Signature Selections

Savor The Flavors Of These Chef-Recommended Dishes At The Newest Restaurants In The Valley.

Lawrence Karol Restaurants 0 Comments

 

We’re a food-obsessed bunch here in the desert, but that doesn’t prevent us from occasionally being ensnared in the clutches of a phenomenon known as the diner’s dilemma. Among all the tempting offerings, what’s the one dish on the menu you shouldn’t miss? Checking with your waiter is always a good option, but with the arrival of several new chefs and restaurateurs in the valley, we took the opportunity to go straight into the kitchen and get the inside scoop on some of the desert’s latest and greatest must-try dishes.

State Fare Bar & Kitchen
PHOTO BY JON EDWARDS

 

Must-try dish: STATE FARE PRIME BURGER
Burger aficionados will be over the moon with this choice, the most popular dish on the menu at State Fare Bar & Kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, according to Executive Chef Bruno Lopez. The hand-packed prime beef burger comes served on a freshly baked pretzel-bread bun and is topped with hopscotch cheddar, onion bacon jam, aioli sauce, and arugula greens. Sides include either the oven-roasted baby potatoes or the restaurant’s signature sweet potato fries.
68900 Frank Sinatra Dr., Rancho Mirage
760-202-4710; www.ritzcarlton.com/ranchomirage


Il Corso
PHOTO BY JON EDWARDS

 

Must-try dish: POLLO VESUVIO
A new culinary addition to El Paseo in Palm Desert, Il Corso features the native food of Sicilian-born Executive Chef Mario Marfia. Try the Pollo Vesuvio, a regional favorite from Campania, Italy. “One of my favorites growing up, this dish is cooked in the wood-burning oven, which keeps the chicken moist and full of flavor while giving the potatoes and tomatoes a rustic, wood-roasted flavor,” Marfia says.
73520 El Paseo, Ste. B, Palm Desert
760-341-6700; www.ilcorsopd.com


Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club
PHOTO BY JON EDWARDS

 

Must-try dish: SOPES AND GRILLED JUMBO PRAWNS
“I’m from Jerez in Zacatecas, Mexico, and sopes are a traditional dish from the region,” says Ruben Galvez, executive chef at the Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club. “At Hacienda, we take golden, crisp masa boats and fill them with braised beef, cotija cheese, and a fire-roasted tomato sauce.” If seafood is your thing, try the Grilled Jumbo Prawn entrée, flatgrilled and served with oven-dried tomatoes, asadero cheese, cilantro pesto sauce, and a potato-rice cake.
1555 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
760-778-8954; www.haciendacantina.com


Simon Kitchen + Bar
PHOTO BY JON EDWARDS

 

Must-try dish: IRON CHEF BURGER
Celebrity chef Kerry Simon created a version of this dish during Season 2 of Iron Chef America. Executive Chef Jeremy Saccardi of Simon Kitchen + Bar at Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs explains that the burger is a blend of three cuts of beef — brisket, chuck, and short rib. Other gourmet components include a semolina potato bun sprinkled with black pepper (made by a local bakery), two-year aged white cheddar, “Fancy Sauce,” homemade red onion jam, heirloom tomato, and Boston lettuce. It’s served with the restaurant’s infamous Killer Spice Blend seasoned tots.
150 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
760-969-9676; www.hrhpalmsprings.com/simon.htm


Sirocco Pizza Company
PHOTO COURTESY SIROCCO PIZZA COMPANY

 

Must-try dish: SALSICCIA
Sirocco Pizza Company’s signature Neapolitan-style pizzas at Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa are prepared in rustic brick ovens under the guidance of Executive Chef Eric Theiss. The Salsiccia — crafted with locally made fennel sausage, caramelized Maui onion, and burrata cheese — pays homage to local purveyor Fulvio’s Foods and the family tradition that has gone into crafting fine Italian sausage for generations.
44400 Indian Wells Ln., Indian Wells
760-773-4444; www.renaissanceindianwells.com


Smoke Tree BBQ Bar & Gril
PHOTO BY JON EDWARDS

 

Must-try dish: BARBECUE RIBS
According to owner Joe Funkey, the beef and pork ribs at Smoke Tree BBQ Bar & Grill are “fall-off-the-bone good.” They are both slow-smoked overnight so that they are moist, tender, and full of flavor. “It’s a great companion with one of our pots of garlic or a house-smoked cheese plate, and you can wash it all down with one of our craft cocktails,” Funkey adds. “We’ve had guests from all over mention that dining with us feels like going back home.”
1775 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs
760-778-6521; www.smoketreebbq.com


Balisage Bistro
PHOTO BY JON EDWARDS

 

Must-try dish: KLEFTIKO
Mediterranean cuisine prepared with only the freshest ingredients is the star at Balisage Bistro. Chef Daniel Villanueva recommends the Kleftiko, a Greek dish with braised lamb wrapped in light, fluffy phyllo dough. “It’s braised with yellow onions, fennel, carrots, roasted garlic, and herbs, and I add preserved lemon to it, an ode to my Moroccan influence,” he says. “This dish holds many unique flavor profiles: earthy, hearty, and very much a true peasant-style dish of the Mediterranean.”
145 N. Gene Autry Tr., Palm Springs
760-406-4565; www.balisagebistro.com


Shabu Shabu Zen
PHOTO COURTESY SHABU SHABU ZEN

 

Must-try dish: WASHU BEEF SHABU SHABU
Shabu shabu is a Japanese dish that literally translates to “swish swish.” It’s served with a pot of dashi broth, thinly sliced raw beef, fresh vegetables, mushrooms, tofu, udon noodles, rice, and two different dipping sauces — ponzu and sesame. Customers cook the beef and other ingredients in the broth with a swishing motion and then dip it into their favorite sauce. “It is fun, tasty, and extremely healthy,” says Miho Suma, owner of Shabu Shabu Zen. “Every great shabu shabu restaurant in Japan has its own dipping sauce recipes and keeps them secret, thinking of them as precious assets, as we do here. We use fresh yuzu citrus for our ponzu sauce and almost 20 ingredients in our rich sesame sauce, which is non-oil and non-dairy but creamy and addictive.”
71680 Hwy. 111, Ste. F, Rancho Mirage
760-779-5000; www.shabu-shabu-zen.com


Appetito
PHOTO BY THINKSTOCKPHOTOS.COM

 

Must-try dish: PUMPKIN RAVIOLI
One of the specialties of the Italian-American restaurant Appetito is its revolving ravioli dishes. “They are such a true expression of our love of daily-made pasta and the changing seasons,” says Patrick Service, the restaurant’s managing partner. “Our Pumpkin Ravioli is a late fall and winter favorite of ours. We use kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin, and cook it down with nutmeg and stock. This is piped into our freshly made ravioli sheets and punched out for serving with a warming sauce made with crispy sage; dried cranberries; and pepitas, or toasted pumpkin seeds, and [then] bound together with brown butter.”
1700 S. Camino Real, Ste. 2, Palm Springs
760-327-1929; www.appetitodeli.com


The Edge
PHOTO BY JON EDWARDS

 

Must-try dish: CHARRED OCTOPUS
As its name implies, The Edge at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage sits on the edge of a bluff commanding sweeping views of the Coachella Valley. Just as awesome as the vista is the menu’s octopus, first slow-braised and then charred. This dish arrives at the table served alongside two kinds of potatoes: fingerlings cooked confit-style in duck fat and russets mashed with black squid ink. The accompanying fresh baby herb salad includes celery and fennel, plus a nice kick of smoked paprika. Executive Chef Bruno Lopez says this is the perfect dish to try before attacking one of the restaurant’s 24-ounce bone-in rib-eyes.
68900 Frank Sinatra Dr., Rancho Mirage
760-321-8282; www.ritzcarlton.com/ranchomirage


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