The eating just got even better in the tiny yet infinitely cool hamlet of Phoenicia. Brio’s, a community landmark serving superb and creative pizza and more since 1973, has added a mouthwatering selection of fresh-made desserts—their Heavenly Cakes. There are actually 16 cake varieties, 10 different cheesecakes, and 11 varieties of pie, ranging from classic standbys to exotics (Pumpkin Pecan Swirl cheesecake, anyone? How about Cranberry Blueberry Lattice pie?) and any or all of them sound worth the trip to Phoenicia just to be experienced.
Generations of skiers, hikers, and mountain vagabonds of all sorts have enjoyed the feasting and fun provided there by lifetime local Mike Ricciardella.
But there already has been a whole lot to savor at Brio’s Pizzeria and Restaurant and the neighboring Alamo Cantina, opened just a few years after Brio’s. Generations of skiers, hikers, and mountain vagabonds of all sorts have enjoyed the feasting and fun provided there by lifetime local Mike Ricciardella, and if you’re hungry anywhere near this part of the Cats, you need to know the ins and outs of the empire he’s crafted. Your taste buds will thank you.
Mike grew up in the restaurant business his parents ran the prior Phoenicia landmark spot Ricciardella’s—and revolutionized the all-important pizza aspect of the business while still a teenager, opening Brio’s at age 19. Tourists and locals flocked to enjoy wood-fired pizza and splendid breakfast skillets. A few years later, Mike bought the neighboring building and created the Sportsman’s Alamo Cantina, a showcase for the Mexican specialties of his culinary team. Phoenicia once again had, and still has, reason to rejoice in a solid source of creative tacos, burritos, and sizzling fajitas.
The restaurants have never quite merged into one. Brio’s is still the pizza destination, endlessly creative. “Nothing like a goat cheese pizza to fill you up after a day of hitting the slopes!” Brio’s posted on Facebook last January. “This particular customer asked for us to drizzle some maple syrup on this one and now it’s our new favorite! And let me tell you—it smells amazing in here!”
“I built a foundation for me and my family to stand on through hard work and investing back into the business. I like creating my own destiny.”
The Alamo Cantina contributes the Mexican and Tex-Mex, while Brio’s still specializes in Italian and American, but guests in either place get to order from the eclectic, extensive, and delicious combined menu. Both places have the laid-back feel of family-friendly neighborhood pubs with a practiced welcome for travelers. The vibes and food played a role in Phoenicia’s being declared Coolest Small Town a few years back. (This designation was not news to lifelong locals like Mike.)
Fresh, local free-range eggs for breakfast, house-ground grass-fed burgers, and delicious takes on classic comfort food (try the Apple, Bacon and Cheddar Grilled Cheese, or a Grilled Eggplant Wrap) are standard operating procedure here, along with vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free choices. To drink, you’ll find all the mountain essentials: a nitrogen-infused cold brew tap alongside 22 varieties of tap beer from near and far, frappes and lactose-free smoothies, and creative cocktails.
Mike grew up in the restaurant business—his parents ran the prior Phoenicia landmark spot Ricciardella’s—and revolutionized the all-important pizza aspect of the business while still a teenager, opening Brio’s at age 19.
You can certainly find plenty of hearty entrees on this menu, whether you’re in the mood for steaks, chops, seafood, or Mike’s Homemade Meatloaf. But if you want to kick it up yet another notch, Mike’s got another option for you, up near the hamlet’s signature eagle statue: The Phoenician, a classic American steakhouse he opened in 2014 when Phoenicia landmark Al’s Seafood closed. The Phoenician is the place to go if you’re looking for that special occasion vibe and a menu to match, with a clam bar and things like Oysters Rockefeller and Tuscan Mussels on the appetizer menu. It’s the place to go if you fancy a dry-aged steak or a rack of lamb. (There are vegetarian selections, creative-sounding ones such as Eggplant Rollatini and Gluten-Free Chick Pea Pasta.) There are scrumptious specials and decadent desserts to match, and plenty to drink.
Clearly, Phoenicia got lucky when this particular native decided to stay right here and pursue his dreams. “I built a foundation for me and my family to stand on through hard work and investing back into the business,” Mike told VISITVortex in 2016. “I like creating my own destiny.” Happily for the Catskills, that destiny is delicious.
brio's pizzeria & restaurant
68 Main Street, Phoenicia
845-688-5370 | brios.net
sportsman’s alamo cantina
70 Main Street, Phoenicia
845-688-5259 | alamocantina.com
the phoenician steakhouse
10 Main Street, Phoenicia
845-688-9800 | thephoeniciansteakhouse.com