From thin crust and Sicilian pizzas to craft drafts and vodka on tap, these three Italian happy hours dish up a slice of the good life.
photos by Blake Bonillas
3623 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix
It’s easy to tuck into happy hour at this galley-style 50-seat trattoria inside Arcadia’s Gaslight Square. Founded by restaurateurs Frank Vairo and Tagan Dering, formerly of Amaro Pizzeria & Vino Lounge, Nook charms locals with brick walls, comfortable half-round booths and a showpiece wood-fired oven. Ciao down on fig, braised pork butt or short rib bruschetta ($5-7 each) paired with $5 glasses of pinot or Concannon cabernet sauvignon. Anchor Steam ($3) and Dogfish Head 90 Minute ($4) are among the fine suds on draft, providing the perfect complement to heartier appetizers like gravy-soaked poutine and arancini (Italian rice balls, $5 each). Beer, wine and vodka on tap are half-price at happy hour, but diners can temper their overindulgence with a healthful salad like the chicken chop with avocado, roasted corn and hemp hearts ($6). 3-6 p.m. daily.
Pesto’s Modern Italian Kitchen
1960 W. Ray Rd., Chandler
Age is just a number when it comes to romance, but Pesto’s founders pride themselves on being the oldest kids on the block. The 20-year neighborhood veteran was recently renovated with candlelit tables and a gorgeous granite-topped bar, upping the romance factor for a younger crowd. Make it a cheap date night with $5 bacon-wrapped dates, pasta bowls and personal pizzas – the last a canvas for owners Frank and Debra Taurisano’s secret sauce. Toast to sunny days with $5 glasses of house vino complementing affordable melon and prosciutto salad ($5) and aged cheeses ($8), or spring an extra buck for specialty chardonnay and merlot. Other libation offerings include $6 appletinis and cosmos, $4 Bud Light or Michelob Ultra on tap and house bubbly ($6). $5 well drinks. Noon-6 p.m. daily.
20329 N. 59th Ave., Glendale
The casual vibe and herbaceous tomato perfume of this family-owned gem draw crowds, but it’s the bargain-basement specials that keep ‘em coming back. Happy hour deals are some of the cheapest around, with 50-cent buffalo wings and $1.25 domestic drafts leading the pack. Handwritten chalkboard specials hover above stocky wooden tables, the Italian flag tiles and ordering counter, which is reminiscent of a classic East Coast pizza joint. Sliders, from chicken parmesan to roast beef with horseradish sauce, cost just $1.49 each, leaving plenty of wallet room for a few domestic bottles or import drafts ($2.50 each). Diners aren’t forced to pig out on whole pizzas, either. Slices cost a mere $1.25 during happy hour, with fried fare like mozzarella sticks and breaded mushrooms to fill up hungry tummies ($4.95 each). 2-5 p.m. daily.