La Grande Orange Pizzeria and Grocery : Slice of Heaven Baked to Perfection

Bloggin Good Food —  May 20, 2010 — 3 Comments

Virtually every small town, city, village or burg has its own slice of heaven, a favorite local pizzeria, mom & pop pizza joint, major chain or street vendor to grab a slice or share a pie. Whether you are dining in, carrying out or having it delivered it’s astonishing how much Americans love the taste of pizza, bordering on obsessive and psychotic (guilty as charge!). The obsession for a good slice is justified when you are on the quest for the best pizza and left to deal with crushing disappointments. Case in point, pizza where you couldn’t taste the difference between the crust and the cardboard box. We have had the unfortunate luck of dining at pizzeria’s where the pizza was greasy, dough was lifeless and the ingredients were something to be desired. Pizza connoisseurs bicker endlessly about where to find the best pies. While cities across America compete for the covenant bragging rights of best pizza. So, who will be The Godfather of pizza? Let the pizza wars continue!

We would all agree that making a good pizza is an art form and can be hard to find. Over the years after tasting a few horrible slices (trial & error) we began to ponder a profound question “What is the secret to great pizza?”.  Hmmm…Is it the sauce? Could it be the crust? Is it the ooey gooey cheese? Perhaps it’s the wood-fired oven, done the old fashion way? Well, for us its all of the above. Nothing beats biting into a piping hot pizza w/ crispy crust, stringy mozzarella and savory & zesty vine ripened tomato sauce garnished with fresh herbs. With the crust being at center stage and the fresh ingredients playing a supporting Oscar winning role (Bravo!). On the prowl for good or shall we say extraordinary pizza (yes, it’s a tough job but someone has to do) got us reacquainted with old favorites such as the classic Margherita and introduced us to creative avant garde artisan pies (think outside the pie crust) .

Being a hungry couple on the mission for good eats we always love getting dining suggestions from family, friends, avid foodie and blog readers (thanks for tuning in yal!). Thanks to a  long time Arizona resident we were introduced to La Grande Orange Grocery Cafe and Pizzeria, a neighborhood gem, once discovered made us feel like we won the jackpot. But the question still remained…besides the crust would La Grande Orange oven baked  pizza rise to the occasion when it comes to flavors? As we hungrily ponder this question we decided to let our taste buds do all the judging!

Located in Arcadia, a neighborhood known for good eats and amazing restaurants La Grande Orange (LGO) is making a big splash. Arizonians flock here to feast on mouthwatering sandwiches, pizzas, salads, decadent breads, pastries and a good cup of joe.  La Grande Orange  is a gourmet boutique grocery and cafe with an adjacent casual, family friendly pizzeria . Rise and Shine! The cafe is the perfect spot to relax with cup of coffee and newspaper in hand over a scintillating breakfast. The morning is not complete without munching on a their famous Commuter Sandwich, scrambled eggs, tomato and mayo on english muffin w/ choice of bacon, ham, turkey, smoked salmon or avocado. What make LGO one of a kind is their savory,  over sized, toasted and crunchy English Muffin’s. Their English Muffin’s are formed by hand with organic flour using an age old recipe and griddled fresh daily.

At their boutique style grocery and cafe you can step up to the counter and purchase local artisan pastries (Tammie Coe Cakes), sweet confections ( Goodytwo’s Toffee ), coffee drinks, novelty items, wine, sandwiches, sushi, grab and go salads or their famous Green Chili Burger on a LGO English Muffin (man getting hungry just thinking about it!). Their grocery/ cafe menu is perfect for take out,  ideal for picnics, or a bite to eat on the way to work or at lunch. They even have curbside service. You can even peruse their wooden store grocery shelves and purchase toiletries, flowers, pasta, cookbooks and more!

What makes this restaurant such a fun trendy dining spot is the history behind the name. La Grande Orange was born in a vast sea of sweet orange groves in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona. In the 30s, Arizona’s young and spirited would park their cars in a large circle with their headlights blazing and dance to the tunes of Benny Goodman and Count Basie. Inspired by that memory, Executive Chef/Owner, Bob Lynn pays tribute in his restaurants to the good old days.

La Grande Orange has been packing in the crowd since its doors opened so finding a parking park could be challenge. But trust us it is worth the wait and headache that comes with parking just to bite into a slice of their delicious oven brick pizza . Their pizza is a serious contender for some of the best pizza we have had the honor of devouring and swallowing in minutes ( now that we think of it, we didn’t even bothered to chew). When you first arrive you immediately feel at ease when you see a brightly colored outdoor mural that whimsically features an orange and lemon puckering up, serving as the back drop for fun outdoor dining complete with bistro tables. The restaurant’s lively bistro atmosphere is very casual and you immediately feel right at home when you are greeted by the kind waitstaff and upbeat relaxed music. The soothing, attractive and hip ambiance provided the perfect atmosphere to swoon over pizza and fall in love with their salads and appetizers (baked chicken wings rule!) Their is a beautiful floral centerpiece display on the center service table which is stocked with piles of pizza trays, pitchers and silverware. Psychedelic 60′s artsy music posters of The Doors Jim Morrison grace the walls of La Grande Orange to give it a hip, relaxed and not so serious vibe.

The beautiful decor combined with candle light makes for a romantic mood. So husbands & boyfriends listen up this is the perfect date night spot. We got a comfortable window seat for two as we pondered over menu showcasing American comfort food classics with a modern twist. The menu holds true to the culinary motto “keep it simple” with upscale taste, down to earth menu offerings and wallet friendly prices. Gracing the menu you will find fabulous salads, hamburgers, exotic combination pizzas, and baked chicken wings. Being indecisive our server was kind enough to help us narrow down our choices. She told us that the Roasted Corn Pizza topped with laura chenel goat cheese, corn, roasted tomatoes and basil was exquisite and would make our taste buds sing.  Also that the Gladiator Pizza loaded with Schreiner’s spicy Italian sausage, pepperoni, premium cheese and red sauce is a gourmet pizza must, popular choice among the happy dining crowd. Hmmm… so many choices so little stomach room. Great news! For those of you who can’t tolerate wheat-based bread, pastas, breadings and pizza crusts you don’t have to sit drooling on the sidelines while your friends chow down on a slice. La Grande Orange not only offers vegan options, but has a gluten free and friendly menu. Tiny leaflet symbols on the menu serve as your dining road map to what is gluten free and vegetarian. Man they have thought of everything!

Here at La Grande Orange Pizzeria pizza making has been elevated to an art form. While we pondered over such a life changing and important decision we started with their special as an appetizer a Smoke Salmon Pizza (smoked salmon, capers, parsley, creme fraiche and lemon zest). After just one nibble we thought we died and had gone to heaven.  In the end we decided to save the Roasted Corn for another pizza extravaganza and opted to go half and half. One side Avocado Pizza and the other side Gladiator (a meat lovers dream) topped with premium, honest and fresh ingredients. The Avocado Pizza topped with avocado, tomatoes, basil and lemon zest (you can add prosciutto for extra $$) is a vegetarian favorite. The server then asked if we wanted freshly grated Parmesan and the answer was a big “yes” please.  Now came the first bite and real taste test… the crust. La Grande Orange pizza proves that when you have stellar ingredients, one need do very little to make them shine. Just from biting into our first bite you can tell the ingredients are first class and the flavors were balanced. Of course the sourdough crust being the star of the show adding an element of tartness. The crust is attractively charred (slightly), chewy, crispy to perfection, just the way we like it. It provides the perfect canvas for sweet red tomato sauce, cheese, herbs and their vast array of fresh toppings. It amazing what masterfully can come from the inferno-like depths of a pizza oven. We are definitely smitten with La Grande Orange delicious & savory pies!

Hey, but don’t forget to save room for dessert! The son of La Grande Orange owner/chef Lynn is following in his dad’s culinary footsteps by opening up a gelateria right next door. Indulge your sweet tooth by venturing next door to The Grateful Spoon Gelato formerly Arlecchino Gelateria (do you sense a rock & roll theme) for a scoop or two of their uber-popular artisanal gelato. The gelato is made from scratch with premium, local and all natural ingredients, only the best. You may even be tempted to have dessert first then dinner. La Grande Orange Grocery/Cafe & Pizzeria is definitely one of our favorite cafe and pizza hangouts! Hope to see you there!!

Pizzeria menu
Average Price Range: $10-$14

Grocery menu
Average Price Range: $6-$9

La Grande Orange Grocery

La Grande Orange Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

4410 North 40th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85018-4145
(602) 840-7777

So, have you eaten at La Grande Orange? If so what did you order? What specialty pizza should La Grane Orange Pizzeria add to the menu?  – Leave a comment below and let us know.

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If you do stop in to La Grande Orange tell them Bloggin’ Good Food sent you. Remember life is to short to eat bad food. Now we are off on another foodie adventure, so taste buds stay tuned!

Adam & Wendy

Bloggin Good Food


3 responses to La Grande Orange Pizzeria and Grocery : Slice of Heaven Baked to Perfection

  1. truckingoodfood May 21, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    This one of my favorite places – along with great food and drinks it's got some of the best people watching around…

  2. Green chili cheeseburger – now THAT'S a burger!

  3. You missed the boat by skipping the Roasted Corn.  It's seriously the best pizza in the history of mankind (imo).  The sweet corn really pops in your mouth against the wonderful tart creaminess of the cheese.  Sooo good!  I'm also glad you mentioned the wings.  Hands down the most delightful wings I've had in Phoenix.

    Quick side-note…while Grateful Spoon is very good, it's DEFINITELY lost a step since Moreno sold it to the LGO guy's son & they changed names.  Gone is my favorite Vesuvio & the previously-out-of-this-world pistachio is inconsistent (sometimes tasting artificially flavored now).  We still get it every time, but there is always a pang of bitterness at remembering what once was.

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