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Jan 26, 2010 12:43 PM

Solo dinner in Glendale, AZ

Hi Chowhounders,
I'm visiting from San Diego, and I need to find a spot to eat in/near Glendale, AZ tonight. I'm dining solo, so in addition to looking for a great meal in a relatively safe neighborhood, I'm looking for a place that won't make me feel like a loser while I'm enjoying my meal. :o)

I'm at Glendale Road exit off 101, and some quick searching of this board has indicated La Piazza Al Forno might be a good option, but Yelp gives it some very mixed reviews.

I like pretty much all kinds of foods (except maybe raw vegetarian), which probably both helps and hurts in terms of recommendations. But I'm hoping that by the time I get back from my meeting this afternoon, I'll have some fun options to consider!
thanks in advance -

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  1. Al Forno is a good choice. I also really like Siam Thai Cuisine, near 51st Avenure and Northern, and Little Saigon which is just a couple blocks away from Al Forno. If you're down for a Southeastern Asia fix, those places can fit the bill. None of these places is really located in the safest of neighborhoods, of the three, Siam probably has the scariest immediate surroundings. LS and PAF are in the downtown Glendale area that is well lit and has enough people around that you should feel safe there.

    Little Saigon
    7016 N 57th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301

    Siam Thai Cuisine
    5008 W Northern Ave # 1, Glendale, AZ

    La Piazza Al Forno
    5803 W Glendale Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301

    1 Reply
    1. re: drobe30

      drobe30, thanks for your reply! I wanted to write back to let you and the other 'hounders know that I went ahead and ate at Al Forno, and i had a great time/dinner. I'm filing a review in case anyone is interested...

      Atmosphere: it has a slightly strip-mall feeling inside, although they managed a sidewalk-side patio out front. No one was sitting outside tonight, but it was fairly busy inside, for a Tuesday evening. I sat at the counter, where you could see some of the kitchen and had a side view of the wood-burning brick oven. The restaurant is neat and clean. And it's a great place for a solo dinner because of that counter - you can watch the pizzas come in and out of that oven, which was good entertainment for a food voyeur like myself.

      Food: I ordered a Margherita pizza (San Marzano tomatoes, house-made mozzarella, basil) with prosciutto. The crust was thin and a bit floppy at the tips of the pieces, but was nicely chewy. The prosciutto completely obliterated the flavor of the mozzarella, which is my fault for ordering it, but I will say the guy did not skimp on any of the ingredients. The tomatoes were delicious - well, heck, the whole pizza was delicious. Just after I ordered my pizza, a guy came to sit at the counter, and offered to share salad and a dessert if I'd share my pizza. Done deal! The spinach salad had a bacon balsamic vinaigrette that was a bit heavy-handed for my taste. There was also feta cheese on there - quite moist and mild. It was plenty of salad for sharing. We had a cheesecake for dessert, which was made by the wife of the owner/chef who makes the pizzas. It was on the lighter side, and very cream-cheesy, which is a good thing in my book. A great way to end the meal, so here's a thank-you to my new friend David who engineered the sharing.

      Service: The complaints on Yelp are mostly about the service, and I will say it's pretty casual service. The ladies who helped us were very nice, but let's just say they weren't breaking any land-speed records. It's a family restaurant, and if quick, efficient, and/or pampering service is really important to you, this is not your spot. I did completely fine tapping into the family restaurant vibe and focused on the food, which offers plenty to enjoy.

      Just for your reference - I am visiting the Phoenix area from San Diego, and I moved to SD from Connecticut about 3.5 years ago. I love San Diego dearly, but it has been a struggle for us to find a good pizza there - we miss the New York/New Haven style pizzas from CT. I don't know how well the pizza at Al Forno would fare as take-out, but from my dining-in experience, it kicks the butt of nearly all of the pizzas I've tried in SD.

      Finally, a quick report on the neighborhood and feeling safe - there was good street parking around the corner (which was taken/full) and across the street (which was plentiful) from the restaurant. The streets were well-lit, and I felt completely comfortable there.

      La Piazza Al Forno
      5803 W Glendale Ave, Glendale, AZ 85301