The Autostrada Panini

Local Fave: Postino Wine Café – Central

District: North Central

Owners: Lauren and Wyatt Bailey; Craig and Kris DeMarco – Upward Projects (of Federal Pizza and Windsor)

Opened: 2009

Here’s The Deal:  While many of us are familiar with Postino’s Monday and Tuesday deal, did you know about the great deals you can get for lunch? Every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. they offer $5 glasses of wine (anything by the glass) and any pitcher of beer for $5!  Also, a majority of the menu is under $10 for a nice selection of sandwiches, salads, and combinations, including a half Panini with a side salad, or “soup of the moment” (today’s was chicken and wild rice).

Have a Seat:  Like many of the Upward Projects locations and concepts, you can sit at a great bar. This one has a double-sided seating section for guests to sit across from each other and engage in conversation. There is a nice window area for people watching along Central Ave and a beautiful covered patio with heaters and fireplaces that will keep you shaded but warm. Inside is bistro style area, with brick walls and racks of retail wines you can buy and take home.

The Concept:  Urban Projects is known for taking historic Phoenix buildings and turning them into new, updated neighborhood hangouts. This Postino’s location was originally home the Manhattan style Katz’s Deli. Urban Projects took over in 2009, keeping as much to the original building design as they could.  The rafters and overall layout will be familiar to the old timers while appealing to newer Phoenicians with the swanky, graphic décor, as is evident when you look around at the eclectic mix of people gathered for a busy lunch rush on a Wednesday afternoon.

The Eats:  The bruschetta will always be a successful staple but other stars on the menu include the Autostrada Panini served with a side of housemade organic chips.  The chips are crunchy and light, which is a great complement to the hefty sandwich on the plate.  Your choice of ciabatta or focaccia bread surrounds a pile of sopressatta, Italian ham, capicola, mortadella, provolone, arugula and tomatoes with spicy pepper relish.  This sandwich is nicely balanced with acid, pepper, and quality proteins.  It has a great zing from the ingredients that don’t leave you feeling heavy after eating one.  Another notable is the Italian picnic salad that has fresh, California roasted beets, goat cheese, bacon and walnuts, and adds some delightful texture with an array of crispy root veggies (beets, tarot chips, and sweet potatoes).  The herb vinaigrette is slightly sweet but adds depth with a variety of fresh herbs.

The Staff:  Eager to serve their guests, the staff seems to be able to handle volume with smiles and good knowledge of the menu. Ben Grissom, server, can educate diners on “Brent’s Pick,” a wine selection by resident wine merchant Brent Karlicek, which is featured on the menu and as wall décor with accompanying bottles of wine.  The staff also looks great in their uniform of the day (usually including a witty, Postino-centric t-Shirt) and they have great personalities to match. 

Report:  Postino’s will always be a go-to place for a good deal and quality food and beverage.  Labeled a wine café, it lives up to the name with great wine selection and a food menu that doesn’t feel overwhelming.  Come here to be comfortable in your surroundings, listen to some good music, laugh and enjoy your wine while being served by some of Phoenix’s best.  The owners should be proud to know that they have some of the best waitstaff you can find in the valley, no matter what location you might visit.