August 26, 2012

Restaurant Review: Cowboy Ciao - Scottsdale, AZ

We recently took a vacation to Arizona to see family and to celebrate our nephew's bar mitzvah (I'll be sharing some food photos from that soon).  While we were there, we had the opportunity to enjoy some new (to us) restaurants and one evening My Sis-in-Law offered to let us go out for dinner while Our Boys stayed at her house to have more fun with their cousin. 

Once we knew we had the evening free, it was a matter of deciding where to go.  Phoenix is a pretty sprawling city, and is surrounded by a number of suburbs.  We had heard some great things about "old" Scottsdale and wanted to see what the dining options were there.  So, I texted my good friend, Janet, and she suggested a couple of places to check out.  We settled on one of her suggestions, Cowboy Ciao.

Since this was a spur-of-the-moment night out, I didn't have my camera with me.  I know, how is that really possible?  Well, it does happen... but, because this restaurant's menu had some interesting food offerings, I ended up using My Husband's iPhone to take the photos... so, keep that in mind as you are looking at the photos. ;)

The restaurant is nestled in the this really cool old-style area of Scottsdale.  There are ton of little shops - which happen to close early on a Sunday evening... bummer for me as I would have enjoyed poking around and checking out their unique items.  Next time! 

The name is a bit unusual... I imagined the restaurant to be more of an old Western-style place, but it was quite the opposite.  With a cozy and dimly lit interior, it was also inviting and a perfect place for a Date Night

Once we were seated and began looking over the menu, we had a hard time deciding how to order.  Thankfully, our very helpful server was more than happy to answer questions and guide us in making our selections.  We weren't in the mood to over-indulge so, we opted to share a few dishes so we could get a few different tastes along the way.

We started with one of the "Out of the Box" offerings, the Truffled Mac and Cheese with Potato Chips and Crispy Pancetta.

Cowboy-Ciao-Truffled-Mac-and-Cheese

The overall flavor and texture combinations were spot-on to what we would expect with a comfort food option like this.  The only downside we had to this dish is that we like our mac and cheese to be a bit "thicker" and the roux/cheese sauce was a bit too "saucy". 

For our 2nd dish which was part of the "Grazing" section of the menu, we chose the Shrimp and Grits.  I was a bit hesitant to choose this dish as the description said that the prawns had been marinated in a sweet cilantro - I tend to avoid cilantro dishes because I'm one of those people who thinks it tastes awful.  Sometimes dishes that have that herb in it are done well and it is not the star of the dish, and that was the case here.

Cowboy-Ciao-Shrimp-and-Grits
The cotija, chedder grits are hiding beneath the spinach, and I have to admit (My Mom will love this one), that I enjoyed them.  I've never been a fan of grits... something about them just never appealed to me.  I think that the addition of the two different cheeses really added something special here and I'm now more willing to give them a try again.

The second main meal that we ordered was the Puerco Lento - a pork shank that was rubbed with roasted cumin and slow roasted.

Cowboy-Ciao-Puerco-Lento
When I say that the pork literally fell off the bone, I am not kidding.  The flavor was slightly sweet, and worth each and every extra bite that I took.  This would be considered total comfort food.  It was served with a fingerling potato and hatch chile casserole that also melted in your mouth with each taste.

Cowboy Ciao also boasts and extensive wine list and serves an assortment of artisnal beers.  Since it was a Sunday evening when we went, we had no trouble getting in without a reservation, but I imagine on Friday or Saturday night you might have to call ahead.

Thanks, to Janet for recommending a perfect place to dine and to My Sis-in-Law for giving us a Date Night during our vacation!  You both totally ROCK! :)
7133 E. Stetson Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Definitely check it out next time you are in the Phoenix or Scottsdale area. 

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Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.

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