Boss Pizza Bar
This is a self-identified Chicago-style pizza joint, but the atmosphere is pure Arizona. It’s housed in a rambling, sun-filled building in Old Town, with expansive patio space that no one in their right mind would use in August, but will undoubtedly be amazing come November. Aside from some appetizer, salad and dessert options, the menu has two broad categories: “Pizza” and “Not Pizza.” In the spirit of the name, I ordered the Pizza – a standard, perfectly balanced thin-crust pepperoni ($12 and up), and a NY Honey ($15 and up) topped with soppressata and “Mike’s Hot Honey,” a house creation which makes the sauce both sweet and hot, like any self-respecting New York honey. The dessert menu offers s’mores pizza ($10).
Must try: Even meat lovers can enjoy the Meat Haters ($14 and up), topped with spinach, green peppers, mozzarella and meaty mushrooms.
7125 E. Second St., Scottsdale, 480-777-2677, bosspizzabar.com
Despite Rudyard Kipling’s assurance that never the twain shall meet between East and West, restaurants continue to try to prove him wrong. One such recent experiment, which opened in Crossroads Towne Center in May, alliteratively offers “Bowls. Bao. Boba.” But Western influences are boldly applied to these Asian forms, perhaps most cheekily in the Korean mac and cheese ($9), with kimchi and pork belly punching up the kid-lunch classic. Pork belly is also tucked inside the bun of the bao mi ($9), along with red onion, carrot, cilantro and ground peanuts. From the starters, both the chicken skewers ($5) and the rib-eye skewers ($8) are wolf-able, less so the crispy Brussels sprouts ($6), seared in a way that made them resemble alien pods… but probably less appetizing.
Must try: The chai – with boba ($3.25) or without ($2.50) – greatly enhances bowls and bao.
3757 S. Gilbert Rd., Gilbert, 480-565-1965, sobas.com
Nestled idyllically within The Orchard – Lucia Schnitzer’s new food-and-coffee compound in North Central Phoenix – this charming bistro has vaguely Victorian appointments, yet an unmistakably modern atmosphere. The menu likewise gives a contemporary spin to classic dishes. The wood-fired wings ($9), more buff and juicy than one expects from such forelimbs, are bathed in a sweet yet smoldering sauce. The halibut ($19) over rice and refreshing bok choy shows an impressive light touch. Less so does the fig and pear cobbler ($8). I admired its earthy ambitions, but mine, at least, was on the heavy side, and a trifle singed. There’s a nice ego-boosting touch in the men’s room – the little tiles you stand on in front of the mirror read “You Look Good!”
Must try: The calamari and shrimp fritti ($11) are fried seafood done right – crisp yet tender, with no rubber eraser kinship.
7100 N. 12th St., Phoenix, 602-633-2600, pomelophx.com
El New Yorican Central Catering
The sign above the storefront says “EHK SUMMERTIME CATERING,” but sharp-eyed passersby on Peoria Avenue may spot a Puerto Rican flag in the window, and a handwritten sign on the door reading “Yes, Is Open.” The kitchen inside offers only metal folding chairs on which to wait for your carry-out order – and the blissful smell of New York/Puerto Rican fare cooked while you watch. The mofongo carne frita ($10) is a firmly-packed mound of fried plantains that makes a sort of tabula rasa against which the pieces of pork in a deep-brown batter are flavorfully contrasted. Even better is the pechuga de pollo a la parrilla, a salty, savory chicken breast with onions over yellow rice.
Must try: Best of all, however, is the empanada, marvelous beef and peppers in a golden pastry – a hearty meal for just $3.
8433 W. Peoria Ave., Peoria,
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