Tag Archives: Downtown Phoenix Bars & Nightlife

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in Phoenix Opening May 16th

Dominic Armato, The Republic | azcentral.com 12 p.m. MST May 11, 2016

Get a first look before the new location opens Monday

On Monday, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, one of the most famous purveyors of deep-dish pizza, will open up shop at Uptown Plaza, at Camelback Road and Central Avenue in Phoenix.

lou malnatis,pizza,phoenix,camelback,uptownI’m not sure I can defend it, but I sure do love it.

Deep-dish pizza lives at the intersection of brash decadence and pure gluttony.

Take the simple elegance of a Neapolitan pizza, Americanize it and jam it in a pan, then bury it under a pile of cheese and chunky tomato sauce and you have Chicago’s most famous contribution to the world pizza pantheon. Though short on sophistication, it’s a dish that’s long on pure joy.

And on Monday, May 16, Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, one of the most famous purveyors of deep-dish pizza, will start serving it in Phoenix, at Camelback Road and Central Avenue.

This is one of Chicago’s titans of deep dish, and the chain’s new restaurant at Uptown Plaza will be the 46th branch, but the first outside the greater Chicagoland area.

Though Pizzeria Uno is the first choice of tourists visiting Chicago, Lou Malnati’s always seemed to me the more widely respected establishment among locals, opened by and named for the son of Rudy Malnati Sr., former pizza chef at Uno. The Malnatis are among the first families of Chicago deep-dish pizza, and their claim to its creation is as credible as any other.

Why Phoenix? 

uptown plaza,midcentury,pizza,malnatis“We ship a lot of pizza to Phoenix,” says Mark Agnew, the president of Lou Malnati’s, who started working at the restaurant when he was 15. “We wanted a market where we felt like people know who we were.”

Malnati’s isn’t merely spreading its seed to the wind with a franchising agreement, as Pizzeria Uno did in the 1990’s with disastrous culinary consequences.

Rather, they’re keeping the business in the family, taking care to ensure the pizza at this Malnati’s is a fair representation of the pizza they serve back home.

  • All of the ingredients used at the Phoenix Malnati’s will be the same as those used in Chicago.
  • Five members of the Malnati’s management team have relocated to Phoenix.
  • Nearly half the staff has trained at the restaurants back East.

Perhaps most importantly, Malnati’s has chosen the fertile soil of a city awash with Chicago expats to plant its first remote location, hoping to draw the kind of ebullient crowds that welcomed Portillo’s to the Valley in 2013.

Early Malnati’s memories

For the record, my feelings about Portillo’s are somewhat reserved. Though a venerable Chicago institution, I think Portillo’s product is less superlative than it is consistently solid. But I have no such reservations when it comes to Malnati’s.

It wasn’t always this way. Growing up in Chicago, we were a Gino’s East family, routinely feasting on miraculous pies served from deep within the bowels of its original location, a graffiti-covered dungeon of a building just off Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. When we pulled up one day to discover the building razed and Gino’s relocated to the former home of a Planet Hollywood, we jumped ship and consoled ourselves in the embrace of a pizza that — if I’m being honest with myself — was probably a little better.

That was Lou Malnati’s deep dish. We never looked back.

A different look

The look of the Phoenix Malnati’s may surprise fans of some of the older locations.malnatis pizza,new,phoenix,uptown,restaurantsuptown plaza,phoenix,midcentury,pizza

“We try to be a local pizzeria,” Agnew explains. “Each of our restaurants looks different, and we try to fit in.”

That means embracing the Mid-century Modern style of Uptown Plaza’s renovation, complete with neon lights, aquamarine tiling, Fiestaware plates and Googie design. It also means welcoming local charities during an invitation-only soft opening to raise money for Chrysalis’ domestic violence shelters, Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock teen center and Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

The bright colors and wild look of the dining room are a far cry from the original Lou Malnati’s, which opened in Lincolnwood, Ill., in 1971. Folks new to Malnati’s won’t know the difference, but to trigger the nostalgia synapses of old-time Chicagoans, the food will need to carry the day.

What’s deep dish? 

We’re talking about a pizza that Jon Stewart famously denigrated as a “casserole.” Though it was meant as an insult, even as a fan of deep dish, it’s a characterization that I have a hard time refuting. We are, after all, talking about your choice of toppings mixed with an abundance of melted cheese and covered with a thick layer of bright, chunky tomato sauce, all stuffed into a dense, crunchy crust that’s buttery and — for reasons unknown — almost always undersalted.

In a national scene now dominated by Chris Bianco’s artfully crafted legacy, deep dish can seem like a dense, clumsy oaf of a pizza whose most compelling feature is its unashamed sense of abandon. But its coarse appearance belies the subtlety within. When it’s on, there is a beguiling, gooey charm in a slice of deep dish. Malnati’s, in particular, challenges the notion that a single slice can feed a family of six. It sure isn’t light, but two or three slices can slide right down a lot quicker than you might think.

In just a few days, families will begin lining up for a taste of Lou Malnati’s deep dish. Here’s hoping the famed pizza lives up to their expectations.

Details: Uptown Plaza, 100 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix. loumalnatis.com.

Scottsdale restaurant brings Italian concept to Collier Center in downtown Phoenix

Phoenix Business Journal
May 3, 2016, 8:24am MST Updated: May 3, 2016, 8:28am MST

Mancuso’s Restaurant – which has had Italian eateries in Kierland Commons and The Borgata in Scottsdale — is moving into the Collier Center development in downtown Phoenix.

Mancuso’s Restaurant at the Collier Center will open this summer in an 8,700-square-foot space previously occupied by Kincaid’s. That business-oriented restaurant closed last year.

Collier Center, Downtown Phoenix

Collier Center Downtown Phoenix

The location is located at Third and Washington streets in downtown Phoenix.

“The exciting growth of downtown Phoenix, with new businesses, new residents and visitors, plus increased activity at the Phoenix Convention Center, are all reasons now is the time to come downtown,” said Bobby Mancuso, president of Mancuso’s Restaurants, in a statement. “We are looking forward to bringing this vibrant part of the city our award-winning traditional Italian food, just as we did for 25 years at our former The Borgata of Scottsdale location.”

The Mancuso family has operated Italian restaurants in the Phoenix area for years. The Borgata location closed with the redevelopment of the retail complex into residential uses.

Another concept at Kierland Commons called Bobby’s Restaurant and Lounge had its last day on April 30 with the Mancuso’s moving onto a downtown concept.

Another new restaurant called The Park is also opening this summer at the Collier Center.

The Park is going into the former Stoudemire’s space. It is a food-truck food and craft beer concept and will include live music.

RED Development handles the leasing at the Collier Center.

RED also owns CityScape in downtown Phoenix and has brought popular restaurants and retailers into the Town & Country shopping center on Camelback Road and 20th Street.

Charles Skaggs, RED’s senior leasing broker at the Collier development, said the Mancuso’s and The Park are elevating the restaurant mix at the mixed-use development.

TOP THINGS TO DO FIRST FRIDAY IN THE DOWNTOWN CORE

First Friday In the Historic Downtown Phoenix Core

APRIL 28, 2016 BY FARA ILLICH

downtown phoenix,first friday

Roosevelt Row is the epicenter of all things First Friday, but sometimes venturing off the beaten path woven through Phoenix Historic Districts such as the Historic Roosevelt Neighborhood, can pay off in fun and unexpected ways. From free admission at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix to shopping in a shipping container, the Downtown Core offers some artsy, quirky and educational experiences Friday, May 6.

Skip out of work a little early or indulge in some retail therapy during your lunch break — it’s Friday after all. Stark James, the architecture and development firm behind Containers on Grand, have partnered with local t-shirt makers State Forty Eight to create a mobile, custom-made pop-up shop out of a shipping container, debuting for the first time 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Civic Space Park.

Load up the kiddos and head to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, which is open to the public free of charge every First Friday. Explore 48,000 square feet of hands-on learning, art displays and play areas fit for the whole family, including specific zones geared toward toddlers and preschoolers.

Exploring the Arizona Science Center after dark already feels special. Add in the fact that it’s adults-only and there’s booze — and you’ve got the perfect date-night adventure. Enjoy access to four-floors of science fun, signature cocktails and discounted access to Popnology, a special exhibition focused on pop culture-inspired technology. The lecture series “The Future of Transportation: An inside look on how future cars are designed, built and operated” starts promptly at 7 p.m., followed by a discussion on transportation innovation.

It’s an evening of art, creativity and neon lights hosted by “Walter,” the world’s largest Volkswagen bus. Located on the beautiful Herberger Theater patio, enjoy happy hour drink specials, snacks and kid-friendly options. Bring the whole family to explore this 1960’s-era converted firetruck, and learn about Walter Productions, the collaborative and whimsical maker group behind the Walter “art car.”

Located on the corner of Monroe Street and Third Avenue, the beautiful Grace Chapel (which is rarely open First Fridays) is home to Release the Fear, an arts-centered nonprofit working with at-risk youth. Not only does the organization teach art, music and communication skills to kids in detention, treatment centers and schools, but some of their fantastic artwork is featured on the gallery walls and historic alter.

The Step Gallery at Grant Street Studios is really an artistic marvel in and of itself. In a converted warehouse just south of the Downtown Core, this exhibit explores modern Americana through ceramic sculpture and video installations. “For Closure” addresses issues of income inequality, predatory financiers and oligarchical policymakers in a thought-provoking series by Jonah Amadeus. This is his MFA thesis work for the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and the show runs through May 8.

In a nearly 100-year-old former commercial laundry in the Warehouse District, the Bentley Gallery features gorgeous museum-quality exhibits in a variety of mediums. Whether it’s work on paper, metal or wood, the nine artists featured in “Off the Wall,” explore the relationships between color, form, the viewer, the wall, and the space in between. The exhibition, which runs through May 31, is all about the interplay of positive and negative space and the power of three-dimensional art.