3939 E Campbell Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85018
These days there is a very fine line between hip and pretentious and an even finer line between hip and hipster. Postino Winecafe is walking the tightrope, no doubt. The interior of this see and be seen establishment looks a lot like a loft space with exposed brick exterior walls and bold primary colored interior walls. Oddly placed wine racks separate bar tables from dinner tables with a lounge area far left and a bar on the back wall.
This was my second trip to Postino, well my third, if you count driving to the downtown location only to be told my party wasn’t there. Postino Arcadia isn’t particularly easy to find, even when one's on the righ track. It’s tucked behind La Grande Orange Grocery (which faces 40th) on Campbell, but the sign isn’t well lit and there’s no parking aside from valet ($3).
Our party of four waited for about twenty minutes at the bar before being seated. The wait wasn’t bad for prime time on a Saturday night, but the bar tender was a bit of a jerk. The woman I arrived with and I are in our thirties with a slew of degrees. If I wanted to be referred to as “girls,” well, I’d be in a different line of work. Still, the Bellini ($5) he made me was great and he was much nicer to my husband and his friend who joined us later and the three of them knowledgably discussed the beer selection.
While there are some very attractive, over-dressed women in four inch heels, the crowd at Postino avoids both pretension and hipster, but just barely.
When we got a table, we perused the menu, which is a bit limited, featuring mostly Panini and salads with a daily soup. There is a limited appetizer menu (mostly antipasti) and a good selection of Bruschetta, which come on a plank with a choice of four of the eleven offerings ($12.75). Each is cut into four, making them perfect to share.
We ordered the Fresh Mozzarella with Tomato and Basil; the Burrata, Bacon, Arugula, and Tomatoes; the Prosciutto with Figs and Mascarpone; and the Tomato Jam and Fresh Sheep’s Milk. The last is my favorite. I’m not sure how to describe “Tomato Jam” other than to say it’s quite sweet and goes perfectly with sheep’s milk. My husband and one of our friends snarffed down the Prosciutto, fig, Mascarpone, commenting that the sweet and salty was great together.
For dinner we each ordered a variation on the “Select Two” which offers a choice of half a Panini, any side salad, or a cup of soup ($9.50). I got the vegetarian Panini (humus, cucumber, roasted yellow tomato, olives, greens, tomatoes, and artichoke spread) and the Italian Picnic Salad (greens, roasted beets, goat cheese, bacon walnuts with crisped root vegetables, and vinaigrette). There was overlap in what we ordered, but there was also a Mediterranean Salad (think Greek salad), a Tuna Panini, and a Chicken and Mozzarella Panini on the table
I have to say, I’m not a fan of the artichoke Bruschetta at Postino, but the artichoke spread on the Vegetable Panini coupled with the humus is really nice. My friend commented that she felt like her sandwich (we ordered the same thing) had too much olive oil on it—I didn’t feel that way. My chief complaint was that the kitchen was out of Ciabatta and the Focaccia was really salty. I was happier with my salad. There was goat cheese and beets. Enough said. But seriously, the “crispy root vegetables,” not that I could determine what they actually were, made the dish.
My partner wasn’t horribly impressed with his Panini, the Chicken and Mozzarella, calling it “simple.” I noticed the Tuna Panini went largely uneaten, though I didn’t press on why or try it.
The service was also less than impressive. The first time I was in Postino I was with a huge party and thought that was the problem. This time, with only four people, I realized the service is, in fact, the problem. Our server, who was actually a nice guy when he stopped to talk to us, had to be cajoled into taking our orders at each step of the way and my water glass was empty most of the evening (why there are big water glasses at the bar, but not on the tables, I have no idea). I suspect the leisurely approach to service is because most people at Postino come to hang out and enjoy the scenery with the food being secondary. I rarely rank food as a secondary priority.
What you might notice conspicuously absent from this review of a wine cafe is a discussion of the wine list. That’s because glasses start at $8 with anything I would want to drink in the $10 range and I’m cheap. The beer selection is more reasonable. I should mention wine is $5 a glass before 5:00.
So Postino is mostly see and be seen, but the food is a lot better than most placed like it.