While I love our new office at The Quad business/restaurant complex in the south Scottsdale/Arcadia area, there are quite a few things I miss about our old office at Scottsdale Quarter in north Scottsdale. Chief among them are Press Coffee (where I was a daily visitor) and Sorso Wine Room, the first wine bar I fell for as a nascent wino and a frequent happy hour haunt for PHOENIX and Phoenix Home & Garden staffers during our time at the Quarter.
One summer, associate art director Angelina and I went there so often for our beloved Cavicchioli rosé that the servers knew our order before we even sat down. I was thrilled when a mediocre gastropub left the complex and Sorso became our team’s go-to spot for celebrating the end of “ship week,” the time – usually more than a week, truth be told – in which we ship the magazine to the printer every month.
It’s the kind of place you want to linger. The design is industrial chic, with more emphasis on the “chic” – metal and wood tables, chairs and high-top stools with a few plush booths; a wall behind the kitchen/bar covered in a magnified image of a green leaf; big cut-out metal letters spelling SORSO, each filled with spent corks from wine bottles; a selection of wines in gleaming showcase taps; a nifty “graph” of horizontal wine bottles arranged around a flavor axis for easy identification and selection, with BOLD at the top, LIGHT on the bottom, FRUITY on the left and EARTHY on the right.
It feels urbane yet relaxed, which is exactly how I want to feel while sipping a glass of wine or two.
Over the years, I’ve sampled many dishes on Sorso’s food menu, and none have disappointed. I almost always get bruschetta (two for $6 during happy hour; two for $10 regularly; four for $16; six for $22). For my money, it’s some of the best bruschetta in town. I love that the bread is toasted and crunchy, not soggy and flabby like so many specimens. You need a solid base to hold up the tasty toppings. My favorites: salami, basil-rich pesto, Parmigiano-Reggiano; burrata, soppressata, sun-dried tomato pesto; green apple, Brie, caramel drizzle; and pancetta, dates and goat cheese (Sorso’s pancetta is always the right mix of crispy and chewy, never flimsy nor burnt).
The Brussels Board ($11) is another must: roasted sprouts with that perfect pancetta, dates and Gorgonzola, served tumbling out of a little glass jar and onto a petite wooden board. Roasted chickpeas ($6) with cumin, garlic, chile powder, salt and pepper are the kind of crunchy, salty, yummy snack you could eat a lot of without realizing it, like a gourmet version of your favorite potato chips. Burrata ($12) is spiced up with crispy chorizo, roasted tomatoes and arugula, served with toasted crostini. The grilled cheese flight ($10) is a fun food flight to go with your wine flight. Ditto the build-your-own charcuterie board, with cheeses and meats $3-$4 each and accompaniments like fig jam and whole-grain mustard a mere 50 cents each.
When the PHOENIX mag familia would come for happy hour, we’d always share one or two orders of The Dip ($11 regularly; $3 off during happy hour), a mesmerizing mix of mozzarella, Parm, basil pesto, shishito peppers, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and spinach, topped with sun-dried tomato pesto and even more cheese. So cheesy, so creamy, so freaking delicious. We’d fight over the last crostini dipper and scrape up every last morsel of glorious goo.
Yes, it’s a wine bar, but they have much more than wine. My boss, Craig, would often get a craft beer or two on draft ($4 each during happy hour). Calendar editor Judy would get a Bud Light. Teetotaling art director Mirelle would order a Coke or a San Pellegrino flavored soda (blood orange Aranciata Rossa for the win, am I right?). Angelina and I would always get wine – usually the aforementioned rosé, but sometimes others. (House wines by the glass are $6 each during happy hour.) There are also cocktails, which I suppose I should try someday. They look great. But I’m a wine gal, so I relish the opportunity to try interesting wines.
During a recent visit with a friend, I was in the mood for bubbles. I started with the yeasty, apple-y Gruet Blanc de Noirs sparkling white and then had sweet, brambly and fizzy Grasparossa de Castelvetro Lambrusco. She had an equally satisfying red blend.
THE INSIDER SECRET
They’re not related to happy hour, but Sorso has two really cool things for parties and events. First, you can book Cellar 24, a private room in the wine bar surrounded by wine racks and adjustable room dividers. I took a coffee class from Press there once, fittingly, and it was atmospheric and enjoyable. Second, you can rent the Wine Wagon, Sorso’s mobile bar that boasts eight wines and beer on tap, for parties, weddings, picnics, etc.
Happy hour runs daily from 3-6 p.m., and all day on Wednesdays. Plus, from Tuesday-Saturday, it returns for a late-night encore from 10 p.m.-close.
Happy hour deals:
- $6 each: house wines by the glass; any two bruschetta
- $4 each: house beers on draft; mixed olives
- $3 off: specialty cocktails and liquor; flatbreads, Brussels board; Ortaggio; The Dip
- $20: house wines by the bottle
- $25: house bubbles by the bottle