August saw a couple old favorites shutter, but as the old fades, more than half a dozen newcomers have opened, looking to become new favorites with their perfectly flamed grills, superior cocktail programs, and new farm-to-table concepts. They have their work cut out for them as they scramble to get operations into butter-smooth shape before the off-season ends. Overall, it was a promising month for the metro Phoenix dining scene.
Ahipoki Bowl, Phoenix
Poke fever continues. At CityScape in Downtown Phoenix, Ahipoki Bowl opened its fifth Valley location. The outpost serves poke using the now-popular build-your-own-bowl approach. Ahipoki has further expansion plans on tap for 2018.
The Covenant, Paradise Valley
The latest restaurant to embrace the trend of extensive oven cooking is The Covenant, a local- and produce-driven restaurant on Tatum and Shea boulevards. Everything that is cooked is cooked in one of two huge ovens: bread, pitas, octopus, tomahawk stead. Garage doors on the Tatum side open to cool off the room. A shop serving coffee and pastries will open within the restaurant at the end of September.
Masterpiece Coffee + Donuts, Arcadia
Fried-to-order doughnuts are the highlight of this new Arcadia shop. Dial what you want on your doughnut into an iPad, choosing from a range of icings and toppings, or opting for a preset doughnut themed according to a world-class artist (like Picasso or Monet). Sip coffee while you wait. Doughnuts are $1.50.
MidiCi, Desert Ridge
California-based pizza chain MidiCi has brought its gold-tiled, made-in-Italy ovens to Desert Ridge Marketplace. The fast casual eatery has high ceilings, futuristic drink dispensers, and a deep roster of affordable pizzas that ranges from standard (Margherita) to funky (shrimp scampi).
OBON Sushi and Ramen, Scottsdale
Founder Brandon Katz’s Scottsdale Quarter eatery playfully draws dishes from Asia, the Pacific, and even Italy. Ramen, bibimbap, steamed buns, poke, and carpaccio are all on the menu. Chef Paul Im has developed a crudo lineup that cannot be found in OBON’s Tucson location.
A year after closing Rice Paper’s location in the Coronado neighborhood, the Tran sisters are back in the neighborhood with a new Rice Paper on Oak and Seventh streets. The menu has stayed mostly the same.
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Riazzi’s Italian Garden, Tempe
The beloved neighborhood Italian joint had been cooking red-sauce favorites since before The Beatles formed. Its longtime owners may do something next. In Riazzi’s place, an Italian-American restaurant called Quartiere is scheduled to open its doors this fall.
Macayo’s Mexican Restaurant, Scottsdale
The last Scottsdale outpost of Mexican chain Macayo’s has chosen not to renew its lease. Macayo’s will instead focus on relocation and reimagination of its central Phoenix branch, shooting for a more comfortable vibe while retaining classics. That location, to be called Woody Macayo’s, should be opening in early October.