Prolific restaurateur Sheila Bryson is back – this time with a seafood spot in Scottsdale that’s primo date-night bait.
Sheila Bryson, the executive chef and restaurateur behind Soul Café, Vic & Ola’s and ALMA, is not a celebrity chef. If she were, someone would have already gushed about her string of successes over the past decade. Instead, she has quietly built a Scottsdale restaurant empire with little press but lots of customer support, which speaks volumes.
Her latest restaurant, Pescada, a Mediterranean seafood spot located in DC Ranch-adjacent Market Street, is unquestionably a charmer. I love the intimate, Old World space, with its wall-to-wall mirrors, glittering chandeliers, white tablecloths and cozy table lamps. There’s an indoor-outdoor bar I plan to revisit for gin and tonics (offered in various versions), plus excellent Italian wines, oysters on the half shell and a come-hither menu of ocean delicacies.
Complimentary bread service has become a rarity, but I don’t mind paying for Pescada’s fluffy rosemary- and salt-flecked focaccia, made even dreamier with cold, creamy cod pâté, truffle butter and mixed olives. I’m not half as fond of a diminutive crabcake, decked out with mango fresca and Calabrian remoulade.
Ironically, one of the best small plates at Pescada isn’t seafood, but classic steak tartare. Capped with a raw egg yolk and served with potato gaufrettes, it’s an excellent rendition.
Eggplant Caprese, a textural tower of crisp-fried eggplant, heirloom tomato, mozzarella and basil, drizzled with balsamic, is a pleasant riff on a classic. And smoked trout adds a luxurious touch to ultra-creamy deviled eggs dotted with salmon roe.
Although the portion is tiny for the price, Chilean seabass, set in a lush puddle of whipped potato and napped with lemon-caper beurre blanc, is the best entrée of the evening. Corn coulis and crisp pancetta add sweet, salty richness to scallops in need of a better sear, but squid ink-tinted cappelletti, stuffed with creamy Dungeness crab, doesn’t bring much flavor. A third entrée of overcooked swordfish is somewhat redeemed by a brilliant combo of farro, chorizo and raisin-stuffed baby artichokes, breadcrumbs and pine nuts.
Our dinner has been up and down – I’m blaming Arizona Restaurant Week – but Pescada provides what DC Ranch has lacked for a while now: namely, a lovely seafood restaurant for date night.
- Cuisine: Seafood
- Contact: Market Street, 20707 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale, 480-590-5735, pescadascottsdale.com
- Hours: Tu-Th 3-9 p.m., F-Sa 3-10 p.m.
- Highlights: House focaccia ($10); steak tartare ($24); oysters on the half shell ($24 for six); Chilean seabass ($48)