Virtù & Old Town Scottsdale

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My husband has been so great at finding restaurants when we are on vacation. I’ll scour for hours and weigh my options to find the perfect joint. Or, in Rob’s interest, I’ll search for the “best” burger hoping that someone has the same tastes as we do – which is not always the case.

In fact, after our lovely morning at the Papago Park and Phoenix Zoo, I used my trusty Thrillist to find best burgers in the area {it worked in NOLA!} and then mapped them to find which would be closest on our way back to Nora’s in Scottsdale.

Due to our location, I chose Rehab Burger Therapy.

Let’s just say it was not our type of restaurant.

The tap list was almost non-existent. The menus felt grubby and it seemed, well… corporate. The bartender was friendly and told us the basic history of the place… But we weren’t feeling it. So to be fair, we didn’t try a burger at Rehab Burger Therapy, so we can’t give you a true account {although some of the descriptions sounded good}. After munching on a little chips and guac, Rob found us another, more interesting option just a few blocks away!

~

Enter Virtù

How he discovered it, I don’t know.

This quaint little place looks more like where one would enjoy a fancy, even romantic dinner. However, they are open every day for brunch from 10a – 2p. This was a win for us since we were out and about on a Thursday. And look, they had a nice craft cocktail bar!

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From their website:

At Virtù, the Machiavellian term for achieving excellence, expect a wandering, Mediterranean-inspired menu that changes almost weekly, sometimes daily, featuring handmade pastas, premium seasonal produce sourced from some of Arizona’s most celebrated farmers, superb seafood imported from the most notable fish markets in North America and southern Europe, as well as a seasonal cocktail program crafted with fresh-pressed juices and unique spirits.

Okay, now I get it. Rob was in search of some good pasta!

We couldn’t pass up a craft cocktail in this sort of establishment…

Which one would you choose?

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Rob went with the Fortified Truth {not pictured}. I however chose the Virtù Starter KitI mean, this was my first time at Virtù. It was only fitting, no? And it was beautifully crafted.

While I perused the menu, i noticed our place settings – forks and knives tucked in bed with a bit of rosemary. Smelled so good!

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What would you choose from the brunch menu? Of course, it changes often based on availability of local products and inspiration. Can you guess what I chose before you read further?

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I had my eyes on that Raclette Grilled Cheese! However, I just consumed my fair share of chips and guac at Rehab Burger Therapy. So I went with the other item that looked satisfying to me…

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Insalata – figs, pistachios, goat cheese, black grape vinaigrette – $12

It’s really difficult to show the loveliness of this salad. SO MANY FIGS! I would have liked just a bit more goat cheese to counteract the sweetness. But it did remind me of the flavors of a nice autumn salad in Paris.

I liked the open kitchen look with fun signs above, educating {Amaro} and entertaining…

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Crêpes bigger than my head kept coming up. I couldn’t believe the portion sizes. The cooks in the back were pretty easy on the eyes, too. 😉

And while I determined Rob had chosen this place for the pasta, there was no such thing on the brunch menu. I guess he’d have to settle for the Juicy Lucia Burger. After he ordered, I reminded him to keep an open mind. “I’ve never seen a Juicy Lucy outside of Minnesota – so don’t expect this to be one,” I warned him. They were just trying to make this burger sound more… Mediterranean.

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Juicy Lucia Burger – French Onion Style | Gruyere | Caramelized Onion | Fries – $15

I knew Rob would probably still like the burger because he salivates over French Onion Soup, which is what I assumed they were going for here. But when that plate was delivered, our bartender said. “Now be careful eating this burger… the Gruyere is tucked inside… It’ll be really hot.”

It was indeed a Juicy Lucy!

Rob was blown away by this burger as well as the holy mound of well-seasoned fries. Why was this not on a best burger list?! Perhaps because Virtù is a James Beard Award nominee known for its refined Mediterranean cuisine.

If you are in Scottsdale for any length of time, we’d like to suggest that Virtu is worth a stop.

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We finished our day with a few more stops including:

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Contemporary art museums are hit or miss for me; but this one was a no-brainer because there is free admission on Thursdays. We had nothing to lose! I was in serious awe of Bruce Munro’s Ferryman’s Crossing exhibit. Created with hundreds, maybe thousands of CDs, the play with light is mesmerizing. That is, unless, of course, you have vertigo. You can click here for a short slide show of photos.

Old Adobe Mission Church 

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This the oldest Catholic Church in Scottsdale. In the early 1930s, a group of Mexican immigrants worked alongside locals to build this adobe structure. It’s not exactly a must-see in my book, unless you have an extreme love of visiting churches, or a real affinity for this sort of history and/or architecture.

Old Town Tavern

Did I forget to mention that all of the above is located in Old Town Scottsdale? It’s quite the area of restaurants, bars, touristy shops and the like. We stopped at the the Old Town Tavern just for a beer to sit and soak up the sunshine for an hour or so. The serve a few local and craft beers by the can. The people-watching was grand!

My favorite part was when a guy brought his dog {Boston Terrier, perhaps?} on the patio with him, placed him on the high top bar stool across from him. Then he set a glass of water down on the table for the pooch as well as a bottle of beer for himself. Oh, how wonderful it must be to have beer with your best friend like that on a nice sunny day!

When we got back that afternoon, Nora asked us what we did. When we told her we finished our day at the Old Town Tavern, she said, “Oh! I’m so glad you made it to the OTT!” Apparently, that’s what the locals call it. 😉

How do you find or research restaurants for your travels?

Cheers~
Carrie

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9 responses »

  1. I’ve never personally eaten a Juicy Lucy, but what’s not to love? Cheese stuffed into meat! It’s funny because my husband used to hate me researching stuff before going on vacation – he just wanted to relax, chill and see where the trip would take us.

    So one trip to Florida I did ZERO research, and once we arrived, checked into our house rental he looked at me and said “what’s the plan?!” What?! That was the last time I ever didn’t prepare for vacation. 😀

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