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: Base Pizzeria
Location: 3115 East Lincoln Drive
Open: About two months
Eats: Pizza and salad with a heavy emphasis on organic and local
Price: $15 to $20/person
A lot of people would argue that Phoenix is not in need of another pizza place. After all, we have Pomo, Bianco, and a whole slew of other gourmet pizza joints. But Base Pizzeria seems to be less about the pie and more about the ingredients — local, fresh ingredients that is. Base is run by three Aussies and an American who espouse a "clean-eating" philosophy.
Considering that, it makes sense Base's atmosphere is clean, too. The restaurant has white walls, a dark wood bar, and a bright yellow-tiled wood-burning oven that serves as the room's focal point. The view of the Phoenix mountains also is spectacular, and we imagine the small patio will be in demand once it cools down.
Your server will most likely be one of Base's friendly Aussie owners — and they know everything about their menu. We grilled our server on almost every ingredient, from the flour in the pizza (from Central Milling in Utah) to the beets (varies) in the salad, and they could source everything with no trouble at all. Produce tends to revolve depending on the season, but one of the owner says the two farms Base primarily uses for produce are McClendon's in Peoria and Agritopia in Gilbert. We started with the beet salad.
The salad came fast and was simple but not boring: organic shredded kale, red onion, golden and purple beets, Crow's Dairy goat cheese, and a drizzle of sweet pomegranate dressing. The creamy goat cheese was especially decadent, pairing well with the flavorful beets — though we would have liked a little more dressing or oil to coat the kale, which was too dry.
We ordered our pizza at the same time as our salad but were asked only after we'd finished the salad whether we wanted the chef to throw the pizza in the oven, which took another seven minutes. The delay was just a little hiccup in the service, which was otherwise attentive and friendly. Our server recommended the Mediterranean, a veggie pizza with a crushed tomato base, olives, artichokes, mushrooms, and just a touch of shaved Parmesan.
Not all pizzas at Base come with such little cheese (several include a nice-looking fior di latte) but we actually didn't miss the heft or gooey-ness of mozzarella. Instead, this pizza was light, and no veggie tasted overpowering beneath the slightly tangy tomato sauce. The olives were especially salty and pungent, practically bursting with flavor.
The thin Neapolitan-style crust was chewy and perfectly good. By no means, though, was it the star of the show — instead, it served as the perfect vehicle for some beautiful organic local vegetables.
Other pizzas on the menu piqued our interest to try in the future including the Prawn, a pie topped with fresh shrimp, red onion, and chile and the Piggy, made with prosciutto and arugula. The drink list also looked interesting, with a mix of local and foreign beer, liquor (including an Arizona-made moonshine), and wine.
Prices weren't sky-high, but $15 for a pizza with no meat and very little cheese was a little steep. The salad had a $13 price tag, but it was big enough to take half home for the next day's lunch.
Walking out of Base, we didn't feel the usual pang of guilt we usually feel after inhaling so much pizza. Head to this restaurant for the produce, the friendly service, and the great mountain view.
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