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Apr 17, 2009 03:33 PM

Prado - Paradise Valley, AZ

We've had a chance to visit Prado and the MBar a couple of times recently. One night was on a Monday when visiting friends were staying at the Montelucia for a couple of days. The first glitch was when we were told we just missed Happy Hour - after my girlfriend spoke personally to someone at the pool area, who called the front desk, and said that there was no more Happy Hour on Mondays. But Diane, the bartender, graciously offered to give us the tapas at HH prices. She was GREAT, personable and friendly, and made excellent drinks (I LOVED the Amante Picante with its secret ingredient of green Tabasco, and Julio's Margarita was excellent too). She made a nice first impression, and one of the reasons we liked MBar so much. We also really enjoyed all the tapas we ordered too - smoky grilled head-on prawns, velvety jamon serrano with delicious bread, spicy merguez sausage, and crispy, tender calamari with roasted garlic aioli ($5 at Happy Hour, Monday thru Friday, 5-7).

The four of us also had a very good dinner - excellent wood-grilled ribeye with burrata, fideua with day-boat scallops and langoustines (a little salty, but still delicious and one of my favorites), and for me the Monday night wood-oven grill special - cochinillo or suckling pig (great). These nightly specials are limited, so be sure to call ahead. In fact, one of the chefs (Ivan) came out personally to tell me they were out when Diane told him I'd be disappointed with the bad news, but then returned to our table to happily inform me that there was one serving left. Nice personal touch that was very much appreciated. The nightly specials from the wood oven are: Sunday - Wood-grilled meats, Monday - Cochinillo, Tuesday - Roasted leg of lamb, Wednesday - Roasted chicken with garlic and rosemary, and Thursday - Roasted duck.

They do have some kinks to work out though - the hostess "misunderstood" our reservation and request to sit outside on the patio, which we made in person before we went to the bar for pre-dinner drinks and HH. She did apologize and ended up seating us at a nice table by the window, however. Also there was some confusion once seated, and it took half an hour for someone to take our order. I think there was some mixup about who was to take our table, though once we met our waiter, he was efficient, helpful and very attentive.

On a subsequent Tuesday night we were back for HH at the bar. Again, we enjoyed the tapas and excellent drinks, this time made by Ross (who makes one of the best Negronis in the Valley). One disappointment. I'm a big fan of the splurge-worthy jamón ibérico de bellota now that it's finally available in the States, but the serving were small pieces, some cut too thick, instead of the thin slices it should be, especially for a splurge on a high-quality menu item like this. Maybe it was the end of the leg?

Overall, I was impressed with the food, but think right now it's good, not great. OTOH, it's a gorgeous restaurant, love the menu (hopefully they'll have Padron peppers this summer!), and beautiful bar area with friendly, skilled bar staff. I was able to speak to Pavle on our last visit, so knowing he'll be there this weekend, we're planning another visit tomorrow night for a birthday dinner. Besides, Ross tempted me with the promise that Saturday there's a new cocktail he'll be putting on the menu - something with Campari and passionfruit syrup. hmmmmm.......

4949 E Lincoln Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253

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  1. Thanks for the report. The reviews have been mixed, and I've been on the fence about whether to give Prado a try. It turns out, however, that I won a $100 Prado gift certificate in a silent auction at a charity event I attended recently. Now that I know I'll be going there for sure, I'll make sure to keep your recommendations in mind.

    1 Reply
    1. re: silverbear

      I'll be sure to report back on tonight's dinner. I'm really looking forward to trying some of the items off the daily seasonal specials menu. The review in the latest Phoenix magazine mentions dishes such as grilled sardines and squid-ink paella.

    2. We had a fabulous time at Prado this weekend, with a near-flawless experience.

      We started off with pre-dinner cocktails at MBar. Such a lovely space, and with a flamenco guitarist playing in the lounge area and breeze blowing through the open bar area, the atmosphere was really beautiful. While E ordered a glass of cab, I started with a couple of cocktails. Ross didn't have the ingredients for his new cocktail yet, so I started with the Amante Picante (bartender Tyler's way -"extra spicy"), and the PX Side Car with Spanish brandy, sherry, Cointreau, and fresh lemon juice. We were relaxing and enjoying ourselves so it was a while before we realized we never got the appetizers we ordered - jamon serrano, and jamon bellotta. However, within minutes of mentioning it to Tyler, the two cutting boards were placed in front of us and we were told there would be no charge. Nicely done!

      Dinner was absolutely wonderful. It was a perfect night on the patio and we were seated at one of the tables overlooking both the fire and the fountains with the mountain backdrop. So pretty. They now have well-known and highly-regarded Paul Xanthopoulos on board as the maitre d', and he was welcoming and gracious as he led us to our table.

      For our meal, we decided to share the three appetizer specials, along with the the fiduea for E and paella with squid ink (also a daily special) for me, and a bottle of Spanish albariño. Everything was excellent - we started with a delicous cheese (menu listed "quadrella de bufala") with bitter orange marmalade, the fresh fluke carpaccio special, and E's favorite, the rich and flavorful tomato-based mussels and chorizo. The fideua with langoustine and scallops was even better than last time, with the pasta soaking up the rich lobster stock. Loved my squid-ink paella chock-full of seafood. Both dishes are normally served for two, but the kitchen kindly agreed to make personal servings for us in individual paella pans. We were full and were going to skip dessert, but our waitress mentioned that for my birthday, dessert was on the house (nice!), so we let her choose and finished up, IIRC, with a creamy layered chocolate torte.

      Service was top-notch - Ashley was engaging, friendly, and helpful, as was Rob, and Pavle came over to chat and was his usual affable, classy self. One of our excellent waiters from our last visit, Oliverio, came over to say hello, and we also had the opportunity to talk to chef Claudio Urciuoli, which was a treat. His passion and enthusiasm for a seasonal menu and hiqh-quality ingredients is very evident. There's also going to be a menu change this Wednesday, so I can't wait to see what will be on Prado's new menu.

      We finished a wonderful birthday dinner at the bar with a coffee for E and an after-dinner cocktail for me - the Montilla Manhattan with rye, oloroso sherry, and bitters. We both agreed that with this most recent visit to Prado, it showed its true potential. It's such a gorgeous restaurant, the staff and service was impeccable, and I love the ever-changing menu and passionate chef. Very impressed with this last visit to Prado, and already have plans to go back and visit with family soon to check out the new menu debut.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rubee

        Thanks for the report. We had a great time at Prado, too, and it sounds like they are adding some incredible front of the house people (Paul and Pavle) to get everything right. It really is a great facility, and we enjoyed the food quite a bit. We had the Amante Picante in the bar, as well, and thought it was different and very good. Glad you had a good time.