With five award-winning restaurants that continue to garner international acclaim, Chef Lisa Dahl has become synonymous with fine dining in Sedona. With a chill in the air and the holidays ahead, Dahl is now delivering her renowned comfort recipe lineup at Cucina Rustica, the illustrious fine dining hotspot that shines brighter today than when it burst onto the scene almost two decades ago.Cucina Rustica marries rustic Italian cuisine with Mediterranean soul foods, and when it opened 17 years ago in the Village of Oak Creek, just outside of Sedona, it was an instant success. Today, new patrons are finding Cucina Rustica for the first time, and experiencing the four dining rooms, and the starlite front terrace. The four fireplaces will christen those nights when the temperatures dip. Steps from Dahl’s corporate office and a short bike ride from her home, Cucina Rustica is the proving ground for many of her undertakings, both from a culinary and business standpoint.
Blending elegant, Old World European charm with a modern, fine dining atmosphere, Cucina Rustica offers a spectacular setting amongst Sedona’s vibrant red rocks that transports guests to a dreamy scene akin to that of the historic ristorantes lining the cobbled streets of Tuscany. Cucina Rustica’s menu features earthy interpretations of the authentic cuisines native to Italy’s rustic countryside, from antipasti tapas plates to delicate, artisan-style pasta and hearty meat dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, fresh organic produce and sustainably raised meats and seafood.This month, Chef Dahl is embracing the restorative spirit of a new season by showcasing an ensemble of dishes that perfectly complement the restaurant’s signature mainstays. Novel standouts from the reinspired menu include Rustic Bruschetta ($12), a shareable plate of abundantly wood-fired focaccia heaped with organic tomatoes, garlic, basil, and organic Greek olive oil; delicate Tortellini Del Bosco ($26), three-cheese filled tortellini sauteed with cremini and button mushrooms, finished with a delicate truffle cream sauce; and Osso Buco ($42), braised veal shank in a country-style sauce over lemon-zested mashed potatoes.
“In this new season, it feels only natural to usher in an equally reinvigorated essence at Cucina Rustica,” said Dahl. “For me, it’s been such an exciting venture to be able to expand the menu with dishes that I feel truly reflect the whimsical and almost electric nature of the holidays, that’s so beloved by myself and many others.”
The additions join the restaurant’s widely-celebrated staples including the Mediterranean Tapas Plate ($20), perfect for sharing and celebrating, which features luscious lemon hummus, toasted pine nuts, dolma, rice-filled grape leaves, imported feta, warm Sicilian olives, homemade rosemary focaccia and a signature dipping oil; and Boeuf Provencal ($38), braised beef tenderloin tips with mushrooms and baby peas, in a rich cabernet wine sauce on herb-buttered pappardelle. Dahl is also adding to the grill, a 14 oz. Creekstone Farms black angus boneless ribeye ($46) with rosemary roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus.A recipient of the Wine Spectator’s “Award of Excellence” for over 15 years, Cucina Rustica also boasts an expansive wine list, guided by Wine Director David Dimler, which offers more than 135 bottles focused on European varietals from France, Spain and Italy, as well as domestic wines renowned by enthusiasts of every persuasion.
Dahl’s decadent sense of style is carried not only throughout her cuisine but also in the sophisticated, indoor-outdoor décor of the restaurant itself, designed to evoke the feeling of stepping into another world that’s reminiscent of a secluded, romantic Mediterranean villa. The numerous indoor dining spaces are each anchored by their own unique pieces, including hand-sourced antiques from countries like Morocco and Mexico; ornate, teak beams dating over 200 years old; regal, emerald brass doors with hand-crafted, Ocotillo window coverings that create an airiness inside; and vintage paintings and statues that line the walls leading to a trickling fountain in the main dining room that sits under a breathtaking night sky installation. Adorned with twinkling lights, lush Cyprus trees, and copper-toned bricks and pottery along the exterior, the outdoor patio offers an intimate, alfresco dining setting amongst Northern Arizona’s fresh mountain air, whether guests are looking to cozy up closely in the winter or savor the warm glow of one of Arizona’s fabled summer sunsets.
“My goal since opening the restaurant has always been from the moment guests open the door, that they are taken out of their day-to-day reality for a few hours so they can begin their own magical journey to another place in time,” said Dahl. “The décor is centered around vintage doors and medieval gates because they embrace the ambience I envisioned of ‘a doorway to the imagination’ awaiting guests, and the patios are perfect for viewing a romantic, awe-inspiring full-moon dinner soiree, I see the restaurant as our theater, where night after night we make our performance as perfect as we possibly can.”
To make a reservation or for more information on Cucina Rustica, visit CucinaRustica.com. For more information on Dahl Restaurant Group and Dahl’s other restaurants including Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, Pisa Lisa and Butterfly Burger, visit DahlRestaurantGroup.com.
Cucina Rustica features rustic, Italian-Mediterranean cuisine in a relaxed, fine-dining setting reminiscent of an Old-World villa in Tuscany. With multiple dining rooms and a garden-style patio for al fresco dining, signature dishes range from antipasti tapas plates to delicate pastas and hearty meat dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, fresh organic produce and sustainably raised meats. Nestled in the village of Oak Creek in Sedona, Ariz., Cucina Rustica is open nightly for tapas hour and dinner and features a full bar and an expansive Wine Spectator Award of Excellence-recognized wine collection. For more information, visit CucinaRustica.com.
Dahl Restaurant Group
Led by Owner and Executive Chef Lisa Dahl, Dahl Restaurant Group (DRG) welcomes nearly 450,000 guests annually across all five award-winning, Sedona, Ariz. restaurants including Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, Cucina Rustica, Pisa Lisa and Butterfly Burger, a couture burger lounge. As the largest restaurant group in Sedona, DRG employs close to 300 people, many of whom have been with the company for more than 15 years. Each outstanding restaurant continues to garner prestigious, international recognition and ongoing accolades. Chef Dahl and her restaurants have been featured on The Food Network, Forbes, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, The New York Times, Wine Spectator, Travel Channel, Huffington Post, MSN.com and Marie Claire, to name a few. DRG will open a second Pisa Lisa location in late 2021. For more information, visit DahlRestaurantGroup.com.