Story | Justin Lee
Photography | Mark Lipczynski
Captivating and optimistic, sprinkled with precious moments, Virtu, the anchor inside the Bespoke Inn—the pocket-sized bed and breakfast in Old Town Scottsdale—has confidently sprouted into one of the most talked about new restaurants of the last year. Named one of 2013’s “Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine, the type of big-ticket love unfortunately too few Arizona restaurants seem to garner enough of, Virtu is one of those sharp, stylishly approachable and able restaurants every city needs more of.
Seasoned chef Gio Osso, the eager but focused force steering Virtu’s kitchen, adds maturity to the restaurant’s playful Mediterranean direction, paying homage to the region’s bounty without pandering to its stereotypes.
Already a trophy dish, the grilled Spanish Octopus is a clean, colorful winner. Charred, smoky and perfectly chew-tender, its equally presentable plating invites you to build as you bite, adding silky spice with the Calabrian chile butter, or a welcomed intermission with the lemon chick peas, arugula and raw fennel.
The lean smoked duck breast deserves similar pilgrimage, seared and fragrant, perfectly buttery and juicy, served flatteringly with salty bacon Brussels sprouts and contrasting sweet peppers.
Equally regarded as a terminus for the well-articulated cocktail, many consider poaching a seat at the restaurant’s small bar, simply to experience its intuitive and highly seasonal beverage program, to be just as desirable as indulging in Virtu’s food. New bar talent Kailee Gielgens represents with smart cocktail menus designed to pair and enlighten Chef Osso’s ever-updated food offerings, though by no means demands such participation. From barrel-aged cocktails and vibrant house-made shrubs and syrups, Virtu is effortlessly one of the best new cocktail bars in Arizona.
Virtu is a charismatic, destination-worthy restaurant that also plays perfectly to quiet neighborhood sensibilities—the type of restaurant that will impress on a special occasion, as well as comfort on a casual Tuesday night out. Still a young restaurant, as Virtu continues to hit its noted stride, Valley diners only look to the restaurant with added hunger and anticipation of what’s to come in the years ahead.