Matters of Taste:  1899 Bar & Grill brings approachable fine dining

 Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, January 2022

Written by Gail G. Collins

On September 11, 1899, equipped with a couple of sheepskin volumes of Webster’s International Dictionary, Northern Arizona Normal School opened its doors to 23 students, who sought certification to teach in the Arizona Territory.

Today, Northern Arizona University counts 25,000 students on its rolls across its original campus, satellite sites and online learning, and its mission grows.

The university expanded its learning opportunities with the opening of 1899 Bar & Grill in 2011, named in honor of the school’s founding year. Housed in the historic North Union Hall, it enshrines a legacy of history and education within modern prospects.

With fitting execution, 1899 Bar & Grill has followed through on its motto, “high altitude, no attitude,” winning this year’s top spots as Best Overall Restaurant and Wait Staff in addition to placing for Best Wine List and Fine Dining. The full list of the 2021 Best of Flag winners will be released online and in the annual winner’s magazine on Sunday, Dec. 19. 

Those are high marks, worthy of the care, consideration and oversight that translate into delicious dining.

Utilizing international flair, the culinary crew at 1899 developed a menu promoting bold flavors in handcrafted dishes. The kitchen is scratch from the aioli to the ice cream to the sausage, and then, artistically plated.

But 1899 is more than an elegant, retail venue with global cuisine; it is an integrated product of NAU’s Hotel and Restaurant Management Program. While the staff is not comprised exclusively of program students, the living-learning lab offers business career experience with some yummy benefits, like a meal provided daily to each employee, regardless of how many days they work in a week. That hits the spot. Moreover, a position at the front or back of the house instills accountability, responsibility and hard work as the best training for life in general.

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NiMarco’s proves itself to be a true, hometown pizzeria

Best of Flagstaff 2022

Story and Photos by Gail G. Collins

In 2022, NiMarco’s celebrated 42 years in business. Making good pizza wouldn’t grow the venture; making the best pizza was the only option. Fresh, not frozen, dough, cheese grated daily, scratch sauce and of course, quality, creative toppings build their premium pizzas.

Their winning objective: To provide a great product with a smile and do so in a timely fashion.

Dough is critical to a good pie, and NiMarco’s makes it “Flagstaff-style,” a term coined to describe the thickness and texture that doesn’t easily fall into Italian regional categories. Daily, dough is mixed and kneaded.

NiMarco’s is particularly picky about cheese, sourcing an aged product and grating it fresh. “I’m paying someone hours each day to grate cheese,” says co-ower Dave Ledbetter, “but it makes all the difference—creamier, melts better and tastes best.”

The sauces are house-made from quality tomato products. In fact, Ledbetter visited the Modesto, California farms to see where his tomatoes are grown and packed.

Hands down, the most popular pie is the pepperoni pizza. The Popeye, jam-packed with a garlic butter base, piled high with spinach, Roma tomatoes, red onion, bacon and mozzarella is a top seller as well. South of the Border begins with green chili sauce, topped with jack, cheddar and mozz cheeses, jalapeños, black beans and fresh tomatoes to bridge the choice between Mexican and Italian for dinner. Monster meat is billed for the carnivore, loaded with the usual suspects plus handmade Italian sausage and ham. The homage pie, Gary’s Special, shoots the works with pepperoni, sausage, olives, onions, mushrooms and bell peppers.

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