I’ve probably never thought that Middle Eastern food is the type of food that needs innovation and modernization. Give me some well-executed schwarma nearly any day of the week and I will be a happy man. Yet, Pita Jungle not only exists in the Phoenix area, but it has multiple locations that demonstrate a pattern of success. Oh, and it just oozes modern Middle Eastern.
Being in the media has its advantages. Case in point: getting to check out the menu and beers at SanTan Brewing Company in Chandler. For this event, SanTan wanted to highlight beer pairings and the normal menu without any specials, but also showed off the backroom where the brewing is actually done. Unlike other breweries I’ve been to, we were encouraged to bring a beer along for the tour, and that beer was the StrataBlaster IPA, part of the brewery’s pilot series and a great place to start.
Sauce has been a staple in the Phoenix area for a good amount of years now. And it’s a good thing that it’s established itself, as other fast casual pizza spots have been sweeping the nation. And while Sauce is about more than just pizza (they have pasta and salads too), it’s the pizza that drew me, and presumably almost everyone else in.
Phoenix may not seem like a pizza town, but it unquestionably has some great stuff. There’s Pizzeria Bianco, of course, but also a number of other pizza places that have made Phoenix their second homes. Call them snowbird pizzas if you want. Humble Pie is one that has seen success in the area with a few locations. I headed to the one at Desert Ridge to see what it was all about.
The world has a few different styles of pizza: New York, Italian, Chicago, Detroit, etc. Yet, it takes a bold pizza purveyor to deliver something that doesn’t quite fit into a predetermined style. Mancino’s Pizza, which seems to have a series of somewhat affiliated locations around the midwest, has done just that. It was in Petoskey, Michigan that I snagged one of these pizzas for the first time.
In my ceaseless quest to find the best breakfast in breakfast heaven (Arizona), I found myself at the creatively named Breakfast Kitchen Bar in Scottsdale. Yay for sarcasm. But while the name wasn’t creative, the menu had a few things I had never seen before, one of them being the Breakfast Pizza.
When you need breakfast or brunch in Encino, where do you go? Well, when the opportunity presented itself to me I found myself at Claudine, which is like a bakery and restaurant in one. You order at a counter, and seats are hard to come by on the weekend, but I managed to snag a table right out from under an old lady. To be fair, all she needed was 2 seats and we needed 6 so I found another table for her. Sheesh.
LA isn’t an easy place to have sustained success. And I’m not just talking about the entertainment industry, I’m talking about food. You see, one day you can’t get a reservation at a place and the next it’s being replaced by a hot new thing. Yet, there are exceptions, like In-n-Out. But also Bestia, an Italian spot downtown that still requires reservations months out.
Ever since 800 Degrees hit the scene, it seems like quickie custom pizza shops have shown up everywhere. Pieology is one of these places and it follows in the same assembly line style of others before it. The ingredients are essentially the same as Blaze Pizza, but with a few tweaks here and there in the sauce department.
I will be the first to admit that I had a West Side bias when I made the move to Pasadena. I figured I would spend a whole lot of time on that side of town for meals out, but over and over again Pasadena has impressed me. Perhaps most impressive of all is the pizza scene, with The Luggage Room and Pizza of Venice already tackled by yours truly, I finally set my sights on Pie Life Pizza.