First Bite: Across the Pond

Mike MeyerJanuary 1, 2019
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Clever Koi owners Josh James and Nick Campisano launched this casual sushi lounge across the breezeway from their uptown restaurant.

Hey homeowners: ever fantasized about snapping up that neighbor’s house you’ve always fancied? Clever Koi owners Josh James and Nick Campisano actually did it, launching this casual sushi lounge across the breezeway from their uptown restaurant after the previous tenant, Central Wine, went belly up. We brought them a housewarming gift: our stomachs.

Opened: October 2018

The Scene: Like Koi, ATP is a good thematic fit for this sleek midcentury revival space. A bar extends along most of its long, narrow, moodily lit length, and hanging bowl lamps lend it a classy suggestion of the Orient without a wisp of kitsch. It seats roughly 35 and is about half full on a Thursday night.

The Food: Since James is involved, an epic, on-point cocktail list and beverage program is a given. The real X-factor here is the sushi, and James and Campisano seem to have found a blue-chip prospect in Al Salinas, a San Tan farmboy who they recruited from Shimogamo in Chandler to be their itamae (sushi chef). Cutting and rolling solo, Salinas spurns most volume-sushi conceits like powered wasabi and composited crab meat –instead, he offers a surgical, elegantly sourced menu of nine selections, and a blackboard with three or four more specials. So instead of a mayo-heavy California roll, you might find silky scallop nigiri with modest tufts of orange curry ($8), or firm, buttery salmon crowned with wasabi relish, the way Hana does it ($7). Salinas’ three temaki (handrolls) are his conversation pieces – inspired multi-sensory creations like spicy yellowtail with lemon jam and ground Szechuan berries ($8). An idea: you could just order one of everything and call it omakase.  

The Early Verdict: Given its lightning-fast opening, ATP is eerily locked in. The owners promise a slightly expanded menu in early 2019, but we’d deem it a must-visit now for uptown diners who love Hana, Hiro, wYasu and other pillars of refined Valley sushi.
4236 N. Central Ave., Phoenix

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