Cafe Reviews

Second Helpings

Restaurant Rumblings: I'm not a believer in reincarnation. But after following the saga of Mike's Golden Crust, I may have to rethink my position. There may be something to this great mandala stuff after all.

If you haven't been paying attention, the original proprietor, Mike Korvessis, sold the flourishing west-side property last summer. The new owners went under within a few months.

Meanwhile, Mike's sister, with his blessing, opened a new place in the far northwest Valley, Mike's Grill, which virtually duplicated her brother's original menu at Mike's Golden Crust. (Mike's now heading the kitchen.)

So Mike's Golden Crust was empty. But not for long. It's just been taken over by the young chef/proprietor of Centro Cafe & Bakery, which occupies a small storefront location at 24th Street and Thomas. It's a wonderful, cheap Italian/Greek neighborhood spot with a budget-friendly BYOB policy.

How is this a case of the circle coming 'round? Centro Cafe's guiding spirit started out with Mike several years ago. When they split up, he brought Mike's philosophy and cooking style with him to his new venture. Now he's grabbed the opportunity to do business at the source.

For the time being, Centro Cafe & Bakery will operate from two locations, offering substantially the same menu at both places. But the new branch has equipment that the smaller 24th Street storefront lacks. So look for pizza and calzone at the west-side place, as well as cappuccino and house-made baked goods. Moreover, the new enterprise is too large to be BYOB (according to the law, such restaurants must have fewer than 40 seats). It does, however, have a liquor license. I wouldn't be too surprised if the proprietor eventually decides to focus all his energies on this bigger spot and give up his original property.

The new Centro Cafe & Bakery is at 15820 North 35th Avenue. Call 938-3383.
Spanish Nights: Mike's Golden Crust isn't the only dead place being resurrected this year.

Remember Tapas Papa Frita? When it opened in the early 1990s at 32nd Street and Camelback (the storefront is now occupied by Tarbell's), it was only the second Spanish restaurant in the Valley. It was good, too.

But the chef/owner Joseph Gutierrez shut it down three years ago and put his energies into Tutto, a trendy Scottsdale Italian restaurant.

Now he's reviving Tapas Papa Frita, this time in downtown Scottsdale, at 6810 East Fifth Avenue. Let's hope it's worthy of the original.

Etiquette Lesson: Anyone with kids knows that civilizing them is a long, arduous process. Especially at dinnertime.

Help, however, is on the way in the form of a cute new book, The Proper Pig's Guide to Mealtime Manners, by L.A. Kowal and Sally Stamp (Five Star Publications, $19.95). Proper Pig deals with many mealtime irritations, from getting the kids to wash their hands to clearing the table. Among the no-nos: no television during meals, no popping up and down during dinner and no criticizing the cook's efforts. For a copy, call Five Star Publications at 940-8182.

--Howard Seftel

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