Chef Alex Knezevic showcases the Angus Tomahawk steak for two with mushroom demiglace, grilled asparagus and fingerling potatoes roasted in duck fat, served on the patio at Different Pointe of View (photo by Darryl Webb for North Central News).

Forty-two years ago, the Different Pointe of View restaurant opened as the crown jewel of a new resort sprawling along 7th Street on the site of a former quarry that sliced through the middle of what is now the North Mountain Preserve.

From the 14-foot-tall dining room windows, 1,800 feet above the Valley floor, visitors could take in a spectacular swath, or step out onto expansive patios paved with flagstone mined from the Tapatio hills around them to toast the sunset and growing shadows below them.

Today, in what is now known as the Hilton Phoenix Tapatio Cliffs Resort, evidence of that rugged foundation greets guests at the entrance, the restaurant seeming to spring from the jagged stone walls.

Some evenings, as the sun goes down and the moon rises over Piestewa Peak, you can hear the yipping of coyotes – a quintessential desert moment that has drawn visitors for more than four decades to its main dining room, terrace lounge and patios below.

It was a special-occasion spot, where locals bring visitors to soak in the view and desert ambience. The terrace and connecting patios are popular wedding venues, and the romance doesn’t end there. “Sometimes we get two or three proposals a night,” said Kelly Henderson, director of sales and marketing for Hilton Phoenix Tapatio Cliffs Resort.

Over the four decades, the view sometimes outstripped the quality of the cuisine, but management has been on a path to change that. Chef Alex Knezevic, who came aboard in 2022, and his team are continuing a process begun several years ago to offer innovative dishes that have elevated the cuisine to new heights, giving the view a run for its money.

Knezevic’s culinary career began at 14 years old, when he would help out at his Rochester, Mich., church, setting up the hall for dining events and eventually working in the kitchen as a cook. He tried a spell in college but found classrooms boring.

“I opened up my first restaurant when I was 20,” he said. “I had no idea what I was doing, and it failed miserably. I decided to go to culinary school, Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan. They have the highest number of certified master chefs outside of the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) in New York, without the CIA price tag.”

He graduated in 2004 and moved to Tampa, Fla., working four years with Fabrizio Schenardi, “the first chef to bring a Michelin star to a Florida restaurant,” Knezevic said. In the traditional career path of learning world cuisines and trends under a series of chefs, he worked at several Tampa-area hotels and restaurants before making the move back home to Michigan.

He moved back home to Michigan for family reasons and opened up a highly-regarded restaurant called Vertical Detroit, this time earning top rankings from local and national food publications.

“Then COVID hit,” he said, and in 2020 the restaurant closed. Friends and family encouraged him, now divorced with two young children, to move to Phoenix to be near them. “I did a couple of smaller events – catering and house parties – and in 2022 a recruiter reached out to me with this position.”

“When I came here, I took the existing menu and tried to improve on that,” Knezevic said. “My task was to make it more modern, and we try to go local as much as possible. Noble Bread, Crow’s Dairy, locally-grown microgreens, olive oil from Queen Creek. And we grow our own herbs here on the property.”

Knezevic describes today’s menu as American, with European influences. Guests want food that tastes great without being intimidating, he said.

Offerings include Iberico pork belly over black fried rice, with banana-tamarind emulsion; and roasted bone marrow with pickled red onion, Maille mustard chimichurri and caperberries, a luscious blend to spread over grilled baguette slices. They’re among the dishes served in the main dining room as well as the terrace lounge, a step up for guests who want to stop in for a few special bites with their sunset cocktail.

“It’s such a great experience coming to the patio just for drinks and small plates,” Henderson said. “We’re so fortunate to have such an outstanding property and a chef like Alex.”

Some of Knezevic’s innovations: compressed watermelon salad, where the melon is compressed with a cryovac; olive oil powder dusting the crab cake, served with Marcona almond romesco; and a 63-degree (Centigrade) egg served with grilled asparagus – “little things, introducing new techniques like molecular gastronomy,” he said. “The yolk is almost like Hollandaise.”

The menu also includes favorites like fried rice, steak, and roasted chicken with mashed potatoes.

“As long as it tastes good, that’s the main point,” Knezevic said. “It’s all about making it a little different, but still approachable and enjoyable.”

Different Pointe of View, at 11111 N. 7th St., is open 5 to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are recommended. Call ahead for terrace/lounge availability. For more information, call 602-866-6350, or visit


  • Marjorie Rice

    Marjorie Rice is an award-winning journalist, newspaper food editor, travel editor and cookbook editor with more than three decades' experience writing about the culinary industry.

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