Just off the main drag on Mill Avenue, Caffe Boa (398 S. Mill Ave. Ste. 110, 480/968-9112, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Wed., 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., noon–10 p.m. Sun., $14–32) is a longtime favorite. The stylish restaurant’s exposed brick walls, dark hardwood floors, and elegant, modern light fixtures are chic, but the overall mood is quite casual. Boa’s seasonal menu can swing from a light organic Persian cucumber salad tossed with a mint-and-yogurt dressing in the summer to braised meats and rich sauces in the winter. The handmade agnolotti ravioli filled with grilled portabello and cremini mushrooms in a creamy tomato sauce is always a winner.
Plop me down with the pepperoni and cheese from Slices (11 E. 6th St., 480/966-4681, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.–Wed., 11 a.m.–3 a.m. Thurs.–Sat., $3–5) and I’m in heaven. There’s nothing swank about this small, New York-style, grab-a-big-slice-and-fold-it pizza joint, which prepares a changing lineup of a dozen pies, including chicken parmesan, potato and bacon, chipotle veggie, and the Greek, salty combination of olive, feta cheese, and onion. Order a slice (or two) at the counter and fine-tune with a quick shake of crushed red pepper, garlic powder, or oregano. Hungry college students swarm to this crowded shop off of Mill Avenue, especially late at night, though a newer location at Tempe Marketplace (2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., 480/966-2021, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Sun.–Wed., 11 a.m.–11:30 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., $3–5) is winning over fans as well.