By: The Food Hunter
It’s not often a meal is so good that I tweet out to the world “I think this is my new favorite restaurant.” But that is exactly what happened mid-way through a recent dinner at Virtu Restaurant in Scottsdale. It was the ricotta gnudi that took me over the edge of what had already been shaping up to be a most memorable meal.
With emphasis on the freshest ingredients and unconventional preparation, Chef Gio Osso’s has brought authenticity and his Mediterranean roots to the valley. Housed inside a small bed and breakfast Virtu, offers diners a cozy main dining area with a handful of tables, and a fairly large copper-top bar where diners can view Chef Gio doing his magic in the kitchen. On those days when the valley’s weather is calling, you can request al fresco dining on the intimate courtyard patio adorned with shimmering string lights.
Our meal began with the restaurant’s signature appetizer, the grilled octopus. Charred meaty pieces of octopus are served with a spicy Calabrian chile butter, sprinkles of balsamic, a handful of lemon chickpeas and an arugula & fennel salad. The melding of flavors was perfection.
In addition we enjoyed the burrata appetizer: four pieces of creamy burrata cheese topped with truffle wild mushrooms and taleggio crisps served on grilled bread.
Our main course followed: the amazing gnudi I referenced earlier and the braised short ribs which we enjoyed family style. The gnudi, made with sheep’s milk cheese, are rolled in semolina and served tossed in a tomato puree. It is finished with a topping of roasted mushrooms and bits of guanciale, Italian cured pork jowl. Perfectly crunchy in its exterior, the gnudi retained a fluffy and rich center.
The bone-in braised short rib was served with sour cream and chive smashed red bliss potatoes and topped with pea tendrils. The meat was flavorful and the dish melted in my mouth.
If I hadn’t already declared my love for Virtu early on, I most certainly would have done it during dessert. Chef Osso delivered to our table his salted butterscotch budino, a divine butterscotch pudding featuring a spiced caramel drizzle, vanilla whipped cream and pieces of crumbled praline.
He also sent us his signature chocolate sticky toffee pudding with mascarpone ice cream, which though hard to believe was even better. We immediately told Chef Osso it should be illegal to serve something so rich, decadent and delicious.
Virtu is a true treat offering exceptional ingredients, thoughtful and unique preparation and sensory indulging food in a comfortable atmosphere. I am already looking forward to my next visit.
Virtu Honest Craft
3701 N Marshall Way,
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Cuisine Type: Modern, globally-inspired Mediterranean.
Price Range: Average individual dinner entrees, $20-30.
Atmosphere: Casual, intimate, stylish and warm.
Additional Information: Celebrated as one of the top 20 “Best New Restaurants” in the U.S. by Esquire Magazine you can expect a Mediterranean inspired menu that changes almost weekly, featuring handmade pastas, premium seasonal produce sourced from some of Arizona’s most celebrated farmers, superb seafood imported from the most notable fish markets in North America and southern Europe, as well as a seasonal cocktail program crafted with fresh pressed juices and unique spirits.
This meal was provided complimentary. However, all opinions and comments are my own.