Destination: DiningOur vicinity preserves history as a hub of restaurant diversity
With fresh concepts popping up on Camelback and to the north and south of that bustling corridor, the stars — celestial and those used for restaurant ratings — are aligning over Arcadia and adjacent Biltmore, Paradise Valley and Old Town Scottsdale to put our vicinity on the map for dining destinations. The culinary choices continue to grow and get more inventive, and lucky neighborhood diners are more and more tempted to eschew home-cooked meals for the newest dining experience.
Postino, a wine café that opened in the historic Arcadia Post Office building in 2001, is recognized as one of the trailblazers for the Arcadia restaurant boom. Craig DeMarco, who co-owns Postino and its umbrella company Upward Projects, has witnessed the full evolution of the dining scene. What once was largely strip malls and chain restaurants has transformed into dynamic concepts forged by creative restaurateurs for a dining public that has become more sophisticated via the explosion of reality cooking shows and websites obsessing over food.
His company, which is also behind the Central Avenue restaurants Federal Pizza, Joyride Taco House and Windsor, set the stage for community-focused restaurants in the Arcadia area. DeMarco says the Arcadia dining scene has changed “dramatically” since the opening of Postino, which was a trailblazer of the new Arcadia wave, with its adaptive reuse of space before “adaptive reuse” was a household term. “When I was looking at that site [Postino], I must’ve taken over 100 people to see it and I could not get anyone to think it was a good idea,” DeMarco relates.
“I’m thrilled to see all the talent and creativity making its way into this area,” says Sam Fox, nationally recognized founder of Fox Restaurant Concepts, which currently has 16 different concepts in operation. “There’s been some great restaurant openings . . . that are sure to become Arcadia staples, like the cool hole-in-the-wall Pig’s Meow, the original Postino, and Sip Coffee & Beer on Indian School and 36th Street.”
One of Fox’s newer concepts is Flower Child, which emphasizes healthy eating. That concept co-exists and thrives alongside the other many Fox themes in the area, some older, some new. “We really consider our guest’s lifestyle when developing our restaurants in Arcadia. Flower Child provides a great convenience factor. You can sit and stay for a quick lunch or pick up dinner to go,” shares Fox. “Our most multi-faceted location is The Henry, a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, happy hour, dinner and weekend brunch with a coffee bar, and tons of seating for people working on their laptops. Plus, we also have a test kitchen on-site and some great private space for larger meetings. We consider North Italia as the go-to spot for a romantic date night on the patio and great place to share a bottle of wine.
“We get totally inspired by the Arcadia neighborhood and all the really unique buildings and spaces,” Fox says. “There’s tons of history here, like the old-school hand car wash on 40th Street. We opened North Italia there and were able to preserve that building by turning it into a neighborhood dining destination. Our cold-pressed juice shop, Juby True, is also in a great spot — a small lot off of 39th Street. It’s right in the heart of Arcadia and great to pop in and out of.”
History is what attracted DeMarco’s partner, Lauren Bailey, to one of Postino’s other vicinity location — on Scottsdale Road just north of Camelback. The building was designed by notable architect Frank Henry and was Valley National Bank’s 100th location, and it stayed on their radar. “We were excited about it for six years. Then there was a change in ownership and it became available,” relates DeMarco. “The architecture is beautiful, and we got to go in there and create an experience for people.”
Flower Child is a “healthy food for a happy world” fast-casual concept from Sam Fox that prides itself on freshness and on buying from ranchers who “love their animals.” An order-at-counter setup, it was named by Nation’s Restaurant News as one of the top restaurant debuts of 2014.
5013 N. 44th St., Phoenix
The focus is on maintaining a warm atmosphere where friends can relax. Wide wine selection goes hand in hand with a simple menu of simple food created with local ingredients. Upward Projects keeps its tradition of establishing unique locations in buildings historically relevant to their neighborhoods.
3939 E. Cambell Ave., Phoenix • (602) 852-3939
4821 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale • (602) 428-4444
The high-end ambiance-filled steakhouse owned by Dennis, Michael and Jeff Mastro and Scott Troilo has wowed Valley diners since its 2014 opening with its seafood and hand-cut steaks. So much so that it inspired them to open another one in the Houston area.
5101 N. 44th St., Phoenix
Owned and operated by German Osio, the fusion-food menu focuses on flavors from Latin America and the Far East. The food is supplied from Arizona farmers to ensure freshness. The heritage-blending spot opened in 2014 to the delight of fans of tapas-style dining.
6560 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale
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