Arcadia and Camelback Corridor Best Pizza – Part 2

One of my absolute favorite restaurants in the Camelback Corridor is Oregano’s Pizza Bistro. Not going to lie, it is my favorite for many reasons. Where to start? Well, one – it is, hands down, my favorite pizza! Two, it is owned by my favorite man AKA: my husband :). Three, well just read on…

Oregano’s is incredibly popular, with wait times sometimes reaching close to 2 ½ hours. Another reason I love it here? Oregano’s is the only place I know where you can have as much fun waiting as you do after you are seated. It’s true – you’ll find yourself making friends and enjoying pizza bites the Oregano’s staff share to tide you over while you wait.

Best Pizza Oreganosoreganos

An open kitchen allows you to see pizzas cooking in the vintage, two level pizza oven.

The atmosphere and staff make you feel at home from the moment you enter; wherever you are in Oregano’s you get a “hello” or “good bye” from everyone you pass (and a genuine smile!).

Owner Mark Russell has done what seems impossible – in each Orgeano’s he has created an atmosphere that is welcoming to everyone – from families to couples (they’ve even won the Best Restaurant in Phoenix for Date Night!). It’s truly all about the guest here. From the moment you park the car until you leave, having happy guests (whether they’re kids or adults) is the #1 priority.

You already know I love great food, so it should come as no surprise that I also love leftovers from my favorite restaurants. At Oregano’s the portion sizes are BIG and BIGGER, so you get enough food to take home and enjoy later.

Chicago, the owner’s hometown, is the inspiration for Oregano’s food and atmosphere. The antiques showcased in all the Oregano’s are a tribute to family and all are hand selected by the owner (for more about why each antique is treasured, click here). Mark owns all 13 Oregano locations throughout the Valley with additional restaurants slated to open in new Arizona locations in early 2014.

I could go on and on about my favorite restaurants, but I’ll save those for future blogs. If you haven’t had a chance to try out pizza from the places above, you’re welcome.

 

Advertisements

Best Pizza In Arcadia and Camelback Corridor

Let’s talk pizza – specifically let’s talk about the awesome pizza available in the Camelback Corridor and Arcadia.

Tommy V’s Osteria and Pizzeria has been a local icon for decades (yes, literally). Customers who know genuine Italian food rave about Tommy V’s, and they aren’t alone.

Tommy V’s is the sister restaurant to the upscale Tomaso’s (the restaurants are next to each other). While the atmosphere is more casual than Tomaso’s, the food, drinks, and service are on par with Tomaso’s. If you’ve never been to either of the restaurants, know that the service is outstanding!

Best Pizza Arcadia

Born in Italy, owner Chef Tomaso Maggiore makes frequent trips to Italy to maintain his “fresh approach to authentic Italian cuisine” (quote is from Tomaso’s website). For Tommy V’s, Chef Maggiore has poured his passion for fresh ingredients and superior flavors into a menu that offers a variety of affordable selections. The pizzas are cooked in a wood fired oven, and they taste incredible! Pizzas vary from the traditional (such as the Pizza Margherita) to the innovative – check out the Smoked Salmon pizza! Everything on the menu is great, so feel free to try any of them (or go often enough to try them all!). Let me know your favorite Tommy V’s menu item.

The Parlor Pizzeria has won numerous awards, including being awarded one of the best pizzas in the country (and the best in Arizona) by Food Network. From the moment you walk in the door, the atmosphere and decor lets you know this place is special.

One of the most talked about menu item is the “Duck Club” – people RAVE about it! As a vegetarian I can’t offer a personal opinion, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t tell you about it.

On to the pizza, though. The Parlor’s pizzas are cooked in a brick oven, and one of the most popular pizzas is the “Salsiccia” (a.k.a. the pizza that won over the Food Network). But really, you can’t go wrong with any of the pizzas on the menu – they’re all great!

And I’m not done – stay tuned for part 2 of this blog and read more about my favorite pizza places in Arcadia and Camelback Corridor. If I haven’t mentioned your favorite pizzeria let me know.

What else is there to love about Arcadia and Camelback Corridor? I put together a video about it! Check it out here.

*Photo of pizza is from http://theparlor.us/camera.htm

Camelback Corridor Farmers Markets

If you know me then you know I’m all about supporting our local community, and I love great food so Camelback Corridor Farmers Markets are the perfect pairing of both!

farmersHeld year round, the Town & Country Farmers’ Market takes place every Wednesday from 10 am to 2 pm at the Town & Country shopping center (20th Street & Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85016). In addition to locally grown produce (many of it organic) you’ll find locally sourced olive oils, chocolates, artisan breads, cheeses, and even hand-crafted jewelry.

All vendors at the Farmers’ Market at Camelback Esplanade (2425 East Camelback Rd.,
Phoenix, AZ 85016) are required to be the direct producers, or family members of the direct producers so you know you’re buying straight from the source. Most of the vendors farm organically or pesticide free. You’ll enjoy local produce and arts and crafts. This market reopens in the Fall, at which time it will take place each Friday, 9:30 am to 2 pm.

If you’ve been anywhere other than under a rock (ha!) then you’ve heard of Vincent’s Camelback Market – it is AWESOME! The hugely popular Saturday Camelback Market is held every Saturday, 9 am to 1 pm, October through May. If you’re traveled internationally you’ll appreciate the European feel to this market. Vincent himself, an iconic Valley chef, often presides over the Market, where you can taste a variety of mouth-watering creations (everything from made-to-order crepes to wood fired pizzas). I realize it is a little unfair to tempt you with this description when the Market isn’t open, but now you’ll have something to look forward throughout the hottest months – the return of Vincent’s Camelback Market!

Now, this next farmers’ market not only gives back to the Arcadia community, it was started by three Arcadia natives! Lovely ladies Gena, Sarah, and Katrina were raised in Arcadia, and went to Arcadia High School together. Now grown with children of their own, they started the Arcadia Farmers’ Market to “give back to the neighborhood and the Arcadia schools.” This market is held year round on Sundays, 8 am to 12 pm, at the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) parking lot (3811 North 44Th St. Phoenix, Arizona 85018).

Phoenix’s year round warm climate means we’re part of a select few places in the entire country who benefit from year round farmer’s markets! On one hand, in the summer it is so hot here heading outside to shop is probably not be on the top of your “to do” list. On the other hand, summer brings all those delicious summer fruits. Take advantage of these amazing Camelback Corridor Farmers’ Markets by shopping early – before it gets too hot and before everything is picked over (a win-win!).

I made a short video to go over more of what makes Arcadia and Camelback Corridor so awesome. You can view the video here.

Celebrate 4th Of July In Arcadia and Camelback Corridor

fireworksTime flies when you’re having fun and 4th of July is upon us – there are great ways to spend Independence Day right here in Arcadia!

Arcadia’s infamous Arcadia 4th of July parade is returning this year. The parade began when Arcadia local Johanna Boslin and her family members put flags in their neighbors’ front yards for Independence Day. One neighbor, Bud Katz, commented to Johanna that the flags were so beautiful that all that was missing was a parade. And with those words, the Arcadia 4th of July parade was born!

Whether you’re a spectator or participant the parade is worth it! Everyone is invited to let their creative side out, and you’ll enjoy seeing everything from pets to trikes to “parade floats.” The whole parade is super cute.

For fireworks, the Arizona Country Club has an AWESOME fireworks show every year! Non-members, don’t despair. Non-members gather in the street around the Club (56th & Thomas) to watch the show.

If you’re looking for an entire weekend of Independence Day activities for the whole family, you may want to consider a staycation at the nearby Arizona Biltmore. Activities start on 4th of July and extend throughout the next few days (July 4 – 7, 2013) – everything from outdoor movies next to the pool to cigar rolling classes, wine tastings to water balloon games are on the agenda.

If Independence Day finds you outside of Arcadia, each city in the Valley has their own fireworks display – you can find details on the official website for each city (but why leave Arcadia when everything you need for a great 4th of July is already right here?!).

Many Camelback Corridor restaurants and bars have 4th of July events and specials. On Independence Day at Chelsea’s Kitchen you buy one entrée and get the 2nd one for only $4. At La Grande Orange, enjoy 4 cent sangria! Last year Fox Concepts restaurants offered 25% off all day – so be on the lookout for that possibility.

Do you know of Arcadia and Camelback Corridor 4th of July activities/events that didn’t make it in to this blog? What Independence Day traditions do you and your family love? Please share by leaving me a comment. Wishing a happy and safe 4th of July to everyone – special thanks to veterans for your service.

Camelback Corridor Yoga Studios

Whether you’re a beginner or full-fledged yogi, there are several yoga studios in the Camelback Corridor to enjoy. If you’re new to living in the Corridor and are looking for a new yoga studio, the places below are great places to start.

yoga-clip-art-12

If you know me then you know my love of charming homes, and the Mariposa Longhouse is a truly charming, restored home turned into a community center that hosts yoga classes, artists, and even pop-up shops (since I’m supposed to be focusing on yoga I’ll save the pop-up shops for another blog – stay tuned!). Class options include everything from Vinyasa to restorative yoga.

Not sure about sharing your yoga sanctuary with pop-up shops? No worries – there are still options galore. If you’re new to yoga and want to try out different types of classes or you are an advanced yogi that likes to vary your yoga workouts, CoreBalance Studio in Camelback Corridor offers a variety of yoga classes. The instructors here are very welcoming to new students, and the warm atmosphere is almost as relaxing as the Yin yoga. One of the things I really like about CoreBalance is that as well as yoga classes, they also have barre and spin classes (they even bring in a live DJ for spin classes on Monday and Wednesday nights!). When friends are looking for a great yoga studio but don’t want to give up cardio class options available from a gym, I recommend they check this place out.

One of my absolute favorite yoga studios is Madison Improvement Club (known as “Madison” or just “the Club” to most). What’s not to love about a place with the tag line “Let The Party Begin”?! Madison is right in the heart of Arcadia with yoga, spin classes, AND a café (with yet another fabulous tag line – “Get Ready To Be Addicted” – so true)! I could go on and on about the things I love about this place, but you’ll have your own reasons for falling in love with it when you go (psst – come back and let me know).

Not for the faint of heart is the ever popular Bikram yoga (a.k.a. “hot yoga”). This is where I head when I want to be a wet duck (ha!). At this time of year you may wonder if you could just do yoga outside and get the same results, but I would still recommend trying out Sumits Yoga Biltmore. Enthusiastic instructors help you move through the classes, and allow everyone to move at their own pace (definitely important in the challenging hot yoga experience). I also find this space beautiful – the wood floors are lovely (which you’ll especially enjoy if you need to take a break from the heat and catch your breath in “child’s pose” for a while).

The Village (Camelback location, of course) has some awesome yoga classes! When I’m not at Madison, or sweating it out at Sumits I’m enjoying the yoga here J. For those that want the convenience of a gym and yoga studio all at one place, you need to head here! In addition to the great gym facilities, extensive list of classes (not just yoga – think spin, zumba, pilates, etc.), the amenities abound here (that sounds like a hotel ad, but if you’ve been to the Village you know what I’m talking about).

As usual, this isn’t an all-inclusive list – there are many great Camelback Corridor yoga studios. These are some I recommend to friends for the same reasons I listed above. Where do you practice yoga? Have a favorite yoga teacher? Let me know! I always love hearing about other yoga studios to check out in Camelback Corridor – its one of the many reasons I love living in the Corridor!

 

Camelback Corridor and Arcadia Wine Bars

Arcadia has a plethora of wine bars! Friends are always asking me for Arcadia wine bar recommendations so I figured I would include some on here too. Whether looking for a cozy spot for date night or a fun atmosphere for girls night out, Arcadia & Camelback Corridor wine bars have something for everyone.

Probably one of the best known area wine bars is Postino WineCafé (most people just say “Postino’s”), but be careful when making plans to meet friends that you specify which location you’re meeting at (there are a few in the Valley). History buffs will appreciate knowing the Arcadia Postino is housed in the old Arcadia (1950s-era) Post Office. In patio weather garage doors swing up and double the socializing space (I was going to say the doors “let the outside in” but figured that sounded too much like a home decorating show). The atmosphere is vibrant, especially on weekends so this is a great place to meet friends and socialize with neighbors.

Sportsman’s Fine Wine & Spirits is not only a retail wine store, they also have a wine bar. If you’re wanting to try out new wines, you’ll like being able to do so at the wine bar. I’m always impressed with how knowledgeable the staff is. This is a great wine bar to try a sampling of wines paired with delectable food from their menu (consider letting the staff suggest pairings or simply “surprise you” – I’ve had great experiences doing both).

Those of you who know me may be surprised to find “Chick Rotisserie & Wine Bar” in this blog (I’m a vegetarian). While the food menu can be a bit meat-centric for those of us non-meat-eaters, I will admit they know a little something about vino and the wine selections tower (literally) impressively.

Central Bistro is modern with great outdoor seating. Their wine list is well done, and their food menu pairs wonderfully (they have French and Italian foods). The happy hour menu is fantastic – great food, and many are less than $5. They are known for having wonderful service. This is a great Camelback Corridor wine bar to enjoy wine before moving on to a more complete dinner there, or simply take advantage of their nice seating and enjoy conversation and drinks with friends. Their food and alcohol are farm-to-table, which I really enjoy and appreciate.

This is isn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list of Camelback Corridor wine bars – there are so many to enjoy! If you haven’t been to any of the above, add them to your “to try” list. What Arcadia wine bars are your favorites? Which are still on your “to try” list? Leave me a note – I love sharing Arcadia recommendations and receiving them!

Hiking Camelback Mountain Offers Good Workout & Stunning Views

One of the (many) great things about living in Camelback Corridor is the convenient access to Camelback Mountain and its hiking trails.

Camelback Mountain is among the most recognizable parts of the Phoenix skyline, and holds the record for the city’s highest point. Being the highest point in the city gives a clue as to why the Camelback Mountain hiking trails are such a great workout.

There are two main hiking trails for Camelback Mountain – Echo Canyon Trail and Cholla Trail.

camelback mountain hikes

Echo Canyon Trail is more popular and approximately 1.2 miles each way. The Cholla Trail is not as steep and slightly longer at approximately 1.6 miles each way. The two trails join at the top of Camelback Mountain, so it is possible to hike up one trail and back down the second trail (just remember this makes for a much longer hike back to your car). Depending on who is doing the rating, both of these trails are considered moderate to strenuous hikes.

Echo Canyon Trail is currently closed and scheduled to reopen in Fall 2013. When the Echo Canyon Trail renovation is complete we’ll enjoy a renovated trail, new parking, and added mountain access. While Echo Canyon is closed you can still hike Cholla Trail.

Don’t let the current closure of Echo Canyon Trail dissuade you from hiking Camelback Mountain. The stunning 360 degree views at the top are absolutely worth the hike!

I’ve lived in Arcadia for decades and am a regular Camelback Mountain hiker, so let me share a few tips about hiking Camelback:

Hike early! Summer is fast approaching, and we’ve already hit three digit temperatures. Phoenix doesn’t cool off in summer evenings so the best time to hike is early morning. Early is the key term here because it is hot by 8 a.m. during the summer.

Bring lots of water and a few snacks.

Dogs (leashed) are allowed on Camelback trails. With summer bearing down on us take special consideration for your furry family members. The trails are rocky (keep in mind how quickly the rocks get hot) so consider paw protection (yes, I’m talking about shoes for your dog) if your dog’s paws are sensitive. Bring extra water for your dog (my dogs are also fans of the foldable, travel dog bowls for lapping up water on the go).

Parking can be a frustrating experience. If you’re not one of the lucky Camelback Corridor residents who live within walking distance of the trails, hitting the trails during less busy times (weekends are busier than weekdays) can help some with parking. It doesn’t help us in the current moment, but we can look forward to nicer parking options when the Echo Canyon renovation is complete.

Stay on the marked trails. This is even more essential now with Echo Canyon trail closed.

Last, but definitely not least, remember to take a moment to soak up the stunning views when you’ve reached the top of Camelback Mountain. Enjoy!

Hiking Camelback Mountain is just one of the many Camelback Corridor activities I enjoy. Leave me a comment below to share your own Camelback Mountain hiking tips and other hiking trails in the Camelback Corridor area that you like.