Drunken Bread
Drunken Bread
Nikki Buchanan

Local Bistro: Happy Hour Report Card

See also: Kelly's at SouthBridge: Happy Hour Report Card See also: Ruth's Chris Steak House: Happy Hour Report Card

The Spot: Local Bistro, 20581 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, 480-302-6050, www.localbistroaz.com.

The Hours: Happy Hour: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. every day at the bar. The Interior: Happy hour happens at the white marble-topped bar near the entrance, which seats around 15 people and fills up rapidly. Get there well before five if you hope to snag a bar stool -- especially on a weekend night.

Brick walls, chalk boards and wall-to-wall wine bottles create warmth in an urban-edged, wide open, dining room, flanked by floor-to-ceiling windows. Weekend nights, the place is packed by 6:30, lending credence to the notion that Local Bistro really is a local bistro, beloved by its neighborhood.

The Food: The happy hour menu, posted on chalkboards behind the bar, draws primarily from the appetizer selection -- offering the same items at roughly half the price. Unless you're an artisanal olive freak, you'll need more than two people to finish a generous bowl of them, soaked in a marinade with citrus-y top notes ($3).

You'll be far less inclined, however, to share a cast iron skillet of gooey, bubbling Drunk Bread: a hunk of crusty bread, soaked in white wine and smothered in Gruyere, its molten top drizzled with tomato sauce and flecks of dried parsley ($6).

A mound of ahi tuna tartare -- mixed with avocado, lemon oil and crème fraiche -- isn't as pretty or as delicious as the light but vibrant version at Chelsea's Kitchen, but it's still pretty good. I can't help noting that Chelsea's corn chips also make a better scooper than Local's crostini, which washes out this delicate dish ($6). But we are in an Italian-ish restaurant after all.

And classic beef carpaccio proves the point nicely. Drizzled with citron-mustard aioli and served alongside arugula, micro-greens, avocado and shaves of Parmesan cheese, these rosy slivers of lean beef hit the sweet spot on a hot summer day ($5).

Am I bored with burrata? And beets too? This occurs to me a few bites into a less-than-exciting burrata-beet salad situation, combined with caramelized shallots, speck Tirolese (air-dried, slightly smoky ham) and micro greens, which go a long way toward making the dish more fun.

For something ultra-simple and inexpensive, you won't want to miss a trio of house dips served with chewy, warm-from-the-oven flat bread. Although salty tapenade is just okay, both pesto and romanesco (which looks and tastes like Spanish romesco to me) are first-rate. We scrape the bowls clean.

And, of course, the wood-fired pizza, nicely blistered from the oven, is one of Local Bistro's claims to fame. At happy hour, customers may choose between a Margherita or a 24-month aged pepperoni pizza ($6).

If you've saved room, and it's on the menu, try slippery chocolate panna cotta for dessert.

The Drink: At offers $4 well drinks, $3 and $5 beers and two dollars off all wines by the glass (and the list is extensive).

The Conclusion: Sure, you can drink, but Local Bistro's happy hour is all about the food, good enough and varied enough to constitute a light supper.

Grade: A-


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