100 Tastemakers in Phoenix

Pavle Milic of FnB on Fried Calamari, Pizzeria Bianco, and Donald Trump

From now until we publish the 2016 edition of Best of Phoenix, New Times is naming 100 Tastemakers — members of our local culinary community who help shape the way we eat, drink, and think about food in Phoenix. Some you'll know, and for others, it'll be a first introduction, but each person on our list deserves a nod for helping make our city so delicious. Oh, and while you're here, be sure to check out our list of 100 Creatives.

55. Pavle Milic of FnB

If you've dined at Scottsdale's FnB restaurant — once called “the epicenter of creative Arizona cuisine” by Food & Wine Magazine — then chances are good you've crossed paths with the restaurant's front of the house manager and co-owner Pavle Milic. Perhaps known best for helping the restaurant earn national recognition by curating the first Arizona-made wine program when it opened in 2009, Milic is also one of the Valley's best-loved and most gracious hosts. 

Milic entered the restaurant business at the age of 16, launching himself into a career that would include stints at the defunct but once well-loved Franco’s Trattoria in Phoenix and Anne Rosenzweig’s Arcadia restaurant in New York City. During his time working in California, including at Restaurant Budo in Napa Valley, Milic learned to embrace the relationships between food and wine, and farmers and winemakers. 

Today, Milic continues to advocate Arizona winemakers by featuring the state's best local wines on the FnB menu, in addition to producing his own wine label, Los Milics, which he produces in collaboration with Dos Cabezas Wineworks.

Today, he dishes on the best-kept secret in local art and his current obsession with author Donna Tartt. 

My go-to place for pizza in Phoenix is Pizzeria Bianco. I love the simplicity of the margherita pie: great crust, tasty tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, and basil. Not only does Chris [Bianco] source the best ingredients, he also is one of the nicest guys I know. I’ve grown up in the Valley, and for the past 28 years, he’s championed our local farmers and vignerons! His restaurants make me proud to live in Arizona.

The best-kept secret in Phoenix is 
Art One Gallery. Located in the epicenter of Old Town Southwestern art hell (or heaven, depending on your taste), Art One Gallery is a much welcome reprieve. Kraig Foote opened this gallery over 20 years ago with a single vision: to represent students of Arizona universities, community colleges, and high schools, as well as local Arizona artists.

The best places to run in metro Phoenix are ... I have two choices: Tempe Town Lake is a great way to run without worrying about traffic. Also, running next to the water is also a nice change of scenery considering where we live. If you want “escape” the city within the city, South Mountain is replete with lots of options in terms of elevation and length. Great trail running!

I'm totally obsessed with Donna Tartt (2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for The Goldfinch). Right now, I’m reading The Secret History, and as a lover of words, this book is both heady and beautifully written ... and totally over Donald Trump. I don’t even want to start listing the reasons. I watch the news with my kids and Trump has provided a great platform for me to start engaging my kids in discussions about how we view women, how we think and interact with people from different countries, and how we think about different religions. In other words, I point to Trump on TV and ask: DO WE WANT TO BE LIKE THAT GUY? No one says yes.

My culinary guilty pleasures are trying fried calamari from any restaurant that offers it. I’ve yet to find one like the one Claudio Urciuoli used to make back when I was the GM at Prado and he was the Chef de Cuisine ... and a glass of one of Kent Callaghan’s aromatic white wines or a glass of the thirst-quenching, ethereal Domaine Marquilliani Rosé from Corsica.

The 2016 Tastemakers so far: 

100. Aaron Chamberlin of St. Francis and Phoenix Public Market Cafe
99. Ross Simon of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour 
98. Debby Wolvos of DW Photography
97. Anibal and Salem Beyene of Café Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant 
96. Bo Mostow of Uptown Farmers Market
95. Julian Wright of Pedal Haus Brewery
94. Stephen Jones of The Larder + The Delta
93. Eric Glomski of Page Spring Cellars
92. Richard Bock of Giuseppe's on 28th
91. Walter Sterling of Ocotillo 
90. Daniel Sevilla of Angry Crab Shack
89. Doug Robson of Gallo Blanco and Otro Cafe
88. LaDawn Driscoll of Liberty Market
87. Jason Calhoon of The Shop Beer Co. and Side Kick Cold Brew
86. Tim and Kim Cobb of United Lunchadores Street Gourmet
85. Micah Olson of Bar Crudo and Okra Cookhouse and Cocktails 
84. Paola Embry of Christopher's + Crush and The Wrigley Mansion
83. Jared Porter of The Clever Koi
82. Diane Corieri of Evening Entertainment Group
81. Erich Schultz of Steadfast Farm Shares His Go-To Place For Beer That Tastes "Like Arizona"
80. Jeff and Leah Huss of Huss Brewing Company
79. Aaron Pool of Gadzooks Enchiladas and Soup
78. Diana Santospago of The Maine Lobster Lady food truck
77. Gio Osso of Virtu Honest Craft and Nico Heirloom Kitchen
76. Lauren Bailey of Upward Projects
75. Rodney Hu of Arizona Distilling Company and Yucca Tap Room 
74. Jacob Cutino of Homeboy's Hot Sauce
73. Country and Sergio Velador of Super Chunk Sweets and Treats
72. Dean Thomas of Cornish Pasty Co.
71. Jennifer Caraway of The Joy Bus
70. Scott Holmes of Little Miss BBQ
69. Jared Allen of Proof Artisan Breads
68. Steve McFate of McFate Brewing Company  
67. Mel Mecinas of Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North
66. Jessa and Dan Koppenhofer of Gilbert Farmers Market
65. Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas WineWorks
64. Ryan Probst of Odelay Bagel Co.
63. Diana Brandt of AZFoodie
62. Benjamin Butler of Hayden Flour Mills
61. Jim and Maureen Elitzak of Zak's Chocolate
60. Michael Babcock of Welcome Diner and Welcome Chicken + Donuts
59. Nick Ambeliotis of Mediterra Bakehouse
58. Peter Kasperski of Cowboy Ciao and Kazimierz World Wine Bar
57. Kimber Stonehouse of LGO Hospitality
56. David Tyda of EATERAZ and Arizona Taco Festival
KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria