In February, the Valley’s favorite family-owned pizzeria chain moved its oldest location from one part of Tempe (Smith Road) to another (Rockford Drive and Rio Salado Parkway). The new spot seats 190 patrons and boasts a modern yet warm new look, with a copper patina bar and antique basket light fixtures along with alcohol service (a first for the Tempe location!) and an expanded menu. The other four locations – North Phoenix, Central Phoenix, North Scottsdale and Ahwatukee – will follow suit with similar revamps and menu expansions this year. We are all in.
The classics are here – Chicken Presto Pesto pizza, baked spaghetti calzone, toasty sandwiches – but the Spinato clan has added more pasta options, jumbo chicken wings and house-made desserts. Happy hour food deals are rich and delicious versions of Italian-American classics: cheesy garlic bread with marinara ($6); trio of meatballs ($6); boneless wings ($6); stuffed cremini mushrooms ($6); and our favorite, the cheesy, gooey roasted artichoke dip ($8). You can also get a small, one-topping pizza for only $10.
Premium drafts and house wines by the glass are $5, but specialty cocktails ($9) tempt. For something light to pair with your artichoke dip, we recommend the Bee’s Knees, with Mission Vodka, limoncello, Yucatán honey shrub, lemon juice, sage simple syrup and fresh sage. You can’t go wrong with a Negroni, done here with Canyon Diablo Desert Rain Gin, Campari, Alessio vermouth bianco and Averna amaro. If you want to drink your dessert, order the Dolce Tostato, an Italian campfire in a glass: Copper City Bourbon, Averna, coffee simple syrup, house-made toasted marshmallow and Luxardo cherry. Dolce indeed.
THE INSIDER SECRET
The pasta isn’t discounted for happy hour, but we don’t care. The roasted butternut squash penne ($13.50) and shrimp vino bianco ($16) are worth every penny. We’re counting the days until the expanded pasta menu hits the Spinato’s in our ’hood. The Tempe location is also home to Andiamo by Spinato’s, an area near the entrance where people can pick up salads, sandwiches, desserts and seasonal specialties.
Happy hour runs every day from 2-6 p.m.