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Best Mediterranean Restaurant Phoenix 2002 - Marquesa

We're not the only ones enchanted with this amazing experience -- the resort's signature restaurant is rated AAA Five Diamond and Mobil Four Star. The decor alone is mouth-watering, rich in the colors of the Mediterranean region with polished marble, soft leather and 16th- and 17th-century Spanish Colonial antiques and paintings. A garden patio with a fireplace overlooking the McDowell Mountains invites us for luxurious alfresco dining. But we can't eat awards or ambiance.

Fortunately, the menu is as impressive as the setting -- exquisite seafood, meat, poultry and produce radiantly seasoned with provincial herbs, garlic and other flavors indigenous to the European region. We've been wowed by such temptations as cheese-filled pansotti with truffle oil scented sbira; buttered scalded chanterelles and truffles with sweet beet emulsion; and roasted veal loin pistou with crispy sweetbreads, cannellini beans and white almond pistou.

But what's most Mediterranean? Perhaps paella, and here it's pure luxury, stocked with lots of lobster, chicken, pork, frogs' legs, chistora, mussels, escargot, cockles and shrimp.

Vive la Riviera.

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