Patio Upgrades

M.V. MoorheadApril 1, 2018
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Satisfy your al fresco food cravings at these new indoor-outdoor Valley restaurants.

East Valley
Copper Still Moonshine Grill
Opened: December 2017
The patio of this sports bar – the Chandler satellite of a popular Gilbert watering hole – offers a fine view of the abutment to Chandler Boulevard’s overpass of the I-10. Unless you’re a student of civil engineering, it’s not the most romantic sight, so an outdoor row of ESPN-pumping big-screen TVs is thoughtfully provided. Sitting down to my lunch, I caught a stale waft of cigarette fumes from a downwind patron, and was reminded of another important function that patios serve: smoker apartheid. Secondhand smoke aside, lunch was tasty. From the appetizers, the hummus ($8.25), purportedly “made from scratch” in either roasted red pepper or jalapeño-cilantro with tandoori bread and veggies for dipping, does indeed have an unprocessed authenticity. Same for the fish tacos ($11.50), fried cod and cabbage under a quietly smoldering “Baja” sauce (made with mayo and Sriracha, we’d wager).
Must try: The sloppy Joe ($10.75) – featuring pork chorizo with poblanos, Monterey Jack and avocado spread – is not the Joe you knew from your high school cafeteria.
7450 W. Chandler Blvd., Chandler, 480-350-7469,

Deli Tavern
Opened: December 2017
The patio at this Downtown spot, once the home of the Downtown Deli, is nominal – a fenced-off area of sidewalk, accommodating maybe 10 or 12 folks. I suspect it’s mostly there for the convenience of smokers. Still, there’s an impressive urban canyon feel to that stretch of Central, and the people-watching is above average. So is the food, inside or out. From the starters, the turkey noodle soup ($6), cubes of bird and pipette noodles bathing with carrots and celery, is non-heavy comfort food. Undeniably heavier but still comforting is the Mom’s Meatloaf ($12), aptly named only if your mom preferred to ladle a broodingly sweet bourbon sauce over her finely ground Angus loaf. The egg salad sandwich ($8) with arugula, the Out n In Burger ($10) on brioche and the house-made apple pie ($6) á la mode all do justice to these noble standards.
Must try: Reportedly named for a friend of the owners, the Jimmy Cakes ($2) – Oreo-esque sandwiches of chocolate cake with cream cheese filling – are unkind to the waistline.
130 N. Central Ave., 602-583-7564,

South Scottsdale
Opened: November 2017
Sometime this month – for about an hour or so – it will be patio season here in the Valley. Those who wish to partake of the locally fleeting pleasure of dining al fresco should appreciate this pizza-centric gastropub. An expansive courtyard patio is surrounded by hip neighboring office space, with a commanding view of Thomas Road and the Papago Buttes beyond. The food is even better than the view. Chief tempter among the sandwiches is the short rib grilled cheese ($14) –  punchy barbecue Angus beef and cheddar on toasty multigrain bread, with truffle fries on the side. Pizza being the house specialty, I went for one of the more traditional choices, the Mia ($19), with pepperoni and splendid fennel sausage. The toppings kept falling off the thin crust, but were so yummy I didn’t care about the structural integrity.
Must try: If the soup of the day ($4 a cup, $6 a bowl) is pheasant and lentil, as it was twice for me, don’t miss it.
6350 E. Thomas Rd., 480-272-7500,

West Valley
Fabio on Fire
Opened: June 2017
The name sounds like a reality series on Bravo (“Next week, on an all-new Fabio on Fire…”), but the offerings – crafted by catering legend Fabio Ceschetti in his new-ish brick-and-mortar location – are the real deal. Ceschetti specializes in subtle yet potently flavorful renditions of Italian classics, along with masses-pleasing pies labeled under “Pizza Americana.” (“No Italian description because this is not an authentic Italian pizza,” the menu haughtily notes.) Located at the end of a strip mall, the little eatery has a shaded patio that serves as an elegant spot to listen to Andrea Bocelli and mangia the sublime gnocchi ($14.95) or the even sublime-r tagliatelle alla Bolognese ($16.95) – the former tiny and tender potato dumplings, the latter big, flat rustic strips of pasta, both superbly dressed in sumptuous meat sauce.
Must try: If the diverse spate of daily specials includes the spaghetti with shrimp and sweet, plump mussels ($24.95), and you skip it, you’re skipping true glory.
8275 W. Lake Pleasant Pkwy., Peoria, 623-680-5385,

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