tower has finally been reborn as a Hilton Garden Inn hotel, and its ground-floor restaurant on the corner of Monroe and Central Avenue is known as Nook Kitchen, or just Nook for short. Continue reading “Nook Kitchen”

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