Florencia Pizza Bistro is one of those locally owned neighborhood eateries. Ahwatukee has a lot of these little hidden gems because most of them are located in strip malls. This one has been around for quite some time and resides next door to the popular Melting Pot. They offer three types of pizza – Traditional, Olive Oil (Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Mozzarella Cheese with no tomato sauce) and Pesto (Basil Pesto Sauce with no tomato sauce). You can create your own with toppings (over 40 topping choices) or choose from one of their popular specialty pizza creations. Some of the names include the Snow White, Pomodora, Valentinos, Winchester, Clevenger, Malanzane, Bo-Be and the Green-Eyed Chicken. There are many more creations to choose from and they have vegetarian options as well. The dough is house made and their pizzas are thin-crust. I’m more of a thick crust person myself but actually found their thin crust quite enjoyable. They also have panini, calzones, salads and sandwiches if pizza is not on your radar. Their appetizer menu is not incredibly large but they have a nice variety to choose from. I got the mozzarella sticks and felt they were just average. We ordered the Clark’s Classic pizza which consisted of pepperoni and chicken marinated in buffalo sauce. I was a little worried the sauce would soak through the thin crust and make it soggy but it actually held up (even eating it as a leftover the next day). There is a small bar area to the side where you can order a glass of wine or beer. The owner is a Wildcat fan (boo…) and they’ve had fun fundraisers in the past during the annual ASU/UA football game to benefit the local high schools in the area. It wasn’t very busy when I visited but service was pretty good.
Helio Basin Brewing has become one of my favorite local breweries. Their slogan is Quality Crafted in Phx. They took residence in an old pool hall that I used to hang out at in Arcadia. Helio Basin is founded by Mike Conley and brewmaster Dustin Hazer. Chef Tamara Stanger creates the amazing food that is served here. It’s the perfect pairing of top quality brews with simple but innovating food. Many of the dishes here have some sort of representation of Arizona in it. For beers, their IPA and Blackberry Wheat are the big sellers. I think my favorite thing about this place is the sense of community they have created here. They have a few large tables for large parties and have the ability to open up the patio for outdoor events. From talking to many guests that I sit next to, Helio Basin had become a popular neighborhood favorite. I came here for their one year anniversary party with a buddy and my son. I ordered a beer flight got a nice variety of beers as my selection. The Robust Porter is one of my favorites. Chef Tamara put together some delicious roasted pig tacos with banana cornbread and Sonoran rice. We had a great time and enjoyed our beers and food. Hello Basin is a great addition to the Arcadia food scene and definitely check out their great happy hour and Taco Tuesdays!
I just found out recently that this Portland-based coffeehouse opened in Chandler. In fact, we currently have three locations in AZ. Black Rock Coffee offers a variety of drink options, from drip coffee to mochas to espresso to hot tea. So what makes this coffee chain different from other ones? They really strive on connecting with people and creating an atmosphere to craft those stories. This location is very spacious and located in the southern part of Chandler. They have both walk-up and drive-thru service. The latte I got was pretty good and I thought the staff was really friendly. Black Rock seeks to build connections with the local community and were donating their proceeds of the day to a family of a local teacher that had been killed recently. I love hearing stories of local businesses seeking to make a difference and thought I’d stop in and show my support.
I’m really bummed to see another local favorite closing it’s doors. Pizza People Pub has been operating out of this location across the Phoenix Public library since 2013. They have a great story of a family owned business starting out of a food truck and eventually opening their own restaurant. Their menu consists of their signature made-from-scratch 10 inch artisan pizzas and a variety of pub favorites like wings and their always popular mac & cheese. I always got a kick out of some of the pizza creations that they have (and the names) – Date Me, The Hulk, Testosteroni, Popeye, Fun Guy, The Hottie, etc. Even though I love their pizzas, I usually came here to try one of their many mac & cheeses. Some of my favorites have been the Smokey Paprika Mac, the Jalapeño Mac and the Truffle Mac. They load their mac & cheese with lots of cheese so they are nice and gooey. I wish they had a mac & cheese flight so I could sample them all. I stopped in tonight to have a last meal here before they close shop. I enjoyed hearing my bartender share stories of how much he enjoyed working here. It’s always sad to hear of local restaurants going out of business. I wish them the best.
– since I wrote this post, new owners have given Pizza People Pub a new lease on life and are keeping things the way that made Pizza People so popular. They will be re-opening in August!
This was the perfect Yelp Elite to start off the new year. Especially after two months of holiday parties. Fresh Millions is a fast-casual “eat healthy” concept food chain that has endless combinations available from their menu. They offer lunch or dinner entrées that include made-to-order gourmet salads with a variety of mix-ins, hot bowls, soups, and grilled paninis. They first opened in 2015 and locations have been popping up all over the Valley since then. People love choices these days and Fresh Millions allows you to choose what you want on your entrée. You basically order on one side of the stainless-steel counter, pick your toppings, pay at the other side of the counter and take your food to a table. For bowls, you choose your base (brown rice, noodles, spinach, romaine, etc), a protein (chicken, shrimp, steak, tofu), a sauce (basil pesto, Thai peanut, green curry, etc) and four mix-ins. You can even go half-and-half base and do rice and romaine/spinach. The cooks will mix and sauté up your creation and you can watch the magic happen right over the counter as they are an open kitchen. For the little ones, they have a healthy fresh kids’ menu. If you are in a hurry and don’t want typical unhealthy greasy fast food, this is the place to go.
We had a Yelp Elite event at Fresh Millions to celebrate their grand opening location in Gilbert. I love these events that introduce me to new places around the Valley. I also love getting more acquainted with my fellow Yelp Elites as these are the people with the most knowledge of where the best eats are in the Valley. We were given sandwich and salad samples and able to create our bowl. For dessert, we had a table full of yummy cookies to choose from. This was a fun event and I look forward to a return visit.
Well … my rookie year of being a Yelp Elite is officially behind me. This event was a great way to kick off the new year for all of us Yelpers that got badges for 2017. This was also my first time checking out Bevvy and they did a great job of hosting us. I grew up in Scottsdale and can’t believe how much this area has changed over the years. Bevvy is in the heart of the downtown area. They are a neighborhood gastropub run by Evening Entertainment Group (RnR, HiFi Kitchen + Cocktails) and one of the only licensed off-track horse racing betting pubs in AZ. I really enjoyed their spacious patio area, leather booths, wood-paneled walls and the variety of TV screens and yard games throughout the bar. My only knock is that they are the headquarters for the New England Patriots during football season. I attended quite a few Yelp events last year and made a lot of new friends. So this event for me was about getting reacquainted with everyone and congratulating them on their 2017 badges. It was nice to see most of my Yelp family all under the same roof. They had Yelp backdrops for us to take photos in front of and Yelp filters for us to post on Snapchat. Props to the photo booth guy for killin’ it as always, to Chandon for the champagne and of course to our awesome Yelp staff for the fun evening out!