Downtown Dining: Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana

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Photos by Mauro Whiteman
Location and Hours:
705 N. First Street
Phoenix Az 85004
602 795 2555

Tue. – Thu. | 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5 – 10 p.m.
Fri. – Sat. | 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5 – 11 p.m.
Sun. | 11 – 2 p.m., 5 – 10 p.m.

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Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana is a Scottsdale-based restaurant that just opened its downtown location last Tuesday. The pizza place filled the vacant spot that used to be Sens Asian Tapas and Sake Bar on First Street between Fillmore and McKinley streets. The restaurant offers traditional Neapolitan pizzas, salads and desserts and has a full bar with drinks to go along with any meal.

Food 24/30
I never went to the restaurant in Scottsdale, so I didn’t know much about the menu other than pizza. I had cheap, take-out pizza after work the other day, so I had high expectations for this meal. Too many items looked good on the menu, so we decided to try a variety of things.

We started the meal with a bruschetta topped with a ton of chopped tomato, fresh basil and other spices. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes, which really bothers my Italian grandmother, but I was even impressed by the antipasto. The basil and spices had a delicate, but lingering flavor. The fresh basil made it even better.

Next we alternated between bread with spicy olive oil and a mango salad with a raspberry vinaigrette dressing, which was a great combination. The salad dressing was delicious and savory and worked well with the mangos and the crumbled cheese. The olive oil wasn’t mouth-scorching spicy, but it had a noticeable kick. After putting a few more red pepper flakes in the dip, the salad had a nice tangy and cool flavor to balance out the spice.

As soon as our pizza was done in the wood-fired brick oven, we could smell it. And my doubts that I’d still be hungry by the time the pizza came were gone when I looked at it. We ordered the Pomo pizza, which had Italian sausage, onions, red peppers and mushrooms. The wood-fired oven kept all of the flavors in the sausage and vegetables and gave the crust a great crunch. The flavors of the Italian sausage worked well with the other toppings and, like the bruschetta, kept a lingering taste in my mouth. For someone who isn’t a huge fan of tomatoes, the sauce wasn’t overwhelming at all. We were eating a traditional Neapolitan pizza, so the 12-inch pizza had a very thin crust.

We thought we were finishing the meal with a delicious piece of tiramisu until we got a sample of limoncello. The tiramisu was incredibly tender and the layer of custard was complemented by the powdered sugar and chocolate and raspberry sauces drizzled on the bottom of the plate. About halfway through the dessert, the executive chef brought us a sample of his limoncello and some crunchy pastries with powdered sugar to go along with it. I never had limoncello before, but I was surprised how good it was. It was creamy and sweet but not overwhelmingly so. And it didn’t have a burning sensation like I’m used to with drinks that have a 31-32 percent alcohol content and lots of lemons. Maybe I’m just used to what I normally drink on a college budget.

Pomo has a full bar and we tried a mojito and a negroni. I was excited for the mojito because it slowly started becoming a favorite drink after I had one a few months ago, but it was underwhelming. It didn’t have much of a flavor, and tasted more like carbonated water with a little hint of mint. I’ll have to try it one more time to make sure it wasn’t just a bad mix. The negroni was a new drink for us. It was made of gin, sweet vermouth and bitters. It wasn’t the most memorable drink, but it was a good aperitif.

While the meal was great, it was a little costly. The drinks were $8 apiece, which isn’t too uncommon. The appetizers ran just shy of $6 and $9, the pizza was $14 and the dessert was almost $9. That’s not exorbitantly priced for good food, but it’s not something I can run out to grab often. But while it was expensive, the quality of the food and the service made it worth it.

Service 30/30
It may be because it just opened or that we ate on a Sunday afternoon, but the service at Pomo was impressive. The server was kind and gave a brief description of the menu before letting us take a look. As we made our way to each new plate, he was sure to come back and check on us to make sure we enjoyed the food. The rest of the waiting staff was quick to keep our water glasses full and remove any dirty dishes from the table. It seemed like everyone thanked us for coming as we walked out.

Besides a friendly staff, the top chef with his thick Neapolitan accent came to our table to check on our meal and brought out fresh toppings for a pizza. Toward the end of our meal, he brought us the sample of limoncello. It was interesting to see the top chef come out to make sure the food was up to par.

Atmosphere 26/30
Pomo has a very casual and relaxed feel. The pizza joint played oldies and easy listening tunes like Earth Wind and Fire and some of Michael Jackson’s more calm music. The walls are lined with photographs and paintings and the wall opposite to the entrance has a wall-sized black and white photo of what looks like a busy street in Naples. The place seems great for date or a casual lunch with friends.

Wild Card: 8/10
The friendly environment was the best part for me. I can grab a gourmet pizza elsewhere, but not everywhere has a staff that made me feel as welcome as Pomo’s did. And the head chef checking in on us and giving us a sample gave me the impression the newly opened restaurant is really trying hard to find its place in the downtown community.

Final Score: 88/100

Contact the reporter at mlongdon@asu.edu