calistro california bistro
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Calistro California Bistro
October, 2009, Page 184
Photos by David Moore
falafel bites with curry yogurt
With a strong farm-to-table concept, homey atmosphere and healthy twists, Calistro Bistro has quickly earned its bragging rights.
The wine display at Calistro California Bistro had my attention. It’s a towering, blond wood wall lined with uncommon bottles like Arizona Stronghold Mangus, a red blend from Cornville in Yavapai County; and Bonterra, an organic Sauvignon Blanc from Mendocino.
Then my server began his spiel. “Ninety-five percent of our menu comes from local farms,” he offered eagerly. “McClendon’s Select in Peoria, Maya’s in Phoenix, beef from Tucson, pork from Palo Verde.”
Ninety-five percent? Really? That would be an astounding coup in the middle of the Arizona desert. And yet, even though my server quickly acknowledged that that day’s fish came from Alaska and Hawaii, and that the chicken, some of the beef and plenty of produce actually comes from California, the message was clear: Chef-owner Devin Walsh holds true to an earth-friendly, farm-to-table mentality at his three-month-old restaurant in north Scottsdale’s DC Ranch Crossing.
Walsh, previously of the former Taneko Japanese restaurant in Scottsdale, also worked at VONG, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten French-Asian fusion eatery in New York. The menu here is Mediterranean, with a decidedly healthy bent: Walsh uses silken tofu instead of butter, cream or mayonnaise, and relies on a wood-fired oven for flavor.
For an appetizer of falafel bites ($8), Walsh starts with five puddles of velvety hummus, then layers them with crisp cucumber rounds slathered with more hummus, perches a plump chickpea croquette atop each, drizzles it with mild curry yogurt, adds a curl of pickled shallots and skewers it all together. Waffled flatbread ($13) is gussied up with house-made chicken sausage, house-made mozzarella, roasted veggies, licorice-toned fennel and a swath of sweet-tart pomegranate barbecue glaze.
Walsh’s soulful skills emerge with the red wine-braised short ribs in a crunchy coat of horseradish breadcrumbs ($24), or pork tenderloin teamed with creamy tepary beans and cornbread ($25). Yet he has a wonderful way with delicate fish, too, sending out moist herb-crusted halibut ($25) powerfully punched with roasted pepper piperade and whole-grain mustard alongside tahini and greens. A zippy pomegranate vinaigrette elevates tuna paillard ($15), the fish ruby raw on one side and seared on the other, then dressed in a mix of lettuces, julienne carrot and jicama, tomato and grilled flatbread.
Desserts (all $5) follow a successful less-is-more approach. Rice pudding features coconut, pistachios, fruit and Saigon cinnamon, while yogurt panna cotta is tangy with cherry compote.
The concept isn’t health food. The hefty sirloin burger ($17) and chocolate soufflé cake ($5) prove that. But if Walsh’s full-bodied flavors are as good for us as they taste, then Calistro is a coup, indeed.
Calistro California Bistro
: Contemporary American
: 18221 N. Pima Road (DC Ranch Crossing), Scottsdale
: 480-502-0325 •
: 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to
midnight, Friday and Saturday
: falafel bites ($8); red wine-braised short ribs ($24); pork tenderloin with tepary beans and cornbread ($25); herb-crusted halibut ($25); rice pudding sweetened with coconut, pistachios, fruit and Saigon cinnamon ($5)
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