By Michele Laudig
One of the most high-profile restaurant developments of 2008 also happens to be a home-grown Arizona original.
Prado is the name of the new Spanish-style signature restaurant at the soon-to-open InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa, and unlike some of the other high-profile eateries anticipated for 2008, it's not an outpost of a restaurant in another city, nor is it helmed by a celebrity chef.
Although, to be fair, Prado chef Claudio Urciuoli has become somewhat of a celebrity in his own right in Phoenix, making a splash at Taggia and, briefly, Different Pointe of View, before teaming up with the Montelucia people for this original new concept.
As a Slow Food devotee, Urciuoli's passion for local, seasonal ingredients will inspire a menu of traditional Andalusian cooking, with wood-fired grilling as a focus. (Among the southern Spanish region's many contributions to culinary culture, the invention of tapas is one of Andalusia's claims to fame.)
Prado will feature patio dining with dramatic views of Camelback, a wine cellar, and private dining. And in the hopes of appealing to locals, not just resort guests, menu prices will be accessible. Local consultant Jim Smith worked with the owners of the property to come up with the architecture, decor, and concept.
M Bar at Prado will be situated at the entrance to Prado, with a bar, Moroccan-style lounge, and outdoor courtyard seating. (The "M" stands for Montelucia, by the way.) Look for Spanish tapas, 100 percent agave tequilas, craft cocktails, and the signature "M Burger."
Elsewhere at on the Montelucia property, there will be plenty more to eat. Crave Cafe, geared towards locals, will serve up coffee, gelato, baked goods, crepes, and more, and will also feature a retail component, where you'll be able to pick up a bottle of wine or liquor, as well as gourmet food to go.
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Joya Spa Terrace & Juice Bar will cater to spa guests, with a sort of yin-and-yang assortment of feel-good foods: ceviche, flatbreads, and salads for the health-conscious, and burgers, fries, and cupcakes for folks who'd rather just indulge (hence the exuberant name, Joya).
And at the main pool area, there will be a casual eatery called Kasbah, with a relaxed Mediterranean vibe by day and a sexy lounge feel by night. Highlights will include custom cocktails and more than a dozen kinds of French fries from around the world -- sounds very interesting, doesn't it?
November will be an exciting month. The resort itself is scheduled to open November 4, and all of the onsite restaurants and bars will be open by Thanksgiving -- just in time for Phoenicians to give thanks to some new places to dine out! Amen.