Night Owl serves pizza and nostalgia in Scottsdale. Here's a taste of the menu | Phoenix New Times

First Taste

First Taste: Stop by for a slice of nostalgia at Night Owl

With pizza, wings, beer and pinball, Night Owl serves nostalgia by the slice.
Taste slices of nostalgia at Night Owl, now open in south Scottsdale.
Taste slices of nostalgia at Night Owl, now open in south Scottsdale. Tirion Boan
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When a new spot opens in town, we're eager to check it out, 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 — an occasion to sample a few items and satisfy curiosities (both yours and ours).

Imagine your grandpa's basement, complete with wood-paneled walls, retro beer signs, old-school board games, a comfy sofa and plenty of trinkets gathered over the years. Now, contemplate your dream garage as a kid, filled with skateboards, glowing pinball games, TVs and a touch of neon. Add in a dog-friendly patio, and you've got Scottsdale's new neighborhood hangout, Night Owl Pizza & Drinks.

Nostalgia is at the core of this concept, brought to life by the team behind Ziggy's Magic Pizza Shop and Stardust Pinbar and the guys over at The Little Woody. Situated on Hayden Road among the residential neighborhoods of south Scottsdale, Night Owl opened in early March. But it feels as though it could have been there forever.

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Work up the appetite to finish your pizza at one of Night Owl's pinball games.
Tirion Boan
Night Owl draws in groups of friends who arrive on bikes and families toting their dogs. It attracts lone barflies looking for a cold beer and a TV on which to watch the game, as well as couples eager to impress each other with their pinball wizardry. One thing is true of all the customers at Night Owl, everyone's welcome and comfortable.

Cozy booths line the wood-covered walls decorated with tchotchkes, many of which are owl themed, following the restaurant's name. There are paintings of owls, little figurines, carvings and, in the center of the square bar, a spotlit bird that slowly spins.

Behind the booths sit a few high-top tables and a vintage couch and chairs. Beyond that, a wall of skateboards leads into a glowing corner filled with pinball games. And the nostalgia continues beyond the decor making its way into the food and drinks.

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The cocktail menu at Night Owl is a welcome surprise filled with craft creations.
Tirion Boan

Start with a drink

If pizza and beer is your jam, there's Coors Light on draft. The beer list also includes a mix of national and local brews, with a highlight being Pizza Port Chronic Ale Amber. Montucky Cold Snacks, Modelo Especial, White Claw and Guinness are available in cans.

Wine by the glass, can and bottle, along with strong, fruity shots are available. But one area of the beverage menu that unexpectedly dials up the quality of your experience is the cocktails.

These aren't your typical well drinks. These tipples are for those millennial kids who love greasy pizza but grew up and got used to craft cocktails.

Try the Darkslide, a rich and aromatic mix of Tin Cup rye, blackberry, lemon, maple syrup and basil, or the Satinette, made with Don Q Cristal rum, Giffard Piment d'Espelette, passion fruit and lime with a Tajin rim. Fans of The Little Woody will find that bar's signature cocktail on the list with a warning that reads "spicy!" It's made with jalapeño cucumber tequila, lime, strawberry and bitter lemon soda.

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Everywhere you look, owl trinkets are staring back.
Tirion Boan

What's on the food menu?

After your drinks orders are in, it's time to peruse the food menu. Since this spot comes from the team behind Ziggy's Magic Pizza Shop, the pizzeria connected to the Van Buren concert venue in downtown Phoenix, pies and slices are the focus.

The 18-inch pizzas can be ordered whole or by the slice, and the menu's got all bases covered, with options including cheese, pepperoni, meat, supreme, Hawaiian, veggie and vegan. Things get just a touch more unusual with the Pretty Fly for a White Pie, which includes ricotta and mozzarella cheeses with Roma tomatoes and spinach, and the Pineapple Express, which adds jalapeños and pepperoni to a classic Hawaiian slice.

The slices are described on the menu as New York style. They're midsize triangles of greasy, gooey goodness. The crust stands up to the toppings but won't blow anyone away. Your kids will love this pizza. You, as a kid, loved this pizza. The cycle repeats.

What pairs well with pizza and beer? Wings, of course. And Night Owl has four flavors, including Buffalo, Bourbon BBQ, the dry-rubbed Stardust and house sauce special, Ziggy Style.

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Wings are served by the dozen or half dozen, and the loaded fries are a meal in their own right.
Tirion Boan
A few burgers find a spot on the menu, along with loaded fries in flavors that make your inner 7-year-old scream with joy. Fries topped with marinara, mozzarella and pepperoni just like a pizza? Or fries loaded with popcorn chicken, Buffalo sauce and ranch? Yes and yes. Garlic cheese knots round out the experience.

At Night Owl, the menu isn't groundbreaking, and the pizza is solid but not exceptional. But it doesn't matter. You're here for the nostalgia.

Slices hit the table on cream-colored melamine plates that look like they came straight from a bowling alley birthday party. The wings and fries are served on metal cafeteria trays.

This spot is pure '80s- and '90s-kid comfort that makes you wish a location of Night Owl would open within biking distance in your neighborhood.

Night Owl Pizza & Drinks

1645 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale
Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday & Sunday noon-2 a.m.
Pizza slices $3.50-$4.25. Whole pies $22-$30. Wings $9-$16. Fries $6-$11. Cocktails $10-$14.
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