Review: Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana - Scottsdale, AZ (w/ photos!!!)
It had been a while since I got a chance to dine with Eric from “Eric Eats Out,” another Valley food blog. We had done a joint review of Havana Cafe back in 2009 and J. and I ran into him and his wife and family at the Chompie’s in Paradise Valley Mall, but other than through Twitter or email, we hadn’t had a chance to get together for a meal. We finally got a chance and ended up at Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana at the Borgata in Scottsdale.
Eric had good things to say about the place and Pomo had been certified as serving authentic Neapolitan style pizza from Verace Pizza Napoletana Americas. So, we met at the entrance to Pomo and were immediately escorted to a table/booth combination and handed menus.
The interior was spacious, open and subdued with black and wood tones throughout and lots of indirect lighting. The noise level was a bit on the high side, but nothing that was crushing to our conversation.
Eric was hankering for one of the Paninis on the menu, but was told they only serve them at lunch. Eric was heartbroken, but he took it in stride and decided to have a pizza. After reviewing the menu for a bit, we had made our decisions. When the server arrived, she was very engaging and we could tell she really was very keen on the food that Pomo creates. She took our drink order. I had a Diet Coke ($2.50) while Eric had an Iced Tea ($2.50) and a glass of Chianti ($9.00).
Moments later, our drinks arrived and we were ready to order dinner. Eric and I decided to split the Romana Salad ($8.95), the House version of a Caesar salad. Eric went with the Don Alfonso Pizza ($14.95) and I went with the Parma Pizza ($16.95).
We didn’t wait very long before our salad arrived. It was a sizable portion for two and it looked great with all of the shaved cheese sitting on top of the greens. We each took a couple of spoonfuls for our plates and dove in. We both immediately declared that this salad was boring. The taste was completely subdued on all counts. While the greens were crisp, they lacked any flavor and the dressing was so mild I doubt even doubling the amount would have changed anything. The menu listed the ingredients as Romaine Lettuce, Home Made Croutons, Parmigiano Reggiano, Black Pepper, and Sea Salt but I was trying to find the seasoning on this salad. Even the cheese was one dimensional. Eric said it was mundane and I was particularly disappointed because a Caesar Salad – even in a House version – should have a bit of a tang to it and some sharp flavors. This just underwhelmed and I was hoping this didn’t indicate how the pizzas were going to be.
Although we both gave the salad a big “meh,” we were very pleased when our pizzas arrived. Eric’s Don Alphonso Pizza looked delicious with its slightly charred crust, silky white mozzarella, and slices of salami and Italian sausage. The bits of roasted red pepper also sparkled on the pie. Eric dove in with a knife and fork and offered me a small slice. He said he found the crust to be nicely chewy as well as having a great flavor. He said the toppings “tasted of quality” and said there was nothing second rate about his pizza on any level. I agreed with his assessment. The pizza was fabulous. It was salty, savory and the roasted peppers added just enough sweetness to balance out the flavors. It was stellar in every way.
My Parma Pizza was very attractive. A large pie with a blistering crust was cover in a thin layer of tomato sauce, slices of mozzarella cheese, Prosciutto, plenty of Arugula, and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. It was a feast fit for a king. I also headed for the knife and fork and attacked my pizza. It was fantastic. The crust was spot on and the ingredients were substantial and delicious. The arugula was very fresh and crisp and added a wonderful peppery dimension. I was very pleased that they didn’t skimp on the toppings. There was plenty of Prosciutto and cheese. I offered Eric a slice, but he declined saying he had had the Parma before and enjoyed it. I had a great time savoring this pizza and would have it again with out a doubt.
As we finished our meals, Eric ordered the Regina Margherita Pizza ($11.95) for his wife who was at home tending to some sick kiddies. So, we chatted while we waited for the bill and the pizza to go. Once both arrived, the total was $72.78 including tax which covered two drinks, a glass of wine, a large salad and three pizzas. It was well worth the cost as the quality was top notch. The service was excellent as well. It was nice to see a server excited about the food and I can see why, although they do need to work on the Romana Salad.
Of course, I know a lot of people will immediately ask how Pomo compares to Pizzeria Bianco. To be honest, I can’t make that comparison as I haven’t been to Bianco’s in over two years. However, I can unequivocally state that I would go back to Pomo for pizza in a flash. The pies are superb and the numerous options for pizza will allow me lots of return visits without getting bored.
All in all, this was a great pizza, a solid meal, and a great time with Eric.
Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana
6166 North Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
Dress: Scottsdale Casual. Botox optional.
Hours: Sunday through Thursday – 11 AM to 9 PM; Friday and Saturday – 11 AM to 10 PM
Notes: Online reservations available (and advisable).
Alcohol: Full bar with an extensive wine list.
Additional photos can be found at www.feastinginphoenix.com .
623 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004
1160 E University Dr, Tempe, AZ 85281
We made it to Pomo while in town over Thanksgiving week, and quite enjoyed it. The basic pizzas are definitely the strong suit here, with everything else fine, but not stellar.
The crust is really outstanding, puffy, soft, salty, and charred. Properly simple, high-quality San Marzano tomatoes; I'll quibble that I prefer a puree to their rougher crush, as I think the crushed tend to weigh down the pizza and make it go soggy too quickly. Both the Fior di Latte mozzarella and, somewhat surprisingly, the imported mozzarella di buffala, were fresh, sweet, and very creamy. I'll also quibble that on my margherita, the basil was baked into the pizza instead of added after; I prefer the bite and crunch of fresh basil to the cooked alternative.
The place was a zoo, and while the staff tried their darnedest to keep up, they were periodically defeated by the chaos. Took a long time to place our order; our first dish showed up virtually immediately after we ordered it; the wine showed up a while later; then other dishes showed up at staggered, non-ideal intervals.
Really nice, affordable, boot-heavy wine list, with a lot of markups only in the 100% range. Dozens of good choices in the $20s and $30s, with almost nothing north of $100. Food prices reasonable too for the quality, with most pizzas spanning the $10s. Decor was remarkable only in its unremarkableness, kind of generic Scottsdale midscale save for the giant black and white photo of Naples occupying one entire wall.
I'll go ahead and stick my neck out and take a stab at the Dreaded Bianco Question:
Pomo's margherita is good enough that some people, myself included, will prefer it to the Bianco version; I think Bianco's is just a tick too salty and greasy. On the other hand, overall I think Pomo is dragged down by its long, unfocused menu; they have too many pizzas and other items to make them all well, and as good as the basic pizzas were, there was way more mediocrity floating around than there should have been. This stands in sharp contrast to the laser-focused Bianco; how many menu items are there total...10? And they're all excellent, with the [still excellent] pizza margherita being perhaps the least good thing on the menu (personally, I'm a sucker for the Wiseguy).
I also think it's worth noting that more holistically, Pomo and Bianco really occupy two opposite poles on the spectrum of "real Italian cooking". Pomo is using 20th century-style largess to bring Naples to Phoenix, importing as many ingredients directly from Italy as possible. Bianco, on the other hand, is using the Italian *philosophy* of finding, growing, or making great quality local ingredients, and then preparing them with a very light hand. Bianco was locavore over a decade before the term had been coined, not out of dogma, but out of Chris Bianco's belief that this was the way to deliver the very best product he could.
So to sum up, if all I want is a top-notch pizza margherita or other simple, Neapolitan pie, I think Pomo is as good as or better than Bianco. But overall, Bianco is still a special, unique restaurant that Pomo doesn't even approach. As to whether Bianco is 3+ hours' wait better than Pomo, well, I'm going to punt. Tough to qualify, damn near impossible to quantify. As far as I'm concerned, I think Phoenix is very, very lucky to have both of them.
Obviously just one hound's opinion here, but to be perfectly frank, I find Cibo to be a very, very distant third when competing against Bianco and Pomo. The ingredients are perceptibly lower quality, from the crust to the sauce to the cheese to the other toppings. It's also not really a fair contest, in that as far as I can tell, Cibo isn't really striving to be authentically Neapolitan; it's as much California-style as Italian-style. One thing strongly in Cibo's favor is the outdoor seating area, which is without question a lovely spot for dinner.
603 N. 5th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 850103
Nice review, particularly your comments comparing Bianco and Pomo. I'm a fan of Pomo, but basically just for their margherita. I agree that other things on the menu are not as good. In December we went to San Francisco and had the same kind of pizza at Tony's in North Beach. We felt Pomo was better. I think we are lucky to have Pomo here in PHX.
For me, Pomo's margherita is very very good and its nearly effortless to get it. The wait and effort it takes to eat at Bianco, to me, is ridiculous. I'd not wait that long for any food, no matter how good. So for me, Pomo wins hands down. I understand and respect why people like Bianco, I just happen to feel differently.
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Looks like I'll need to give Pomo another shot...first time service was terrible (took 15 minutes to get greeted even after flagging someone down 10 minutes in) and pizza was overly soggy. To be fair I was there the first week they were open though. Glad to hear they're getting their act together although from the reviews I'm going to stick to the pizza and not the salads.
So good to see you posting again. Thank you for the review. Have not been, but will now put it on the list.
PS - if the NOLA trips materializes, I have some new spots for you.