A certain hide-a-way restaurant, tucked inside the Bespoke Inn in Downtown Scottsdale, lives up to its name—Virtu. If excellent cooking is a fine art and the food possesses the quality of being rare, beautiful, or otherwise appealing to a connoisseur, then indeed this eatery is named appropriately.
I visited the Scottsdale restaurant twice since it opened. The first, a romantic dinner date, occurred a few months back. The noise overwhelmed us initially, but after a couple of Astral Tequila Blancos served with a side of Dante’s Sangrita, we no longer had to speak loudly to hear each other. Instead, we whispered, feeling each other’s soft breath and lips against the tip of our earlobes.
When we revisited the restaurant in May, we brought along another couple to experience the wonderful food and libations. I ordered a Kir Royale cocktail—champagne and crème de cassis in a flute glass. My consort and guests ordered a Dirty Martini with Kalamata olive juice. Our appetizers consisted of grilled octopus with arugula and lemon chick peas. They must have massaged the octopus for at least 40 minutes to obtain such delicate tenderness. The pork rillette (pate) with pickled fiddleheads and shimeji mushrooms tasted creamy and rustic. Plump juicy caper berries were used as a condiment complementing the dish. The third starter, grilled asparagus garnished with bacon candy, melted in our mouths and caused us to salivate like Pavlov’s dogs.
We shared the pan seared branzino with calabrese peperonata and crispy leeks. We inhaled the light and flaky perfectly prepared fish along with the Italian sides. Our friends had the grilled flat iron with Moroccan spiced king oysters and the pan seared scallops with baby artichoke confit. At the completion of the meal, all was gone except a lingering aroma and four satisfied palettes.
We ordered the chevre cheesecake with nilla wafer crust and slices of Meyer lemon. This dessert started a spoon war between the four of us. We ended the meal with a glass of Bracchetto, a sweet and sparkling wine that tickles your tongue.
It isn’t the main protein on the plate that I’m raving about, but the synergy of the combinations between the star and its supporting casts. Both the food and the service are trendy. The ambience, intimate and sexy, makes for a perfect setting for that special date.
I don’t want to label this restaurant because that would create boundaries. It looks as though the edgy executive chef, Gio Osso, hovers around cuisines and dishes of the Mediterranean, including France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Morocco with a soupcon of Asian flourishes. I hope he continues to tweak the menu by creating new flavor profiles and tantalizing dishes.