During an Arizona trip last week to visit relatives and take in a Fab Faux concert, I took the time to tour some of Scottsdale’s many wine bars. The place oozes with them, from hoity-toity to down & dirty. Should you find yourself in the Phoenix area—it’s only an hourlong flight from here—you might like these sips of Scottsdale: Imagine this: You walk into a wine bar/restaurant. You plop down on a comfy sofa out on a sunny patio with a warm breeze. No one tries to sell you a club membership. You order a glass of wine and no one insists that you buy food with it. You’re not in Utah anymore. In fact, you’re at the Olive & Ivy Restaurant Marketplace (FoxRC.com/Olive_Ivy) located on the Scottsdale Waterfront (yes, there’s water in Scottsdale). Olive & Ivy has a Mediterranean vibe and very friendly, knowledgeable servers. We ordered a bottle of Woop Woop Aussie Chardonnay which, frankly, we didn’t much like. Our server happily offered to replace it with something else, which wound up being Sokol Blosser Evolution, a white wine blend of nine different grapes that pairs nicely with fusionstyle cuisine like the tuna tartar with red chile caramel at Olive & Ivy. Next stop was AZ Wine Company (AZWineCo.com). What a great concept: A wine bar—Atlas Bistro—within a wine store! Imagine pushing your shopping cart through aisle after aisle of worldly wines while sipping on wine from the Atlas Bistro wine bar. Brilliant. If you get hungry for something exotic, you can order takeout from Caribbean Fusion Restaurant & Bar, just a couple doors down. It’ll give you a chance to hone your curried goat pairings.
Good God Almighty … The wine list at Kazimierz Worldb Wine Bar (KazBar.net) is a stunner. It’s the first I’ve ever seen that contains a prologue.
There are five pages—somewhere around 200 different selections—of bubbly alone. The wine list itself is 128 pages long. Yikes! The underground wine cellar must run halfway to Flagstaff. There are also a boatload of wine flights to choose from in the dark (you need a flashlight to read the wine list) cavern-like Kazimierz, which has a secret off-street entrance. It’s almost as if they don’t want you to find the place. That seemed to be the case with our server, a young, knockout, model-looking type who seemed like she’d be much happier walking on a runway than working at a wine bar. Her response to my wife’s question of “Can you tell me about these wines?”—referring to an Italian flight of Insolia, Favorita and Vermentino—was a shrug and a snarky, “What do you want to know?” Well, screw snobby Kazimierz, ’cause we also found the friendliest wine bar in Scottsdale, albeit the one with the smallest wine list. North Scottsdale’s Centro Paninoteca (CentroPaninoteca.com) is a cute, cozy cafe with a small patio and a big, warm welcome.
The owners were actually painting and remodeling when we arrived on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But although the place was closed, Chicago-born co-owner Steve Herri invited us to grab a patio table, sip wine and befriend his cute Yorkshire Terriers, Bode and Payson. Steve is an enthusiastic and gregarious guy. As we sipped glasses of delicious Stival Pinot Grigio from Italy, he brought us a delectable gratis plate of bruschetta. Don’t let the diminutive size of the wine list at Centro Paninoteca of the size of the space put you off. This place has a big, big heart. CW