Breaking Bread

By local contributor
Dawson Fearnow

What’s better than fresh-baked artisan bread and pastries? Nothing. Literally nothing. So sharpen your butter knife and get ready to tear into the town’s best bakeries.

A Bite of the Big Apple

Chompie’s is everything you want from a classic East Coast delicatessen, from the mind-boggling massive menu (bagels and blintzes for days), to the mile-high sandwiches stacked with a truly silly amount of cured meats. Founded in 1979 by a family fresh from Queens, NY, the Chompie’s Scottsdale location also bakes up everything from fluffy Challah Bread to gluten-free Friendly Rolls. But don’t overlook spicy South-of-the-Border specialties such as the Huevos Rancheros or the dangerously addictive Deep Fried Matzo Balls with chipotle ranch dipping sauce.

Mama Mia

The fresh-from-the-oven new, CM2 Pizzeria & Bake Shop was built by the same family that owns the popular Italian restaurant, Casa Mia, located just next door. But the owner’s roots actually stretch all the way back to Sorrento, Italy, so you know the pizzas here are authentic, Neapolitan-style delights. But don’t pass up the fresh baked breads, croissants, pastries and more, paired with the strong Italian coffee. Perfetto

Two-Fisted Focaccia

Unlike its simple yet satisfying menu, Leoni’s Focaccia has a charmingly complicated backstory. Owned by a husband-and-wife team, he’s Jamaican so their first restaurant is the award-winning The Breadfruit & Rum Bar in downtown Phoenix. But she’s Italian-American, so their new casual sandwich shop is all about rustic family recipes and authentic Italian ingredients sandwiched between brick oven-baked focaccia. Just be sure to save room for the house-made cannoli and to-die-for Italian pastries.

Beantown’s Best

Perched atop The Phoenician Resort, J&G Steakhouse is famed for its premium fare and endless Valley vistas from its floor-to-ceiling windows. But what you might not realize as the well-suited wait staff drops off a basket full of complimentary dinner rolls, is you’re about to taste a warm, buttery piece of American history. Named Parker House rolls after the historic Boston hotel where these fluffy little fellows were first baked up the 1870s, the story is they acquired their signature dented appearance when an angry chef shoved his half-finished rolls into the oven. In other words, you better have another dinner roll, you know, for research and all.

Flower Power

Starting with a single bakery in Scottsdale, Wildflower Bread Company has grown to more than a dozen locations across Arizona thanks to its hearty yet healthy-ish menu of sandwiches, soups, salads. But the real stars here are the house-baked artisan rounds, ovals, batards, baguettes and other breads. Not to mention a drool-worthy pastry counter piled high with scones, tarts, palmiers and pies. That said, the best single thing on the menu might just be the Taylor Ham & Swiss on a buttered ciabatta roll (breakfast and weekend brunch only).