Via Della

There’s a longstanding relationship between pizza and brick. Not only do many pizzerias use brick ovens, but many pizzerias feature brick walls as part of their design. Via Della, which proudly proclaims its identity as a “slice shop,” combines both elements with a modern Pavesi brick oven inside a vintage brick building. It stands in contrast to the abundance of wood-fired pizza served only by the whole pie in the heart of Phoenix. It’s one of a handful of new places downtown with an emphasis on single slices for quick meals, as well as whole pies to go.

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IL Bosco

There’s an overused and sometimes misunderstood metaphor about not being able to see the forest for the trees. Seinfeld character Elaine Benes probably summarized the unspoken reaction of many people when she said “Yeah, I don’t know what that means.” On Fifth Street in the Evans-Churchill neighborhood just north of downtown Phoenix, there are a few trees lining the sidewalks, and now there’s IL Bosco, Italian for the forest, a new pizzeria that takes its name from both the original owner’s surname and the use of a wood-burning oven to produce its pies.

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Pa’La

It took 28 years, but in 2021, the Phoenix Suns made it to the National Basketball Association finals for the second time. When the Suns did this the first time in 1993, they had just enjoyed their first season in their then-new arena. The surrounding blocks of downtown were still pretty bleak, however. A lot has changed in nearly three decades, and the city’s core now has even more restaurants than it did before the pandemic. Among many new arrivals is Pa’La, an upgraded version of a chef-driven restaurant with an original location on 24th Street.

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Hot Daisy Pizza

Besides being rich in carbohydrates, cake and pizza have something else in common: They both typically need to be sliced to be enjoyed. On Roosevelt Row at the north end of downtown Phoenix, Tammie Coe has been baking and slicing for over a decade-and-a-half. What has changed, though, is the transformation of the space from retail bakery to pizza slice shop. With the closure of the old Tammie Coe cake shop in the Artisan Village development, there followed a transformation of the storefront into Hot Daisy Pizza, a casual place for slices on the go.

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Walter Station

In both 2020 and 2021, the annual Burning Man event in Nevada has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The yearly gathering will no doubt eventually return, but even without a densely packed temporary city arising over Labor Day weekend, Burning Man’s cultural impact can be felt in small and subtle ways. On Washington Street on the east side of Phoenix, Walter Station serves beer brewed on site with matching food and a loose connection to Burning Man, firefighting, and nearby Sky Harbor Airport, all in an unlikely combination that somehow works.

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Pino’s Pizza al Centro

In Italian, “pino” can be a diminutive for a longer name like Giuseppe, and “centro” can often mean downtown or the center of a city. Since every neighborhood can benefit from good pizza, why not have a place for it near the heart of Phoenix’s Midtown business district? With a location just a block west of the Thomas/Central light rail station, Pino’s Pizza al Centro seems a fitting name for a small pizzeria and Italian-American restaurant, especially when someone actually called Pino has been the proprietor for over two decades of continuous operation.

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Luana’s Coffee and Beer

There’s a whole genre of children’s books that encourage readers to look for small details within a much larger picture, often reiterated over many pages dealing with the same theme. There’s one from author and illustrator Walter Wick that shows details of treasure in a sunken ship only to zoom out to show that the entire tableau is actually a ship in a bottle. At the south end of Midtown in Phoenix, Luana’s Coffee feels sort of like that scene. With a vaguely tropical look, a bit of a pirate theme, and a vibe of cluttered eclecticism, Launa’s is itself a ship in a bottle.

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Little O’s

Over the past decade, the intersection of McDowell Road and Seventh Avenue has become a busy cluster of restaurants. Many of the arrivals have been national or regional chains, leading one local writer to lament a “fast food dump” at the corner, and there have been the inevitable complaints about insufficient parking. It’s therefore refreshing, both figuratively and literally, to see locally owned Little O’s create a place that invites customers to arrive via bicycle if so inclined, quench their thirst with a pint or pitcher of craft beer, and linger for a while.

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MATCH Market & Bar

2020 has been a terrible year for the restaurant industry, and while everyone has suffered, some of the biggest impact has been felt at hotel restaurants. With travel a fraction of what it was before, many properties have shuttered entirely while others have had to reduce operations. For hotel restaurants to survive, they’ve had to rethink their operations and adapt. In the case of the artsy FOUND:RE hotel at the north end of downtown Phoenix, its former full-service restaurant, MATCH, has reopened as a combination of a casual restaurant, a gourmet shop, and a bar.

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Slices on Mill

At first glance, Slices on Mill seems like a typical New York pizza place. It’s location three blocks south of the Mill Avenue / Third Street light rail station is cramped and casual. There are a few high-top tables and two counters, most of them adorned with shaker jars of crushed red pepper. A small patio provides additional dining space. The front counter usually has multiple types of pizza on display. In ordinary times when nearby Arizona State University is at its full population, the restaurant caters to the bar crowd by maintaining late hours until 3 AM on weekends.

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Myke’s Pizza

As restaurants struggle to remain in operation while complying with public health directives, many have found themselves expanding into the sidewalk and even the street with enlarged outdoor dining areas. Downtown Mesa has embraced this trend, allowing places to use more exterior space than ever before, one adaptation to the virus that might be worth making permanent. As so many restaurants move outside, there’s one, Myke’s Pizza, that was actually born outdoors on Main Street before migrating to a home inside another business, Cider Corps.

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Ziggy’s Magic Pizza Shop

Somewhat unexpectedly, downtown Phoenix has become a hub for traditional Neapolitan pizza, pies made with great attention to detail; fresh, local ingredients; and adherence to Italian tradition. Within a single square mile, Bianco, Pomo, and Cibo all fill that niche by serving authentic pizza in a full-service environment. What downtown Phoenix doesn’t have nearly as much of, though, is good pizza served by the slice in a more casual, counter service environment. That’s finally beginning to change with the arrival of Ziggy’s Magic Pizza Shop. Continue reading “Ziggy’s Magic Pizza Shop”

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