It's been less than a month since chef Peter DeRuvo and owner Nick Neuman announced plans to open a new restaurant, Citrine, in downtown Tempe. Earlier this week the restaurant was buzzing — with staff training, menu writing, and construction all going on under one roof — but DeRuvo and Neuman insist they're on track to for a grand opening on Thursday, September 24.
Citrine is the second effort from the chef-restaurateur duo, who have also teamed up at EVO in Scottsdale. That restaurant's known for its late-night crowd and for DeRuvo's handmade pastas. In comparison, Citrine will be more casual, more approachable, and, yes, slightly more affordable, too.
We got a peek at DeRuvo's working menu, which will be limited for the first few weeks of operation.
Since the space Citrine is taking over used to house a pizza joint, there's only a wood-fired oven to work with (at least for right now). As you can imagine, not having a hood has forced DeRuvo to be creative with his menu. But the results are good: The menu includes unexpected dishes such as squid ink paella for two and a 25-layer lasagna. It's heavy on starters (expect more than two dozen options) and also offers entrees, a few pizzas, pastas, panini, and desserts.
To answer the burning question in your mind right now, yes, Citrine will serve the well-loved "crispy focaccia DeRuvo" — the cheesy flatbread the chef made famous during his stint at the short-lived Davanti Enoteca. And alongside the usual options such as a Caesar salad and margherita pizza, DeRuvo's bringing upscale ingredients including bone marrow, oysters, and foie gras that have been sparse on the Tempe scene.
DeRuvo's also designed a "sushi-style" menu of cheeses and salumi so that diners can build their own charcuterie boards just by checking off a few boxes. With prices ranging from $3 to $8, it's designed to appeal to experienced diners and those who don't know burrata from ricotta. (Charcuterie geeks will be excited to hear DeRuvo's offering housemade head cheese and terrine.)
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The plans also include a miniature market area at the front of the restaurant, where diners can find grab-and-go merchandise such as bread, salumi, and cheese. The idea is to allow diners to pop in, grab a few items, and enjoy their custom charcuterie board at home.
As for the space, Neuman's keeping the foundation mostly intact. Some of the biggest changes have been whitewashing a brick wall inside the dining room and replacing the concrete patio with Astroturf. The space will have modern lighting around the bar, which will feature a menu written by Chris Korf, who's name you may remember from his time at Citizen Public House/R+D.
DeRuvo says he wants to do "fun stuff" on the restaurant's patio — like whole-animal grilling and serving turkey legs a la the fair. Just imagine students walking down College Avenue with a giant turkey leg in hand. Diners can also look forward to happy hour and reverse happy hour deals.