Review: Lisa G Cafe Wine Bar - Phoenix (w/ photos!)
When J. and I had a rather wonderful meal at Trente-Cinq 35 in Central Phoenix last year, we were curious as to the small converted house across the parking lot sporting the name “Lisa G.” Just who was this Lisa G and why does she have a wine bar?
Unfortunately, the place was closed for a vacation period so we couldn’t get our questions answered, but I made a mental note to get over to Lisa G’s someday.
As fate would have it, Winedubar was dying to get back to Lisa G for a seafood salad and a nice meal out. So, we set up plans to meet at Lisa G. Winedubar was waiting for me at the wine bar when I entered and we were quickly seated at a two-top table. They place was very full and the noise level was high, but we settled in and I showed her my favors for the wedding which garnered a hearty approval.
We ordered two Green Ice Teas ($2.75 each) and reviewed the menus. After some discussion, Winedubar decided to go with her beloved Fruitti Di Mare ($11.00) and I wanted the Mini Sandwiches ($9.00). We also decided to split some appetizers and agreed to try three things: the Brie ($9.00), the Mixed Bruschetta ($9.00) and the Bowl of Balls ($9.00).
When our server returned with our drinks, we placed our order. Our server warned us that the portion size was fairly large so we would have plenty to eat and, perhaps, take home. That was fine with us.
We were in the midst of discussing Wine’s trip to Paris and London and I was seething with envy. That was when our Prosciutto Bruschetta arrived. The elongated plate held three ample bruschetta rounds piled high with prosciutto, greens and an olive tepenade. While it looked beautiful, we noticed that all the rounds were the same and not the mixed platter as we had requested.. We brought this to the attention of the server and it seemed that the noise level in the restaurant caused a miscommunication. Our server was apologetic and offered to fix the order, but we were fine.
Although the bruschetta was good, it just seemed rather boring. The various components each looked like they could make a wonderful mix, but the final product was simply underwhelming. We wish we could have put our finger on what made this miss the mark, but there it was, so we moved on.
Next up was Lisa’s Bowl of Balls. This small bowl was packed with several dense, tender and sinfully delicious meatballs made of veal, beef, eggs and parsley. They were soaking in a rich tomato sauce and served with a nice, thin slice of Parmesan and a wedge of focaccia. The meatballs were absolutely wonderful. It was a fantastic appetizer and the addition of the cheese and bread were excellent sides to help cut some of the richness of the meatballs. Just outstanding.
The final appetizer was the Brie. The visual feast of this dish was the first thing that told me that this was going to be a success. Rustic Italian bread was layered with slices of brie and topped with sliced green apples and dried cranberries. The entire top was drizzled with honey and the whole thing was caramelized. Simple, substantial and the best thing on the table. This was a killer dish. Winedubar and I were battling over the crumbs. It just worked on so many levels and I think what changed the dish from good to stellar was the fact that the top had been caramelized. That just sealed everything into a flavor explosion. This more than made up for the lackluster bruschetta.
Wine’s Fruitti Di Mare was incredible. The plate was littered with an ocean of calamari, shrimp, scallops and crab, all in very generous portions. The seafood was piled up on bright green leaves of bibb lettuce and dressed in a light but tangy lemon thyme vinaigrette. Winedubar was in heaven and raved about the dish. “I live for this, you know,” she said. Although I am not a big seafood eater, I was impressed with the salad. It was an absolute steal for $11.00 and I thought the presentation was very pretty with the glistening seafood and the strong scent of lemon wafting from the dish.
My Mini Sandwiches were served on a long rectangular plate and evenly spaced over the dish. Three mini round ciabattas were piled with three different fillings: the beef tenderloin, the sliced peppered turkey and the chicken salad. The beef tenderloin sandwich contained sliced beef and a garlicky mayo with a few greens. The turkey was similarly dressed. The chicken salad was a nice mix of chicken chunks, celery and hazelnuts in a mayo base. All of them were very good, but the stand out was the chicken salad. I wouldn’t hesitate having these again.
By the time we finished, we had polished off just about everything, although we did have one of the bruschettas left to take home. We were stuffed to the gills and couldn’t even be talked into sharing a dessert. Then, we were surprised when our server indicated that due to the miscommunication over the bruschetta, she was deducting a few bucks off the bill. Completely unnecessary but a wonderful act of customer service.
Our bill was $52.53 including tax (minus the $4.00 comp). Winedubar and I thought this was a complete steal. I still can’t see how they are making any money off of the Fruitti Di Mare, but all I cared about was seeing a smile on Winedubar’s face as she munched on that salad, even though I was loathing her for going to Europe without me.
We paid the bill, said our goodnights and I headed home.
I so wish I hadn’t waited so long to get to Lisa G.
Lisa G Cafe and Wine Bar
2337 North 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006
Dress: Resort Casual
Hours: Monday - 11 AM to 2 PM; Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - 11 AM to 2 PM and 5 PM to 10 PM; Friday - 11 AM to 2 PM and 5 PM to 12 AM; Saturday - 5 PM to 12 AM; Closed Sundays.
Notes: Parking can be scarce.
Alcohol: Full bar.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com
Lisa G Cafe Wine Bar
2337 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85006
Nice report as always, Seth. I love that place! Lisa has a passion and it shows (tastes good, too). I've only been several times, always for lunch, and I don't get downtown so often anymore and when I do I have to make my pilgrimages to other favorites like That's a Wrap, Pane Bianco, Chico's, Calabria, Pino's, Blue Fin ... I'm a fish-eating dude and although I usually won't waste a precious meal on a ... uh ... salad ... I may have to change my mind since I'm still quaking, quivering and slobbering over that marvelous photo ... but how will I ever tear myself away from the balls (best in town, BTW) or the three sandwiches? Sigh ... asi es la vida (another good eating place in the hood) ...