In affluent, resort-filled Scottsdale, Kate Hennen and Rob Taynton have created an intimate four-room B&B which they modeled after bicycle-centric inns that they visited while galavanting around Europe. Guests at their Bespoke Inn are offered complimentary use of British-made Pashley bikes from on-site bike shop, perfect for cruising around the art gallery adorned neighbourhood.
I arrive an hour before the sunsets, greeted upon arrival by an outdoor lounge filled with Adirondack chairs that sit in a lush olive tree dotted central courtyard. I climb a short staircase and look out onto the cutest infinity pool in the world, which overlooks a crimson sunset soaked al fresco space below. A waitress carrying a tray teaming with craft beer pints, flutes of sparkling wine and collection of ice cube sloshed cocktails passes below, signalling my move to Virtu Honest Craft.
Shortly after opening Virtu received much praise; Esquire Magazine honoured Virtu by featuring it on its Best New Restaurant in America 2013 lis and Chef Gio Osso was nominated by the prestigious James Beard Foundation for Best New Restaurant in 2014. After only two short years Virtu has firmly placed Scottsdale on the American culinary road-trip agenda.
The restaurant sits directly across from the Bespoke Inn with guests sharing a communal courtyard and the Virtu kitchen offering up top notch brunch each morning to overnighter’s at the inn. At the dinner hour the patio spills onto the sidewalk, local food fans lining up for Chef Osso’s modern, global approach to meandering Mediterranean.
Shortly after plopping myself down in the dinning room charismatic bartender Chad Elsner presses me for a drink. I quickly scan his menu and opt for the Ice Queen which he shakes up at the bar via vodka, rhubarb, strawberry-white balsamic shrub, fresh lemon, a froth of champagne foam and cracked black pepper.
While sipping on his slippery beast I pursue Chef Osso’s menu and moments later chirp a few favourites. I’m immediately wooed by a plate of buttery burrata perched on top two roasted garlic slathered crostini and muddled with warm sundried tomatoes, prosciutto and garlic chive pesto. After licking the last drop off the side of my plate I thought to myself with a smug mug, “if I wasn’t a food writer, just a normal human being, I’d order this dish and be entirely content to go home and have a nap.” Of course subsisting on singular perfected pleasures is not my thing, so the feast continued.
I ordered both of the restaurants handmade pasta dishes that evening because one needs to applaud the time sensitive skills and indulge in unbridled carbohydrates. Fresh pasta here is heaven sent; fresh trofie swims in oxtail ragu and is topped with a fried goose egg and bowl of spinach gnudi feel like I’m eating soft pillows nestled soaked in braised pork sunday sauce and topped with nutty grana and guanciale.
Curious carnivores also find happiness here. The Smoked Duck Breast is served New York style with Chinese 5 spice rub, duck confit stir fried noodles (which arrive on the plate stuffed into a Chinese takeout box) and roasted cashew eggplant while a Flintstonian Pork Rib Chop sits perched over calabrese peperonata, fennel sausage and is adored with a tuft of crispy leeks.
You’ll likely find yourself robust and romanced by the place at this point so don’t hold back, enjoy a sweet finish via decadent Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding. Spoon through the molten creation slowly and savour every last bite because this meal may just be your fondest memory of Arizona, save the jaw dropping Grand Canyon, but then again you can just visit tomorrow night and order everything again. Am I right?
vodka, rhubarb, strawberry-white balsamic shrub, fresh lemon, champagne foam, cracked black pepper
organic azunia reposado tequila, oloroso sherry, fresh lemon, moroccan spices, abbott’s bitters, absinthe rinse
warm sundried tomato, prosciutto di parma, garlic chive pesto, roasted garlic toast
oxtail ragu, fried goose egg, calabrese chile gremolata, horseradish mudica
braised pork sunday sauce, guanciale, red onion, grana
Smoked Duck Breast NY Style
chinese 5 spice, duck confit stir fried noodles, cashew eggplant
Niman Pork Rib Chop
calabrese peperonata, fennel sausage, crispy leeks
Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding