Grace DeJong, El Inde Arizona
Tucson restaurateur Ari Shapiro has teamed up with veteran baker Travis Evans on
Whole SlVce pizza, a walkup New York-style pizza joint on the ground floor of the Monier
Building, west of downtown.
“New York-style has definitely been a missing ‘piece’ here in the City of Gastronomy,”
said Bailey Hennessy, a New York City native and UA student who said she is excited for pizza
that reminds her of home.
The pizzeria will serve big New York style slices with the owners’ Tucson flair.
Rio Nuevo, the downtown redevelopment agency funded by sales tax revenues in the
downtown redevelopment district, kicked in $138,400 after hearing Shapiro’s pitch earlier this
year. Shapiro, a longtime Tucson businessman, co-owns Beaut Burger in the Mercado District
and the Neapolitan-style Falora Pizza in the Broadway Village Shopping Center.
“I think this is going to be a home run and a win-win for both sides,” Edmund Marquez, a
Rio Nuevo board member, said during the board’s February meeting.
The restaurant’s 487-square-feet space is transformed with open shelving to show off
giant bags of flour and large cans of Marzano tomatoes, creating a trendy New York pizzeria-
inspired feel. The business is aiming to fit in with the Mercado District’s continual growth into a
robust modish area.
“It’ll be a well-functioning and beautiful little space,” Shapiro said in his pitch to the Rio
Nuevo board in February, adding “small footprints are what we do well.”
Shapiro’s culinary expertise continues to attract others like him, including his partner.
Baking at widely acclaimed eateries in New York City, Evans acquired his culinary expertise at
Bouchon, Sullivan Street Bakery and Eleven Madison Park before bringing his skills to Tucson’s
Union Public House and Proof Artisanal Pizza and Pasta.
“It really is turning us into a huge foodie destination,” Rio Nuevo treasurer Chris Sheafe
said in February, according to Rio Nuevo’s meeting transcripts
Bata, Corbett’s Tucson and Blue Front Restaurant are recently completed projects that
have attracted hungry crowds to the district.
These investments not only fund fun, new businesses, but also cause a fruitful ripple-
effect within the Tucson economy. Rio Nuevo’s 42 projects have created a $2 billion economic
impact over the last five years in Tucson, bringing in new tourists and young residents that are
drawn to the growing markets, according to Rio Nuevo officials.
“Each time a new trendy restaurant opens, it reminds me why I chose to go to school
here,” said Hennessy, emphasizing young people’s attraction to good food in an aesthetically
There is no opening date for Whole SlVce Pizza, 160 S. Avenida del Convento off West
Congress Street and Interstate 10. But, Shapiro has said he would like to open by late fall.