First Taste

Isa's: North Phoenix's New Favorite Pizza Spot

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: Isa's Pizza Location: 777 East Thunderbird Road Open: Almost three months. Eats: Pizza Price Point: $11 to $30

Nearly three months ago, Myrah and Joe Aiello, owners of Aiello's, the East Coast Italian restaurant in Phoenix, announced the opening of their new pizza shop, Isa's Pizza, (named after their daughter) right next door to their second restaurant, Aiello's Salumeria, a "mini Aiello's," at the southeast corner of Thunderbird and Seventh Street.

Like the pies served up at Aiello's backdoor, the takeout-only pizza business literally done from the back of Aiello's, the casual Isa's will feature signature Neapolitan and Sicilian-style creations ordered up at the counter. And at Isa's, pizzas are available as whole pies or by the slice and for dine-in or to-go.

All of which equals good news for north Phoenix pizza fans.

Isa's menu includes a small but tight selection of specialty pizzas, a couple of sandwiches, garlic knots, and buffalo wings. Full pies range from an 18" New York cheese pizza for $16 to a stuffed pizza with two toppings for $24. Slices are $2.50 for Neapolitan and $2.75 for the more doughy Sicilian. Plus, there's a lunch special, which includes two slices and a soda for five bucks.

Isa's pizza crust is nothing short of stellar -- slightly crispy, soft inside, and with a good chew. And with homemade mozzarella, sauces, and fresh ingredients, it's hard to go wrong with any of the selections. Two of my favorites were Nana's Pie, with a zingy sweet plum tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella, and basil; and the spinach Alfredo, luscious and creamy, and with flavorful fresh spinach in every bite.

I also enjoyed a wonderfully satisfying stromboli. With a golden brown crust packed with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and mozzarella with a side of bright tomato sauce for dippin, its seven dollar price point seemed like a steal.

If you'd rather watch the pizza magic happen instead of waiting for your pie at one of Isa's checkered table-clothed tables in its small red-painted seating area, you can stand at the counter area and observe Isa's affable pizza chef do some serious dough tossing, topping sprinkling, and oven in-and-outs, while wearing a Yankees ball cap and singing along to 60's rock tunes.

And because Isa's connects to next door Aiello's Salumeria, pizza eaters in-the-know can be seen ordering up a slice at Isa's Pizza and a salad at the Salumeria for a light meal that combines the best of both worlds. Delicious.

(Note: The Aiellos burger joint, Charr, located a few doors down in the strip mall, is set to open in the next few weeks.)

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