For years now, Prado at Montelucia has been a favorite dining destination in the Valley for its high-end atmosphere, amazing pasta dishes and divine wine list–and not to mention one of the prettiest patios in the Valley. Prado promises to still be a top Scottsdale restaurant as Montelucia has just brought on Michael Cairns as new executive chef. Cairns, a prominent chef in the Scottsdale/Phoenix culinary scene who is best known for his work at Arizona Biltmore, will oversee all aspects of dining including the Scottsdale property’s signature restaurant, Prado, as well as ROQ Poolside Bistro, room service, catering and special events. Chef also has plans to debut a fresh culinary concept with a renewed focus on tapas, featuring grilled meats and steaks. At Prado, Chef Cairns will concentrate on simplicity and incorporate family-style options to the menu.
To check out the new and improved menu for ourselves, we headed to Prado for a memorable lunch. Prado does a great job at making high-end fare seen approachable and unstuffy, especially at lunch time. For starters, the heirloom tomato and melon gazpacho is a refreshing way to begin a meal–especially this time of the year. The strawberry salad with white kale, toasted almonds, goat cheese, golden raisins and white balsamic vinaigrette also keeps things light and just a bit sweet. For a more decadent appetizer, the plate of burrata, heirloom tomatoes, large leaves of basil and balsamic is out of this world. The creamy burrata melts in your mouth and the cherry tomatoes offer pops of freshness.
For the main event, Prado offers a tempting lineup of flatbreads, pasta dishes and sandwiches. The Autostrada sandwich impresses with its delectable, soft focaccia bread, olive tapenade spread, tangy roasted peppers, slightly spicy salumi and, to top it off, lettuce and tomato. While the sandwich is large (you can even save half for a p.m. snack), it is far from a can’t-fit-in-your-mouth behemoth. For vegetarians, the grilled portobello sandwiches, finished with white bean hummus, is hearty yet healthful. On the side, diners have the option of traditional fries, sweet potato fries (our fave) or a salad.
To end a meal at Prado on a happy note, a Baby Baci is in order. The ooey gooey chocolate cake is topped with fresh whipped cream and, on the side, vanilla gelato cools things down. Though the baci is decadent, its petite size keeps your guilt–and gut–in check. www.montelucia.com.