Three Great Finds in Flagstaff

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Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar
413 N. San Francisco Street

Cuvee 928
6 W. Aspen Street

New Jersey Pizza Company
2224 E. Cedar Avenue

Remember when eating in Flagstaff was more of a belly-filling situation than a memorable dining experience? Well, no more, my friend. This quaint college town now boasts three terrific restaurants — two of them fairly new, the last merely undiscovered.

The first one, Brix, is located in an old carriage house not far from downtown. Narrow, dimly lit and wonderfully atmospheric, the place has a casual fine-dining orientation, exemplified by butcher paper-topped white tablecloths. Chef and co-owner Laura Chamberlin's Mediterranean-inflected Contemporary American food is seasonal, farm-focused and fabulous. Because I ate there in the winter, I can't promise what you'll get, but I can promise you'll like it. Here's where I had some of the best duck confit I can remember. The artisanal cheese plate is a must, as is the pineapple upside-down cake. Consider the shady patio for a warm-weather lunch.

Overlooking Flagstaff's Heritage Square, multi-windowed Cuvee is light, bright and airy — the perfect hang for an afternoon of wine-sipping and watching the world go by. Although the menu changes constantly, you can expect to find variations on these themes: wonderful soups, imaginative salads, yummy pâtés and fine cheese boards. Don't miss the juicy beef brisket panini with blue cheese fondue for dipping.

New Jersey Pizza Company is a bit off the beaten path but completely worth seeking out. Don't let its unprepossessing exterior put you off; inside, this hidden gem brings Italy to mind. That's true for the thin-crust pizzas as well, topped with superb, meticulously foraged ingredients culled from around the state, as well as the US. If you're a straightforward pizza eater, NJPC can fix you up, but it's the fancy pies — topped with unusual ingredients — that really take the, uh, cake. Save room for surprisingly elegant desserts.