January seems like a decade ago, so you may be excused if you’ve forgotten what big news it was at that time that Tempe Public Market was closing. This was quickly followed by the news that Postino Wine Cafe would be taking over the Public Market’s former location on the northeast corner of Rural and Warner Roads.
Then of course, came COVID-19, and all these best laid plans were put on hold, and, by us in the public, largely dismissed. But now Postino South Tempe is back on track, and slated to open to the public on Wednesday, September 16.
This isn’t, say the owners, just another clone of the popular wine bar, started in Phoenix’s Arcadia neighborhood in 2001 in the shell of an old post office (hence the name). The décor of Postino’s South Tempe location will pay homage to Tempe’s skateboard culture as well as the city’s celebrated indie music scene, through concert posters donated by Stinkweeds owner Kimber Lanning. Local artists such as Josh Rhodes and Fort Guerin will be represented on the walls, and a midcentury modern vibe is established through a hostess stand repurposed from a ‘60s-era cigarette machine used in the TV show Mad Men.
Sadly, of course, the pandemic is far from over, but the owners claim that the new Postino arrives armed for the fight: roll-away windows to allow indoor-outdoor dining and thus expanded room for social distancing while eating and drinking in. The increasingly important carry-out side of the operation will feature “contactless mobile payment, designated curbside parking spots, and steel fabricated way-finding signage to guide guests seamlessly through the pick-up experience.”
We are told that the place “proudly pours a wide variety of Arizona craft brews, paired with an ever-changing selection of approachable boutique wines, including more than 30 wines by the glass.” $5 mimosas are served with weekend brunch, and there are weekday happy hour specials.
As it happens, I rarely drink wine or beer. Or mimosas. So all I could do to evaluate Postino was to spend much of last week eating their food. Full disclosure: I went to the Arcadia location, South Tempe not yet being available.
I started with a lunch combo of the roast beef sandwich on focaccia—juicy, done but not overdone meat topped with the impressively-named crescenzastracchino cheese, paired with Postino’s “Soup of the Moment,” in this case a lovely, light Tuscan-style chicken. Day two’s lunch also had an idyllic Italian theme: Tuscan Tuna, coarse-ground fish with white cheddar, pickle and a surprisingly spicy dijonnaise.
On a third visit, I had a bowl of French onion soup, with no cheese blanket on top, just a piece of crostini floating in the broth which was splendidly savory. On the side, I had a succulent chicken skewer for a nod to protein. My companion had the Nine Iron, sliced grilled chicken on focaccia with straciatella, tomatoes and greens. Satisfying as a good golf swing (so I’ve heard).
Rounding out these meals were Postino’s three tempting dessert choices. There’s Chocolate Bouchon—warm ganache topped with vanilla bean ice cream—and a delicate and scrumptious crème brulee; the most ambitious, however, is the salted caramel sundae, topped with chocolate covered corn nuts and four architectural-looking pretzel sticks.
My conclusion, therefore, is that even if you never touch wine, there are plenty of good reasons to go to Postino.
Postino WineCafe South Tempe opens on Wednesday, September 16. It’s located at 8749 S. Rural Road in Tempe. For details go to postinowinecafe.com.