Central Bistro brings Old World flavors to Arcadia
The recently opened Biltmore restaurant, Central Bistro — located at 32nd street and Camelback which once belonged to Zen32, brings a bit of European vibe to the neighborhood as the space has been completely revamped to fit German Osio and Chef Andrea Volpi’s newest concept. It’s been two years since its sister restaurant, Local Bistro, opened, but you won’t find too many similarities between the two.
Touting a menu with Old World flavors, the space houses deep, rich colors complementing its brick and dark wood accents and impressive ‘wall of wine’. The kitchen is open for all to see behind a wall of glass and shows off a wood-fired grill and traditional Italian pizza oven. Outdoors, you’ll be greeted by the newly installed, intimate patios for al fresco dining. On the inside, warm, dim lighting welcomes you in and the simplistically rustic table settings make the space feel approachable… yet classy. It’s the kind of restaurant you just feel good in – great for a casual date, business meeting or night out with the girls.
On my recent visit, my dining companion and I shared a comfortable booth tucked away in a corner. Large pocket windows opened up around the perimeter of the restaurant when the weather is enjoyable, letting a slight breeze slip in.
The beverage menu is quite extensive offering over 250 wine labels and a selection of farm-to-table cocktails crafted by Mixologist Matthew Doerr. The Elder-Tea ($9) immediately stood out to me – I never pass up an elderflower cocktail – and seemed to be a hit among the restaurant, too. Made with Plymouth, lemon, elderflower, black tea and a splash of soda, it was refreshingly light with just a hint of fizz and not too sweet to take away from the meal.
We got a quick rundown of the specials of the day which all sounded very enticing, but I wanted to order at least one entrée from the concrete menu. For a starter, we chose the Charcuterie Board ($18) advertised as a selection of three cheeses, cured meats, mixed nuts, savory jam and assorted bread. Ours was comprised of assorted olives, frozen grapes (I loved the sweet iciness paired with the saltiness of the meats), prosciutto, salami, a sweet and savory jam, goat cheese, sheep’s milk cheese and Gouda, with a dark chocolate-hazelnut compound and fresh bread on the side.
Every component was fab on its own, but the soft goat cheese, salty prosciutto and house-made jam really stood out.
All of the smells coming from the kitchen were mouth-watering, but because the restaurant makes all of their pastas fresh in-house, I couldn’t be tempted away from ordering one of their many selections. I settled with what I thought would be the best of both worlds (meat and pasta), the Short Rib Pasta ($18) made with pici, 4-hour braised short rib and truffle oil.
The pasta was perfectly al dente – pici is a thick, hand-rolled pasta that resembles spaghetti, but much wider. A savory tomato sauce hugged the tender short rib against the pasta and I loved the salty chunks of fresh parm that I found throughout. The addition of truffle oil added a decadent richness and aroma to the pasta. I was in love.
My dinner mate ordered the House-made Ravioli of the Moment which changes daily based on Chef’s creativity and available ingredients. On this particular night, he offered a Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli served in a spicy, tomato sauce… and spicy it was!
I snuck a few bites of the ravioli and almost couldn’t pick a favorite between the two dishes… almost.
For a side, we shared the Grilled Asparagus with Egg and Smoked Sea Salt ($9), a nice ‘green’ addition to our meal. The grill flavor on the asparagus was slight, but the over easy fried egg served atop and sprinkling of smoked sea salt and pepper made this dish indulgent. Remind me to serve my asparagus like this at home!
Though we were too full for even a bite of dessert, I eyed the creations that left the kitchen and arrived at the table next to us. The Crème Brulee was beautiful and the Floating Island (pink peppercorn pavolva, white wine macerated strawberries and crème anglaise) would definitely be on my must-order list for next time.
In addition to dinner, Central Bistro also serves lunch every day and Champagne Brunch on Sundays. Happy Hour is available daily from 2pm-6pm and Monday-Saturday 10pm-1am. Check out their menus and website at centralbistroaz.com.
Central Bistro | 3160 E Camelback Road | Phoenix, AZ | 85016 | 480-646-8560
*This meal was provided to us complimentary as a part of a media invitation. However, this has no effect on our opinions and comments regarding our experience. View our Disclosure Policy for further explanation.