When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Restaurant: Revo Pizzabar Location: 200 E. 5th Street, Tempe Open: About three weeks Eats: Pizza, salads Price: $15 and up/person
Revo Pizzabar, a fast-casual pizza spot located below the Tempe Transit Center, is not a ground breaking restaurant concept. In fact, the only thing that sets it apart from the many, many, many other similar spots around town may be that it's slightly more upscale than most and offers a full bar.
That doesn't mean it's not a good fit for the neighborhood. With a large patio, well-stocked bar, and prime location just steps from Sun Devil Stadium, this is exactly the kind of restaurant that can sail smoothly by with just-interesting-enough cuisine and plenty of cold beer.
Oh, and did we mention they deliver?
Tempe residents can thank real estate developer and restaurateur Joe Risi for the latest addition to the off-campus restaurant scene. If you've been around for a while, you may remember Risi's name from when he owned the well-loved brewpub Bandersnatch. This new spot is quite well-appointed with requisite trendy design elements like white subway tiles and exposed brick.
You place your order at a counter at the back of the restaurant, either choosing your own pizza toppings or opting for one of the restaurant's suggestions. Once you've completed the order, you can head for a table in the dining room or on the large patio that overlooks 5th Street and the north end of campus. Your food will be delivered to you.
We started with the Caprese small plate ($6), a neat arrangement of bread, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. The grilled pieces of dense bread weren't the best we've ever had but made an acceptable base for the balsamic vinegar doused cheese and tomatoes. It's probably not a dish that's going to make your Italian grandmother proud, but our college-age dining companion couldn't get enough of the accompanying pesto. For whatever that's worth.
The pizzas fared better. We ordered up the Revo ($11) at the recommendation the cashier and weren't unhappy with the decision. With olive oil, goat cheese, prosciutto, fig, arugula, and truffle oil this dish has a lot of flavors going on; the combo of salty goat cheese and prosciutto made a nice contrast to the sweet figs, while the truffle oil contributed aroma more than flavor.
Revo cooks the pizzas in Neopolitan-style (read: really fast at high heat) but doesn't quite achieve the perfect soft-on-the-inside, crispy-around-the-outside crust. Nevertheless the doughy edges are still enjoyable and at least our toppings didn't slide off the pizza if you choose to eat without a fork and knife.
Our server also recommended the Carnivoro ($11), a meat lovers pizza with mozzarella, Parmesan, pepperoni, and sausage. We liked the abundance of protein in this dish as well as the bold flavors and spice.
As for drinks, Revo's full bar serves up eight beers on tap and offers a list of inventive cocktails. There's the American Caprese with rye, basil, strawberry balsamic, and ginger beer, as well as the Winemaker with gin, vermouth, oregano, grapes, and lime. Best of all, you can get Revo pizza delivered between 11 a.m. and midnight, which is sure to come in handy for the many students living in nearby high rise apartments.