Equal parts Anthropologie and old Hollywood movie set, The Duce is an ambitious attempt at recreating an entire city neighborhood. Think New York or Chicago in the 1940's.
Complete with news stand, soda fountain, coffee bar, organic grocery market, various other retail nooks and perhaps most important a restaurant and bar, The Duce is a throwback to "the good ol' days" when mom and pop stores reigned. The pre-Walmart era. A time we are all nostalgic for whether we've ever really experience it or not.
Get to know Jonathan Vallo after the jump.
Originally, Jonathan Vallo (a.k.a. JV) came to Phoenix to finish his Mechanical Engineering degree, but found that his love for food led him in another direction and found himself in the kitchen at La Grande Orange before The Duce made him an offer he couldn't refuse.
Having grown up in Cleveland, Ohio, Jonathan feels right at home in the vintage world Steve and Andi Rosenstein have created. He also digs the Duce's mission of re- creating a strong community in downtown Phoenix.
"The overriding idea for the space is a community neighborhood all under one roof" says Jonathan. "We've even set up the tables to give it a neighborly kind of feel where you might be sitting with people you don't know and it let's you get to know them, if you like."
Thoughts on Phoenix I moved here in 2004 for a change of scenery. I wanted to come out here, finish school and get out of the cloudiness that is Cleveland. Since then I've been waiting for Phoenix to evolve into the city I know it can be.
Thoughts on Downtown It has a lot potential. Some of it has already started to come together, like around Matt's Big Breakfast or Grand Avenue. I'm excited to see it evolve.
As far as where we're located, it's pretty low key. Theres not a whole lot going on down here but I think having us as a neighbor might help bring some life into the area. There is certainly the space for a ton of stuff, restaurants, nightlife, etc.
Inspiration for the menu Andy and Steve's family recipes. Stuff they grew up with. The brisket the meatballs, the different deserts, the kugel, it's all their family recipes and things they've grown up with. We are all about good wholesome feel-good food.
Favorite Item on the menu The Brisket Sliders. It's a slow cooked brisket, we roast it for about 5-6 hours. It's amazingly tender and full of flavor.
Tomorrow we'll continue our conversation with Jonathan Vallo and on Thursday, Jonathan will share The Duce's very own S'mores Cheesecake recipe.