Local Fave: Postino Wine Café – Central
District: North Central
Here’s The Deal: While many of us are familiar with Postino’s Monday and Tuesday deal, did you know about the great deals you can get for lunch? Every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. they offer $5 glasses of wine (anything by the glass) and any pitcher of beer for $5! Also, a majority of the menu is under $10 for a nice selection of sandwiches, salads, and combinations, including a half Panini with a side salad, or “soup of the moment” (today’s was chicken and wild rice).
Have a Seat: Like many of the Upward Projects locations and concepts, you can sit at a great bar. This one has a double-sided seating section for guests to sit across from each other and engage in conversation. There is a nice window area for people watching along Central Ave and a beautiful covered patio with heaters and fireplaces that will keep you shaded but warm. Inside is bistro style area, with brick walls and racks of retail wines you can buy and take home.
The Concept: Urban Projects is known for taking historic Phoenix buildings and turning them into new, updated neighborhood hangouts. This Postino’s location was originally home the Manhattan style Katz’s Deli. Urban Projects took over in 2009, keeping as much to the original building design as they could. The rafters and overall layout will be familiar to the old timers while appealing to newer Phoenicians with the swanky, graphic décor, as is evident when you look around at the eclectic mix of people gathered for a busy lunch rush on a Wednesday afternoon.
The Eats: The bruschetta will always be a successful staple but other stars on the menu include the Autostrada Panini served with a side of housemade organic chips. The chips are crunchy and light, which is a great complement to the hefty sandwich on the plate. Your choice of ciabatta or focaccia bread surrounds a pile of sopressatta, Italian ham, capicola, mortadella, provolone, arugula and tomatoes with spicy pepper relish. This sandwich is nicely balanced with acid, pepper, and quality proteins. It has a great zing from the ingredients that don’t leave you feeling heavy after eating one. Another notable is the Italian picnic salad that has fresh, California roasted beets, goat cheese, bacon and walnuts, and adds some delightful texture with an array of crispy root veggies (beets, tarot chips, and sweet potatoes). The herb vinaigrette is slightly sweet but adds depth with a variety of fresh herbs.
The Staff: Eager to serve their guests, the staff seems to be able to handle volume with smiles and good knowledge of the menu. Ben Grissom, server, can educate diners on “Brent’s Pick,” a wine selection by resident wine merchant Brent Karlicek, which is featured on the menu and as wall décor with accompanying bottles of wine. The staff also looks great in their uniform of the day (usually including a witty, Postino-centric t-Shirt) and they have great personalities to match.
Report: Postino’s will always be a go-to place for a good deal and quality food and beverage. Labeled a wine café, it lives up to the name with great wine selection and a food menu that doesn’t feel overwhelming. Come here to be comfortable in your surroundings, listen to some good music, laugh and enjoy your wine while being served by some of Phoenix’s best. The owners should be proud to know that they have some of the best waitstaff you can find in the valley, no matter what location you might visit.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
One Hundred Community Sponsors Contributed to Holiday Decoration Fund
Earlier this fall, community members representing the greater downtown Phoenix community, including the City of Phoenix, METRO Light Rail, Phoenix Community Alliance, neighborhood organizations and local business owners, created the Holiday Decoration Fund, and put out a call for contributions to help bring seasonal sparkle back to our city’s grandest boulevard.
Last year was the first time since light rail construction began that the holiday streetlight decorations on Central Avenue were installed. By the end of that season, however, it was clear that the decorations were too deteriorated to reuse and a solution needed to be found.
In just a few short weeks, the organizers of the Holiday Decoration Fund have gathered enough community-wide support to decorate 219 streetlights, 184 of those sponsored by 100 financial sponsors, with a few salvaged decorations from last year. Streetlights on Central Avenue, ranging from North Central to South Central, will be decorated with candy canes and poinsettias with LED lights adding some sparkle.
“This says so much about what the community can do when it comes together,” said City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “Holiday decorations are an important aspect of vibrant community. Thanks to Phoenix Community Alliance for their leadership, and to all the participants who are brightening Central Avenue.”
“South Mountain area residents and businesses really get in the spirit of the holidays, with many events and celebrations for families to enjoy,” said Councilman Michael Nowakowski. “The opportunity to have Central Avenue – the main route connecting the central city and our downtown to the South Mountain area – decked out in holiday lights would really add that extra layer of excitement for families and children. Let’s turn Central Avenue into a holiday wonderland!”
“I am thrilled to see holiday decorations come back to Central Avenue. These decorations foster a sense of community among Phoenix residents, and help build a festive holiday spirit for downtown shoppers, diners and visitors,” said Councilman Tom Simplot. “I applaud the leadership of Phoenix Community Alliance and the Midtown Museum District Neighborhood Association in making this happen.”
“Holiday decorations along Central Avenue are one of our greatest community traditions,” said Mo Stein, Chairman of Phoenix Community Alliance’s Board of Directors. “Growing up in Phoenix, this was always a family activity. What better way to continue to bring families together and celebrate the Heart of our City, with new restaurants, shops, housing and light rail happening daily. We thank everyone who is helping this great tradition.”
“The Downtown Phoenix Partnership is very excited about the prospect of holiday lights along the entire length of Central Ave through the central city. This is our signature street and it deserves to be the showcase of our holiday festivities,” said David Roderique, President and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Partnership.
Central Avenue will twinkle with spirit from Thanksgiving through the MLK Holiday. ‘Tis the season to bring your family and friends to Central Avenue, ride the light rail and take in the beauty of the season.
The following is the list of 100 participating sponsors of Holiday Decoration Fund:
A Tropical Concert
Aragon Real Estate Group
Arizona Central Credit Union
Arizona State University
Artisan Lofts on Central
Barron Collier Companies
Best Buy Insurance
BMO Harris Bank
Brophy College Preparatory
Central Park Square
Central United Methodist Church
Chateaux on Central
City of Phoenix Industrial Development Authority
Dick’s Ace Auto Repair
DOXA Central, LLC
DWL Architects & Planners
Evergreen Commercial Realty LLC
First American Title Company
FEZ Restaurant & Bar
Friendly House/Unity Way Fire Star
Gaedeke Group LLC
Habitat Metro LLC
Hon. Ruben Gallegos and Kate Gallegos
Hon. Tom Simplot
Goodwill of Arizona
Grandview Neighborhood Association
H-M Investments LLC
Hazel and Violet Ink
The Heard Museum
H-M Investments LLC
Hula’s Modern Tiki
Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona
Investors Warranty of America/Jones Lang LaSalle/Security Title Plaza
Irish Cultural Center
JP Morgan Chase
Just You Transportation
La Canasta Restaurant
La Bodega Furniture
Laura Crosby and Cat Sweetsir, 2800 Tower
Lawrence and Geyser, Geyser Management LLC
LBA Realty Fund II – Company V, LLC
L.D. Schneider & Associates
Marcos de Niza Tenant Council
Maricopa Integrated Health Systems
McCormack Baron Salazar
McCarthy Cook & Co. / Viad Corporate Center
Metro Realty LLC
Midtown Museum District
Native American Connections at Devine Legacy
Native American Connections/Phoenix Indian Center/People of Color Network
One Camelback Office Building
One Thomas Building
Parallel Capital Partners/City Square
Park Central Mall
Pastor Consulting, Inc.
Pavilions Apartments/Gray Development
Phoenix Art Museum
Phoenix Financial Center/Robert Knight and Associates
Phoenix Revitalization Corporation
Pierson Place Historic District/Charley Jones
Pinnacle Property Management
Place by the Park LLC
Carol A. Poore, Ph.D.
RAZA Development Fund
Red Development LLC
Regency House Condominiums
St. Francis Xavier Catholic Parish
Security Title Plaza
Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS
Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar
Tapestry on Central Condominium Association
The Comisar Collection/TV Museum Phoenix
The Foundry Hotel
The Great American Tower Office Building
The Mueller Family
The One Thomas Building
The Phoenix Plaza Association
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Urban Affair LLC
Valle Del Sol
Westward Ho Associates, L.P.
Special Thanks to: Ali Avey – Premiere Volunteer; Joseph Benesh – Phoenix Center for the Arts; Margaret Deitrich – Midtown Museum District; Susan Engstrom – The Great American Tower; Steve Banta and Hillary Foose – Valley Metro; Luz Enriquez and Councilman Nowakowski – City of Phoenix; Don Keuth and Jo Marie McDonald – Phoenix Community Alliance; Jim McPherson; Catrina Kahler – Urban Affair; Dave Roderique and Terry Madezska – Downtown Phoenix Partnership; Eva Olivas – Phoenix Revitalization Corporation; Kurt Schneider – LD Schneider & Associates; Olga Soto; Victor Vidales – REMAX Real Estate; All of the team at WESCO – Mark Forman, Geoffrey Kay, Michael Knoblock, and Christmas Light Decorators Doug Topham and Aaron Farrelly.
About Phoenix Community Alliance:
Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation and a collaboration of over 250 major business corporations allied with government, education, research, health & science, as well as arts & cultural organizations. The organization, formed in 1983, is the major, private sector catalyst for the urban renaissance in Downtown Phoenix and the Central City. For more, visit PhoenixCommunityAlliance.com.
Want to go where the locals go? Read DPJ’s new E&D Beat and visit some favorite Eats & Drinks destinations.
(New) Local Fave: Federal Pizza
District: North Central
Owner: Lauren and Wyatt Bailey and Craig and Kris DeMarco
Opened: October 2012
The Concept: Being the newest member and neighbor to the Postino Central and Windsor family, Federal Pizza has a reputation to stand up to. Locals are used to good, local food at affordable prices in unpretentious spaces. The building is a 1970’s First Federal Savings & Loan Bank (hence the name) and the owners were firm on keeping as much original history in the concept as possible. The brass piping, wood beams, and color scheme is true to turn of the century design. The space is eye catching with bright colors against neutral finishes with something interesting in every nook to look at. Bold chandeliers, a colorful mural, and 60’s inspired salt shakers are some notables.
The playlist hosts bands like Ratatat, Beck, and Run D.M.C. then jumps to an 80’s hairband for a toe tapping, eclectic mix. The menu font looks strikingly similar to that found on paper money and the bar stools, chairs, and light fixtures are a modern twist on 60’s and 70’s swag.
The original bank vault was kept above ground with an intricate security system under the building to keep robbers from pinching the cash. During renovation, the owners were sensitive to working around this in order to preserve as much of the building as possible. After the big purchase, they let the building sit until the concept birthed itself.
“Nearby Aiello’s closed and the owners wanted that neighborhood pizza place everyone could go to while challenging themselves to separate from their other concepts,” explains James Anderson, bartender with the company for two years.
FUN FACT: Owner Lauren Bailey had the genius idea of using Postino wine crates to create a beautiful, functioning ceiling that adds a piece of their own history to the restaurant.
Have a Seat: Big, comfy corner booths and tables face the breathtaking open kitchen. A long bar sits many and a small area just before the patio will envelope you in psychedelic pattern coming from the wall adorned mural. Sit at the counter and watch the action around the pizza oven, and get your mouth watering.
The Patio: A true urbanite can appreciate a street side patio, especially as the Phoenix weather cools down. Easy on the eyes during the day and metropolitan-romantic at night, this patio is a retreat for mingling and people watching while breaking bread. The staff keeps it clean and comfortable. For the chillier weather there are plenty of heaters. The City recently added a bike lane on Central Avenue to reduce traffic and street noise, and they’re also working on adding a light at the intersection of Colter and Central.
The Eats: Federal Pizza presents traditional pizza joint offerings with some specialties that will have your taste buds singing. The corn coins are a fun appetizer that are seasoned to perfection with fennel, herbs, melted pecorino and dusted with paprika. The pizzas are exciting with interesting combinations like Brussels sprouts, crispy pancetta, manchego and a zing of lemon zest. The crust has a perfect crisp but is soft and doughy on the inside. Ask anyone who works there what to order and a unanimous “porchetta sandwich” is the response. A duo of pork loin and belly are accompanied by caramelized onions that are sweet against the peppery arugula. With so many lip smacking options, Federal will have you locked in as regular before you know it.
The Drinks: An impressive beer selection of foreign, domestics, and locals are available in a variety of sizes. Chubs (32 oz) and growlers (64 oz) are available for a steal and they take it further by offering half off any other beer and wine to go. There is something special on their wine list: house made wine coolers. An old school novelty made new with high end cava and infused, natural flavors like strawberry rhubarb and blackberry rosemary.
What They Say: A proud father-in-law, Dennis Bailey, couldn’t be more excited for the new concept. He was eager to show off every detail of the space. An employee of the company, John Nemeth says, “It’s about good people having a place to go with good food and interaction. Everything in here involves you so you gain an experience rather than just giving an order and eating. We wanted this place to be welcoming, exciting, and something different. It’s part of why I love working at this location.”
Report: Overall a praiseworthy move by Bailey and DeMarco. The food is outstanding and affordable; service is knowledgeable and professional; the environment is stimulating while relaxing. The neighborhood was begging for the perfect pizza place, and now they’ve got it.
For those who live here, the “secret” of Phoenix being a great food town is no secret at all. Over the last twenty years there’s been a steady increase in local eateries that can match and surpass anything found in better-known places, such as New York or San Francisco. And while Phoenix may not be the first city that springs to mind for great food to outsiders, the cat is being let out of the bag nationally through CityEats, a unique new online reservation service and its affiliation with the Food Network.
CityEats is a one-stop shop for discovering great food in a growing number of cities across the country. The site is filled with mouth-watering photos, menus, and reviews, which link up to an easy-to-use reservation system that’s flexible for diners and restaurant owners alike. Phoenix is their first foray into the west and Phoenix City Grille was the first local restaurant to sign on. But, why Phoenix? We don’t have a strong tradition of making reservations, save for holiday meals and special occasions. So, why here? Why now?
For Narisa Wild, VP of Product & Operations for CityEats, the reasons are clear. They are providing a platform to let everyone, not just Phoenicians, know about the truly remarkable restaurants in our great city. “We’re very excited about Phoenix,” said Wild. “The food here is outstanding and we’re eager to help bring more national recognition of Phoenix as a great food city.” In addition, the Food Network has a huge viewing audience in Phoenix, which created a perfect sweet spot for expansion.
Sheldon Knapp, who co-owns the Phoenix City Grille with his wife, Nina, was excited to give me the scoop from his perspective. Phoenix City Grille has been a wildly successful neighborhood bar and restaurant in the Madison neighborhood of central Phoenix for fifteen years. More than 50% of their patrons are familiar faces and they like to have a plenty of tables for walk-ins. They are open for lunch and dinner and offer a broad range of choices, from small plates, salads, and sandwiches to full dinners featuring roasted chicken, fish and meats.
The Knapps were drawn to working with CityEats because of their affiliation with the popular and well-respected Food Network; their commitment to helping people discover lesser known food cities and restaurants; the flexibility of their reservation system, which allows them to decide how many tables to make available for reservation at any given time; and the CityEats’ promise to focus their site on “only really good restaurants.”
“Their affiliation with the Food Network brings great credibility and reach to what they’re doing and their promotional tie-ins are to things that matter,” said Sheldon Knapp, citing their newest tie-in with the Red Cross that has CityEats making donations to Sandy survivors with every reservation taken.
According to both Knapp and CityEats, people who use online reservations tend to be younger; they want to show up knowing that they have a seat. They will go straight from an online review site to making the reservation using their smart phones. Older people are often not as confident that the online reservation is “real” and are still more comfortable calling. The CityEats system is flexible and accommodating to both kinds of customers.
“The biggest immediate advantage for me,” said Knapp, “is that I can check in any time from my phone and see what’s happening with the reservations at my restaurant. I can predetermine how many tables to make available, how many to leave for walk-ins, and adjust as needed.”
Additionally, CityEats is developing an app that soon will let diners use their smart phones to put themselves on waiting lists at restaurants that want to keep their focus on walk-ins. The overall goal is to make discovering great restaurants easy, and to provide every customer with the kind of experience that makes dining out fun again. “We want to celebrate the joy of food, the passion of eating with others,” said Narisa Wild, VP of Product & Operations for CityEats. “We’re all about the discovery of new eating experiences. We want to push people out of their comfort zones and expand their awareness of great restaurants they might be over-looking,”
Phoenix is the fifth city to be added to the CityEats network. When they get to 14 cities they will go to the next level of integration with the Food Network, including more integration on their website, and incorporating CityEats listed chefs into their promotions.
The CityEats staff only wants restaurants on their site that they personally feel are “fantastic,” so they spend a lot of time on the ground eating in every new city they bring on board. “We love Phoenix,” said Wild, and Sheldon Knapp can attest to the time they’ve spent getting to know his restaurant. “They’ve visited on several occasions and gone out of their way to get to know us.”
As our choice of great restaurants continues to grow, we want to know, is Phoenix a city where people will reserve their seats at the best tables in town?
We want to know what you think. And CityEats is interested too. Fill out the survey and you might win a gift card to a restaurant already participating in the CityEats reservation program.
Community members representing Downtown Phoenix and beyond (including DPJ) have been working on a plan to make Central Avenue sparkle and shine during the upcoming holiday season.
It’s a big idea worthy of this great city – and it’s going to take a community-wide effort to make it happen.
Think of it: up to 10 miles of our city’s grand boulevard festooned with decorations!
A Holiday Decoration Fund has been established, with donations needed by October 25 to get the decorations up by Thanksgiving.
There are hundreds of light poles that can be decorated, so the more donations the more festive Central Avenue will be!
Read the following invitation to participate and let’s all come together and contribute to the spirit of Phoenix and the holiday season.
Dear Phoenix Community:
Please help us bring the spirit of the Holiday Season back to Central Avenue from Camelback to Dobbins!
Last year was the first year since light rail construction began that our Central Avenue street lights had holiday decorations. By the end of the Holiday Season (Thanksgiving – MLK Holiday) the decorations had deteriorated and are no longer usable.
A number of property owners and managers of buildings along the Central corridor are eager to help bring decorations back to the street.
We hope you will be too!
The cost to purchase or refurbish – and install, store, maintain, and remove the decorations, as well as purchase new hardware to support them – is excessive.
The most affordable option for the short and long term is to lease new decorations. Many communities across the country are tending toward this direction.
We have worked with all the vendors involved and have arrived at a reduced rate of $210 per street light. This includes everything: the decoration and banner (examples pictured right), installation, removal, the purchase of new hardware required to support it all and tax.
The City of Phoenix and Valley Metro Rail are assisting us and support this effort. Also, some property owners want to help decorate streets and areas along and adjacent to the light rail.
We do not have much time. Please join us!
The Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) has agreed to be the facilitator for the Phoenix Holiday Decoration fund.
Payments must be processed by October 25.
Download the contribution form from PhoenixCommunityAlliance.com.
Then use your credit card to donate online.
Or make checks payable and mail to:
Phoenix Community Alliance
234 North Central Avenue
Suite M-1100, Floor 1A
Phoenix AZ 85004
(ANY level of contribution is appreciated! PCA is a 501 (c)3 organization and your contributions are tax deductible.)
Please do not hesitate to contact PCA at 602-254-7477 ext. 22 with any questions you may have.
Thank you! And here’s to a Happy Holiday season!
JOSEPH BENESH, Director, Phoenix Center for the Arts
KENNY BARRETT & CINDY DACH, Roosevelt Row
DAN CARROLL, Chairman, Midtown Museum District
CATRINA KAHLER, Publisher, Downtown Phoenix Journal
DON KEUTH, President, Phoenix Community Alliance
EVA OLIVAS, President, Phoenix Revitalization Corporation
DAVE RODERIQUE, President & CEO, Downtown Phoenix Partnership
VICTOR VIDALES, Business Owner, REMAX, South Mountain Real Estate
GEORGE YOUNG, South Mountain Village Resident