Review: Taggia (Fire and Sky Resort), Scottsdale
We met another couple at the new Fire and Sky Resort for dinner this weekend at its restaurant, Taggia. Chef Claudio Urciuoli has been receiving a lot of positive press lately, and some friends dined there two weeks ago and raved, so we thought we should check it out.
The resort itself is really very nice. Much different from the old Sunburst Hotel, although the general layout is exactly the same. The remodel, design and decoration is completely different, befitting a Kimpton hotel. We started in the bar at the far end of the lobby, just outside the restaurant, and just before you reach the outdoor patio and pool area. The colors are warm browns, golds and reds, and the entire resort is contemporary and comfortable. We waited for our friends at the bar, watching the ALCS game and looking out at the beautiful pool.
First though, I checked in at the hostess stand, and was surprised to see the restaurant almost entirely empty. They have a large patio, and there were several tables occupied, but the interior was empty but for one table. That's not something we're used to seeing on a Saturday night. The hostess said they are actually a lot busier on weeknights, so I'm guessing they get way more hotel guests than locals.
When our friends arrived we moved back to the restaurant and asked for a patio table. We were seated at the last table outside, with a great view of the pool, waterfalls and fires around the resort. It really is a beautiful setting, and the great weather made the patio perfect.
Our waitress arrived quickly and took drink orders. She also provided the wine list, which was limited, but nice. Taggia offers many Italian wines, and we took our waitress' suggestion of a Valpolicelli blend ($44). It was excellent, and went very well with the first two courses.
Taggia offers a pretty extensive daily menu as well as their set menu. The daily menu includes at least 3 or 4 dishes for each course, and seemed to be what was seasonal and fresh. We started with the burrata, which was served with oven roasted tomatoes and crostini ($11). Similar to mozzerella but with some ricotta, the burrata was amazing. Served as a deconstructed bruscetta, the tomatoes were incredibly flavorful and perfect with the cheese. What a great dish. Anyone know where you can buy buratta retail in Phoenix?
We also tried the calamari in umido ($10), grilled calamari and umbrian beans. The white umbrian beans had a smooth texture and a very creamy taste. The calamari was excellent and so tender. A much better presentation than fried (although they offer it fried, as well, with a spicy crushed cherry tomato sauce for $10, too). For a primi, my wife and I shared the maccheroncini di farro ($14) with tomatoes, eggplant, caciotta cheese and basil. I had just read in the Rebublic about farro, and ancient grain that is starting to see some use again. Apparently, it's very good for you, too. The short tubes tasted like whole wheat pasta. It as good, and I'm glad we tried it, but I probably would have ordered the orecchiette with spicy sausage, onion and roasted peppers ($16) instead.
For entrees, we all ordered from the daily menu. I ordered the roasted fluke with vegetables ($27). It was moist and delicious. I don't see fluke very often out here, and it was excellent. My wife and our friend had the seared yellowfin tuna ($29) with polenta and sauteed greens (I think). The ladies loved it, but I thought it was a little bland. The fish was just seared outside, and it had a very nice texture. I really liked the polenta, but I was thinking the fish could have used a little more...something. Our other friend ordered the pork chop ($25) which came out beautifully grilled. I didn't get to taste it, but he said it was very good.
We passed on dessert, and instead retired to one of the many outdoor, comfortable seating areas. Our waitress was kind enough to offer us after dinner drinks, and I tried Vin Santo (I think). It was very good, and a nice way to end the meal. The waitress mentioned that we could make s'mores at one of the fire pits, so we took her up on it. She brought out individual bags with four marshmellows, 1/2 Hershey bar and some graham crackers, as well as long metal poles with wood handles to toast the marshmellows. What a great idea. We sat by the fire, toasting marshmellows and enjoying the cool night. (My friend picked up the after dinner tab, so I don't know what anything cost, but I can't imagine it was much). I'd sneak back here after dinner somewhere else in a heartbeat for an after dinner drink and toasted marshmellows with my wife.
Our waitress was excellent, and she obviously knew the menu and each ingredient very well. Taggia really tries to use fresh, local ingredients whenever it can, and I know it gets produce from McClendon Select.
Dinner was $114 per couple before tip, which we thought was very reasonable for the quality of food and service. Apparently, chef Claudio has two other restaurants in other states, and isn't at Taggia often, but the quality of the food certainly didn't suffer during our visit. We'll be back.
4925 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
The first time my wife and I went to Taggia we weren't impressed, but since then they've become one of our favorite restaurants. They make some great food there although we've had a few terrible dishes too. If you can look past the occasional dud then you'll probably come to love the place.
There was some discussion a while back about the distinction between one menu that reflected the chef's vision and a second menu that the chef disparaged as "hotel food." I'm guessing that what is referred to above as the "daily menu" is the one that is more reflective of the chef's approach?
I'm not sure, but I don't think so. The regular menu included the buratta, the farro pasta, the calamari, etc. It also has a steak and a few other items that are required for hotel restaurants. They are both very interesting menus, with numerous ingredients I haven't seen much locally, if at all.