A month ago, Asia de Cuba at Mondrian Scottsdale closed and made way for a new eatery, Cielo. While the stark white decor stays the same, the menu–and price points–are quite different. Though I was sad to know that my beloved calamari salad at Asia de Cuba was no more, I was excited to try the hotel’s newest restaurant reincarnation. (Prior to Asia to Cuba, I loved Fiamma Trattoria. Cielo’s chef Chef Donald Lemperle was on the original culinary team at Fiamma.)
As I mentioned, don’t expect any changes to the dining room’s decor. Though I always loved the look of the area, I think the casual Italian cuisine of Cielo calls more a more cozy dining atmosphere. However, I quickly got my mind off of looks of things after a taste of the homemade rosemary-garlic focaccia, Cielo’s answer to a bread basket. The warm, soft bread was paired with whipped ricotta cheese and olive oil. For something more sweet after this savory bread, we tried the Insalata di Rucolo with arugula, shaved fennel, Granny Smith apples, pecorino cheese and cider, mesquite and honey vinaigrette. This dish proved to be the ideal spring salad.
We were off to a good start and were even more happy with the braised oxtail tortelli with tomato sugo and parmesan crema. This pasta plate was our favorite of the evening. The oxtail meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender while the pasta was sturdy and hearty. We were slightly less excited about the Petto di Pollo Croccante with crispy organic chicken breast, buffalo mozzarella and a side a spaghetti and organic cherry tomatoes. Though the portion size was huge and made for a great day-after lunch, it didn’t stick out among other chicken parmesan-type plates that we’ve tried. Something that surely stuck out, though, was the gorgonzola mashed potatoes paired with the New York strip steak. Yes. Please. More. Thank you. For dessert, the chocolate budino was visually and tastefully memorable.
Cocktails were one of Asia de Cuba’s finest points, and Cielo offers a great cocktail selection, as well. (The tropical Uno Mas is right up my alley.) If you’re planning a trip to Cielo, I recommend sharing a salad and a pasta dish then ordering your own seafood, chicken or meat entree. (If you’re visiting before the summer temperatures hit, request a seat on the patio.) And with such decent prices, a chocolate budino wouldn’t be an unreasonable way to finish off the meal. 7353 E. Indian School Rd., Scottsdale. 480.308.1100, www.mondrianscottsdale.com.