Each week we venture to a new restaurant to check out what the spot has to offer during our favorite time of day — happy hour. Whether it's affordable appetizers, delicious drinks, jaw-dropping deals, or none of the above, we'll check out the situation and report back.
The Spot: Tommy V’s Osteria Pizzeria
3225 East Camelback Road
The Hours: Happy hour is offered from 4 to 6:30 p.m. every day, throughout the restaurant.
Perfect For: A friendly, casual night out with authentic Italian food. Think of Tommy V’s as your neighborhood pizzeria. If your neighborhood was in Sicily.
The Interior: Tommy V’s Osteria Pizzeria is both a figurative and literal extension of Tomaso’s, the restaurant by Tomaso Maggiore that has been a staple of the Italian dining scene in Phoenix for almost 40 years. It's located in the space right next door — in fact, a door in Tommy V’s north wall leads directly to the main dining room of Tomaso’s — and servers and bussers scuttle freely between the two. Diners have their choice of high tops, low tables, or a good old-fashioned seat at the bar, where they can watch the game on a flat screen or be equally mesmerized by kitchen staff shuffling pies in and out of a wood-burning pizza oven. In typical Sicilian style, the art is a mixture of oil paintings and black-and-whites of Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, and other buxom beauties.
The Food: True to its word, Tommy V’s is like Tomaso’s, but without the white tablecloths. On the happy-hour menu: a bruschetta board ($12), Margherita pizza ($9), calamari ($9), chicken Caesar salad ($8), fettuccine with bolognese ($9), rigatoni with smoked chicken ($9), meatballs (3 for $6), and an eggplant torte ($9). None of the prices feel especially special, but neither the quality nor the quantity will disappoint. Tip: Make this your cheat day, and do not skip the bread and butter that precede your meal.
We went with a classic Margherita pizza, the bruschetta board (which included three types of bruschetta: caprese, smoked salmon, and pastore), and the calamari, at our server’s suggestion. While our server was warm and spunky, the calamari, sadly, was neither. Nevertheless, the pizza was perfect and the bruschetta board was excellent.
The Drinks: The staff at Tommy V’s, bless them, have a heavy hand when pouring their wine. That, coupled with the wink and a nod they give you when you ask if you’re too late for another glass on happy hour, will win your heart. In fact, it’s this old-school hospitality, even more so than the top-notch wines and authentic Italian food, that will make you feel like you’re sitting in your nonna’s kitchen.
During happy hour, draft beer is $3.50, well drinks are $6, and wines by the glass are $6. Our glass of Nero D’Avola hit the spot, and when we didn’t see the pinot grigio we wanted on the happy hour menu, those charming servers offhandedly waved our concerns aside and brought it to us for $6 anyway. Now that’s amore.
Conclusion: If Tomaso’s is the buttoned-up, fancy purveyor of Italian fine dining, think of Tommy V’s as its kid brother, who saunters into the kitchen in jeans and sneakers and starts tossing pies. The same culinary magic that has made Tomaso’s great is baked right into the dough, but the atmosphere and menu at Tommy V’s are far more approachable. And on a corner with plenty of good options, this osteria holds its own.
Don’t Miss: The bruschetta.
Skip This: The calamari. The light breading was on point, but our squid was overcooked and lacked flavor.
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