voila! french bistro
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Voila! French Bistro
April, 2013, Page 369
Photos by Richard Maack
quiche lorraine (front) and French onion soup (back)
Cheese and charm bubble over inside a Valley restaurateur’s latest Scottsdale venture.
Forget Paris. Chef George Venezia’s new eatery has locals crushing on Nice, the coastal Provençal playground home to ancient Roman ruins, salade niçoise, and – if Venezia is any indication – some pretty charming Frenchmen. Located in the former Dragonfly Café spot, Voilà’s decor reflects French countryside sensibilities with simple wood furnishings, linen napkins, and a painted chalkboard specials menu.
Swiss-trained Venezia has owned a few French restaurants in the Valley, including Bistro 32 and Mes Amis, so it’s no shock that Voilà’s traditional dishes are the must-haves. French onion soup ($6 lunch/$7 dinner) is a homey starter, topped with a thick layer of bubbly Swiss and gruyere. While this iconic dish usually suffers from soggy crouton syndrome, Voilà’s locally-sourced baguette held up nicely in the light, earthy broth.
Quiche lorraine ($12) crumbled like the aforementioned ruins, but its moist, meat-studded filling and flaky crust were nearly as buttery as the croque madame’s house-made croissant ($12), paired with a soft-cooked egg, smoky shaved ham, and Swiss.
mussels au bleu
Speaking of fromage, Chef Venezia’s macaroni and cheese with crawfish ($14 lunch/$16 dinner) is an over-the-top slice of heaven. The freshwater critters lent a bright, sweet flavor to cheddar baked into a perfectly browned crust. The crisp, sweet skin of duck l’orange ($24) was an excellent start to the entrée, but the dry meat underneath was a disappointment mitigated only by mashed potatoes and crisp green beans.
Fingerling potatoes and haricots vert were sorely missed in Voilà’s tuna niçoise ($12 lunch/$14 dinner). The Nice original is prepared sans both ingredients, but Voilà’s canned fish and lack of olives and capers made the salad tres tragique. Perhaps this is Venezia’s way of reminding diners that French women don’t get fat and therefore should eschew dainty salads in favor of butter and cream. Luckily, there’s plenty of that here.
Garlicky mussels au bleu ($12/$18) was punctuated by a jubilant Roquefort tang, while boeuf bourguignon ($24) boasted crisp root veggies and fork-tender marinated meat. It’s easy to imagine Venezia pouring vin into the dish while singing “La Vie en Rose,” since he croons French ballads for his regulars like a lovesick chanteuse.
Voilà’s house-made desserts are patisserie-worthy. The pastoral apple tart tatin’s ($7) cinnamon-and-honeyed fruit was so soft it melted like sweet snowflakes on the tongue. The mille-feuille’s ($7) velvety almond-vanilla cream and delicate dough layers gave me a Napoleon complex about my cooking. But I guess that’s why Voilà is necessary. Come for Venezia’s rustic French fare, and you’ll leave with a song in your heart – or, at least, in your ears.
Dining room at Voilà! French Bistro
Voilà! French Bistro
: 10135 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale
: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
: Macaroni and cheese with crawfish ($14/$16); French onion soup ($6); quiche lorraine ($12); mussels au bleu ($12/$18); boeuf bourguignon ($24); mille-feuille ($7)
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