The Essential Place to Get Day Drunk and Nibble on Fancy Toast in Metro Phoenix

Teresa Traverse
A glass of wine and some fancy toast, anyone?
Welcome to The Essentials, our catalog of indispensable and quintessential Phoenix food and drink. From now until May, we'll be sharing 50 dishes, drinks, and food experiences that make up the culinary backbone (and personality) of metro Phoenix. This list is highly eclectic, mixing classics with newer and lesser-known favorites. But all The Essentials have one thing in common: We think they're required eating (and drinking) in metro Phoenix.

25: Bruschetta with wine at Postino.

Postino, the self-described “Valley's original neighborhood WineCafe,” is an Italian food and wine/beer joint with six Valley locations (plus one location in Denver's trendy LoHi neighborhood). Though a menu of starters, salads, and paninis is placed in front of you the moment you sit down, save yourself some time – go straight for the bruschetta and wine.

First, the wine. Postino offers a seasonal wine program, divided into November through March, and April through October. Italy, Chile, Spain, Argentina, Germany, France, and California are represented in bottles of malbec, chardonnay, petit sirah, prosecco, and more.

Follow your choice of wine with an order of the bruschetta board. You may choose from up to four selections, including warm artichoke spread, smoked salmon with pesto, prosciutto with figs and mascarpone, and ricotta with dates and pistachios. Be careful when you dole out pieces to friends – the generous toppings will spill off the side. Bruschetta can also come on gluten-free bread for an extra $2.

At certain times, pairing bruschetta and wine at Postino is easier on the wallet. Wine is $5 a glass each day from open until 5 p.m. (opening times are 11 a.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays). There’s also the $20 Monday and Tuesday deal: After 8 p.m., get a house bottle of wine and bruschetta for $20 flat.

The good people at Postino want to see you happy. But they do have to say no if you try to order a sixth glass of wine. Don’t ask us how we know this.

Each Postino location is unique in that each one is housed in a remodeled historic building. This template started in 2001, when the first location opened up in the old Arcadia Post Office Building.

Make this bruschetta-wine combo happen often enough, and you may feel the need to showcase the Postino bumper sticker, which reads: “DRINKING WINE AT LUNCH IS NOT A CRIME.” Visit the Postino website for locations and more information.

The Essentials so far:
50: Tequila Sunrise at the Arizona Biltmore.
49: "Dragon" Dumpling Burger at Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.
48: Dizzy Fig Empanada at Republica Empanada.
47: Linguine Carbonara at Avanti.
46: The Food Court at Mercado de los Cielos.
45: Chicken Feta Salad at George’s Kitchen.
44: Spinach & Cheese Chimi Burro at Mi Patio Mexican Restaurant.
43: Dinner at Rustler's Rooste.
42: Gyro Omelet at Mel's Diner.
41: Zipps Wings at Zipps Sports Grill.
40: Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa.
39: Asian Nachos at Moto.
38: Olive Oil Tasting at Queen Creek Olive Oil Mill.
37: Baby Back Ribs at Don & Charlie's.
36: Limoncello at Cibo.
35: Chili Salt Chicken Wings at Asian Café Express.
34: Smoked Prime Rib at Texaz.
33: Steak Salad at Feeney's.
32: Tasting Menu at Kai Restaurant.
31: Toffee Banofi Sundae at Sweet Republic.
30: Big Jim at Welcome Diner.
29: Sonoran Hot Dog at El Caprichoso.
28: Sashimi at Nobuo at Teeter House.
27: Oysters at Casey Moore's Oyster House.
26: Spring rolls at Da Vang.