It's been less than a month since chef Peter DeRuvo and owner Nick Neuman announced plans to open a new restaurant, Citrine, in downtown Tempe. Earlier this week the restaurant was buzzing — with staff training, menu writing, and construction all going on under one roof — but DeRuvo and Neuman insist they're on track to for a grand opening on Thursday, September 24.
Citrine is the second effort from the chef-restaurateur duo, who have also teamed up at EVO in Scottsdale. That restaurant's known for its late-night crowd and for DeRuvo's handmade pastas. In comparison, Citrine will be more casual, more approachable, and, yes, slightly more affordable, too.
We got a peek at DeRuvo's working menu, which will be limited for the first few weeks of operation.
Since the space Citrine is taking over used to house a pizza joint, there's only a wood-fired oven to work with (at least for right now). As you can imagine, not having a hood has forced DeRuvo to be creative with his menu. But the results are good: The menu includes unexpected dishes such as squid ink paella for two and a 25-layer lasagna. It's heavy on starters (expect more than two dozen options) and also offers entrees, a few pizzas, pastas, panini, and desserts.
To answer the burning question in your mind right now, yes, Citrine will serve the well-loved "crispy focaccia DeRuvo" — the cheesy flatbread the chef made famous during his stint at the short-lived Davanti Enoteca. And alongside the usual options such as a Caesar salad and margherita pizza, DeRuvo's bringing upscale ingredients including bone marrow, oysters, and foie gras that have been sparse on the Tempe scene.
DeRuvo's also designed a "sushi-style" menu of cheeses and salumi so that diners can build their own charcuterie boards just by checking off a few boxes. With prices ranging from $3 to $8, it's designed to appeal to experienced diners and those who don't know burrata from ricotta. (Charcuterie geeks will be excited to hear DeRuvo's offering housemade head cheese and terrine.)
The plans also include a miniature market area at the front of the restaurant, where diners can find grab-and-go merchandise such as bread, salumi, and cheese. The idea is to allow diners to pop in, grab a few items, and enjoy their custom charcuterie board at home.
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As for the space, Neuman's keeping the foundation mostly intact. Some of the biggest changes have been whitewashing a brick wall inside the dining room and replacing the concrete patio with Astroturf. The space will have modern lighting around the bar, which will feature a menu written by Chris Korf, who's name you may remember from his time at Citizen Public House/R+D.
DeRuvo says he wants to do "fun stuff" on the restaurant's patio — like whole-animal grilling and serving turkey legs a la the fair. Just imagine students walking down College Avenue with a giant turkey leg in hand. Diners can also look forward to happy hour and reverse happy hour deals.