For some strange reason, people just canâ€™t believe that Phoenix has a very dynamic culinary scene. Whether it is Kai or Binkleyâ€™s or even some great Mom â€˜n Pop restaurants dishing out top notch Mexican food, Phoenix certainly has been blessed with a growing dining scene and lots of delicious food which seems to befuddle some people. The most famous restaurant in these parts is probably Pizzeria Bianco, not only because it was named as best pizza in the country, but also because people couldn’t believe that the best pizza in the country could be found in the desert.
Having been a big fan of pizza for many years, I was excited when I got a chance to have a pizza at Chris Biancoâ€™s famed eatery and it didnâ€™t fail to live up to the expectations I had for it. So, once you have had the best, can others at least provide a quality pizza that will bring some pleasure and excitement?
J. and I had heard a lot of praises about a new pizzeria in Scottsdale called Humble Pie. We discovered that it was housed in the Hilton Village which is the same complex on Scottsdale Road and MacDonald that plays host to a Good Egg and a Houstonâ€™s. Since we were going on a busy weekend night, I called to see if I could make a reservation for two at 8 PM and was pleased that it wasnâ€™t a problem.
Arriving at the location, we had to meander to the most northern part of the strip mall and were lucky enough to find parking right up front. The place was fairly busy and we were immediately escorted to our table. Our host handed us menus and said someone would be right with us.
J. and I immediately noticed the chalkboard near the stone pizza oven that listed much of the fresh and organic produce that was being served and the place of origin. With the exception of the fingerling potatoes, everything was from McClendon Farms.
Our server arrived and asked if we had any questions. We did ask for a few recommendations and our server has very happy to provide suggestions and answers. We were still mulling over the menu and so we requested two Diet Cokes ($2.50 each). Our server said she would get our beverages and then take our order.
Upon her return, we had decided. To start, we selected the Chilled Green Beans ($7.00) and the Crispy French Fries ($7.00). We then decided to split the Veggie Chopped Salad ($9.00). J. wanted the Wild Mushroom Pizza ($12.00) and I decided to go traditional and chose the Margherita Pizza ($10.00).
As we waited for the food to arrive, J. and I took in the minimalist atmosphere. The restaurant is one central dining room with a long bar on the west side of the space and the kitchen on the north and east sides. The majority of the rest of the space was housing plenty of tables. There was also a small patio outside for additional seating. There was very little in the way of decoration, and the bare, concrete floor amplified the noise, but we were still able to hear each other and hold a conversation.
Our Green Beans arrived and the beautiful beans were lightly coated in a creamy mustard sauce and sprinkled with coarsely chopped hazelnuts. The beans were tender crisp and the sauce was addictive. The addition of the hazelnuts was brilliant. The crisp beans, the crunchy nuts and the creamy sauce were a match made in heaven and we polished off the plate of beans in no time.
Next up to the table were the Crispy French Fries. The stack of shoestring fries was hot and crisp with garlic, fresh parsley, lemon zest and Pecorino cheese atop the stack. They were served with a small ramekin of ketchup and a aioli. The fries were excellent and the addition of the seasonings really enhanced the flavor. I did wish they had a bit more lemon zest and wanted more of the aioli and ketchup (the ramekins were just a bit small for this serving size of potatoes), but otherwise, we were glad we ordered these.
The Veggie Chopped Salad was a large plate of mixed greens, jicama, green beans, tomatoes and mozzarella all tossed with an herb vinaigrette dressing. The serving size was perfect for two people and we each took a few scoops for our small plates. The greens were cold and crunchy and the flavor combination was superb. The small slices of bread were piping hot and had a wonderfully earthy taste and a chewy texture (and big bonus points for the brushed on butter and oil). About the only drawback we saw was that the salad needed a couple of shakes of black pepper. It was at that moment we realized that there were no salt or pepper shakers on the table. Other than that, we found the salad a perfect lead in to the pizza.
Our pizzas arrived within minutes after finishing our salad. J.â€™s Mushroom Pizza was overflowing with a variety of mushrooms including crimini and shitake. I like mushrooms but J. loves them so this was a success in the making. I thought the mushroom pizza was very good, but was a bit overwhelmed by the mushrooms. While the number of mushrooms didnâ€™t appeal to me, any big mushroom lover like J. or my Dad would have found pure bliss in this pizza; and J. sure did.
My Margherita Pizza was absolutely stellar. The crust on our pizzas was soft and chewy, but also a bit crisp on the outer edges. It was a perfect vehicle for the sauce, cheese and basil. The tomato sauce was smooth and rich, but it didnâ€™t overwhelm the pizza. The mozzarella cheese was creamy and fresh and the basil leaves tasted straight out of the garden. It was a simple pizza made even better with the use of high quality ingredients. I would order this pizza again in a heartbeat.
After finishing off every scrap on our plates, we debated having dessert. Our server refreshed our memory of the dessert offerings on the menu and we decided to try the Olive Oil Gelato ($5.00). We werenâ€™t sure what it would entail, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Our server said the gelato was sweet cream gelato that is then infused with drizzles of olive oil
Within minutes, our server presented us with a frosted glass containing two scoops of Olive Oil Gelato. We both dove in and â€“ I am sure â€“ both had curious looks on our faces. The gelato was interesting and I had a hard time describing my thoughts to J. other than to say that it was exceptionally smooth and had a unique texture for gelato. The flavor did not have any olive oil taste that I could detect, but the sweet cream flavor was quite good. J. was not sure about the experience either. We didn’t know if we liked it or not, but we found we liked it better the more we ate. I wasnâ€™t sure I would order it again, but it was an experience to be had.
We requested the bill and the total was $59.37 which included tax. We thought this was a killer deal for the high quality of the food. The service was very attentive and friendly. I appreciated the fact that our server asked us what we thought of different things and how Humble Pie could improve. We mentioned the addition of black pepper to the salad and our thoughts on the gelato.
After paying the bill, we took the casual drive down MacDonald Road and into Arcadia. Our discussion centered on the meal and how exceptionally pleased we were with the meal. Of course, we couldnâ€™t pass up a comparison with Pizzeria Bianco. It is difficult to say how the two stack up without a real time side by side comparison. I will say, however, that J. and I thoroughly enjoyed the pizzas and I am very comfortable in saying that Humble Pie could give Pizzeria Bianco a run for its money. Again, however, I would want to do a side-by-side comparison.
Regardless of which would be the winner, Phoenix metro is blessed to have two great pizza restaurants.
Despite the non-believers, Phoenix’s dining scene continues to grow and succeed.
Even in the middle of a desert.
6149 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
Hours: Sunday through Thursday – 11 AM to 11 PM; Friday and Saturday – 11 AM to 2 AM
Notes: At the extreme north end of the Hilton Village.
Alcohol: Full bar.