With Chef Josh Mouzakes at the helm, ARLO is already making a name for itself–thanks to its stunning presentations and from-scratch recipes–at less than a year old. ARLO is found at Town and Country in San Diego’s Mission Valley.
ARLO, which opened last August, is a rare treat of a restaurant; the gorgeous dining space, nautically inspired with light woods, rattan, creams and blues, is evenly matched by Chef Mouzakes’ inventive and beautiful dishes crafted from local ingredients, from wild-caught seafood to farm-fresh veggies.
The best place to start is with the floating crudite, featuring local carrots, peppers and snap peas (or whatever goodies are fresh at the time) sided with truffle crema and white balsamic vinaigrette. Though the appetizer itself is simple and straightforward, its presentation is wow-worthy: floral wire is used to give the illusion of “floating” veggies, which was inspired by Chef’s aunt, a florist. Other divine vegetable-centric dishes to try include the spring pea and ricotta salad, which is the perfect offering on a warm evening, and the chilled soup shooters, in flavors of pea, grilled corn and the lightly spicy plum Tajin.
For a heartier kick-off to your meal, the melt-in-your-mouth lamb meatballs are a crowd pleaser, with ras-el-hanout sauce, gruyere, naan and carrot-caper slaw. The Berkshire pork chop, with baby beets, garlic rapini and chardonnay butter sauce, is another dish sure to satisfy the meat lover at the table.
While every bite at ARLO is bound to delight, its seafood dishes are where it’s at. Fresh, flavorful and thoroughly creative, it is impossible to pick a favorite among the bunch. The Pulpo & Passion comprises Spanish octopus, watercress, espelette glaze and an unexpected but incredibly tasty coconut panna cotta, plus a sprinkling of toasted coconut. The scallops and clams entrée again paired seafood with coconut (this time as coconut foam), with the fruit bringing out the delicate sweetness of the scallops.
With enough goodies to easily feed four, the charcuterie de mer spotlights a variety of sea-focused fare, including velvety yellowtail collar, shrimp chorizo, crostini, smoked mussels and clams and shockingly delicious house pickles and giardiniera.
The decadence doesn’t stop at dinner. The Honey Beehive dessert, comprising dark chocolate cake and cinnamon syrup, offers a have-your-camera-ready moment thanks to a flaming mini meringue beehive. A sweet winner for the whole family, the chipwich trio features three pint-size ice cream sandwiches.
ARLO also offers an impressive beverage menu with local beer and wine and a selection of picture-perfect craft cocktails. ARLO is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 5 to 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.arlosandiego.com.
Photo credit: Haley Hill