Pomelo is the fine dining element on the property of Luci’s at the Orchard. Nestled into the residential community on 12th Street just north of Glendale Avenue in Phoenix, Luci’s is an unobtrusive destination — which is exactly what owners Jerry Mansoor and Ken and Lucia Schnitzer intended. To catch people’s eyes, “we have a water tower instead of intrusive signage on the street, to keep the residential feel of the neighborhood,” Mansoor explains. They also added 130 trees and bushes — the Chinese elms, rosemary, honeysuckle and other species seeming very natural on the property that was previously a citrus farm.
Equal care went into converting the on-site 1920s ranch-style home to a restaurant. In fact, guests at Pomelo might be hard-pressed to differentiate the new construction from the original (hint: age shows in the darker woods). The greatest achievement is having maintained the atmosphere of comfortable welcome that is the hallmark of “home.” In the airy main dining room, skylights add to the wide windows and décor of forest green walls and wood paneling in creating an out-of-doors ambience to make the most of the room’s juxtaposition to the complex’s central grassy courtyard, while upholstered panels on the ceiling absorb sound to help create an oasis of peace — at variance to the common design ethic that leaves sound reverberating against a surround of hard surfaces — that fosters easy conversation. Separated from this dining room by the full-service bar is a more intimate dining room at the front of the house, and Pomelo’s also offers two rooms for private parties: the brightly sunlit “green room” on the main floor with its centerpiece dining table made from a eucalyptus tree that had stood on the property, and a very private room in the basement level that enjoys a warm drapery ceiling and outdoor-scented air through its atrium windows.
The menu emphasizes comfort and classic. One of the most popular items is the “Amazing French Dip” that patrons assert lives fully up to its name. Other standbys are a variety of pizzas and a golden beet salad offered with optional protein additions such as a nicely seared slice of salmon. Committed to natural and organic ingredients and supporting local distributors, Pomelo changes its menu for the seasons two or three times through the year. “But we’ll keep dishes longer if people request them,” says Mansoor. “We’re not a one-time place. We want people to enjoy their favorites.”
Pomelo at the Orchard
7100 N. 12th Street, Phoenix
Served with Pomelo BBQ Sauce or Louisiana Hot Sauce, vegetable sticks and blue cheese dressing
Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and ricotta cheese
Seared Ahi Tuna Salad
Ahi tuna, Napa cabbage, arugula, avocado, rainbow quinoa, edamame and red pepper with balsamic dressing