Tucked away at the edge of Marana you can find a diamond in the rough restaurant—Dove Mountain Grill. Last week I was prepared to sample the bar menu, but upon walking inside, my guests and I felt compelled to sit down for a full-fledged dinner. Maybe it was because of the beautiful décor, or how we were greeted, but once inside we got the feeling that this restaurant knew what they are doing with food—and this feeling steered us in the right direction.
Immediately upon being seated, the wine director approached and asked if we would be interested in a free wine tasting. As it turns out, every Friday, DMG offers a free wine tasting of a white and red selection. The general manager explained that this allows them to try out new inventory, feature their lesser-known wines and receive feedback from guests.
On this night we sampled the Freemark Abbey Chardonnay and Cabernet. The wine director supplied ample information about the vineyard’s history, and guided us in what the wine would taste like. She described the chardonnay as having notes of citrus with a creamier aftertaste.
We enjoyed both tastes very much, but ended up ordering a bottle of the cabernet ($48), because it seemed more appropriate for the wintry night. It was full bodied and delicious, with flavors of black currant, cherry, and dark chocolate.
The menu is divided into two sections—Starters, Salads and Things to Share, and DMG Entrees. There is also a daily menu that highlights the soups du jour, and main course specials. My guests and I started with the Crispy Calamari, which was uniquely presented with baby arugula, prickly pear vinaigrette, and watermelon pico de gallo. I’ve never had calamari quite like this; it was almost like a salad as it was served at room temperature, and the watermelon pico de gallo was chilled. For $9.75 we received an overly-generous portion, as my two guests and I each had the opportunity to go back for seconds. While the calamari receives high marks, my only thought is that this dish would be more appropriate on a warm summer night.
For main courses one of my guests ordered the Fish n’ Fritas ($13.95). While notably one of the more casual dishes on the menu, it consisted of Corona beer-battered cod and chile-lime dusted fries. Served with chipotle tartar sauce, margarita coleslaw, and orange salsa, the entrée was tasty and unconventional (or at least as unconventional as fish-n-chip gets).
My other guest ordered the Pork Chop Bone-In for $17.50. While usually prepared medium, she ordered it to be cooked medium well, and the server ensured that this would not hinder the experience. The pork chop is brined to ensure juiciness, and I found her dish to be quite savory. It was accompanied by a creative combination of chipotle sweet potatoes, bacon braised brussels sprouts, and grilled peach bourbon glaze. The brussels sprouts in particular were distinct because they were shredded over top of the sweet potatoes. We later found out that the pork chop is one of the more popular items on the menu.
I had no hesitation ordering the Shrimp Pasta ($16.50) as my main course. In keeping with the other entrées, my pasta came garnished with two edible flowers, making for an aesthetically pleasing experience. But, more importantly, were the flavors in the dish; a bed of fresh tagliolini pasta was topped with four jumbo shrimp, and mixed together with fresh tomato and basil, Chablis butter, garlic, and red chile flakes. As a lover of garlic and spice, this dish was just perfect for me, but I could see it being slightly strong for those with more delicate taste buds.
Our table also had the opportunity of speaking with General Manager Ward Mack, who described Dove Mountain Grill as being more casual.
“It’s really more of a bistro,” he said. “When you first walk in here it might appear to be really fancy because of the décor, but we serve comfort style bistro food and really encourage simplicity.”
The main courses were such a hit, that everyone was in favor of trying dessert. We opted for the key lime tart ($6.25), which contained key lime curd and vanilla whipped crème.
While we expected the tart to be just like key lime pie, it instead focused more on the crust rather than the filling.
Nonetheless, it was still a lovely ending to an enjoyable evening.
Dove Mountain Grill
12130 North Dove Mountain Blvd, Suite 194,
Rating: 3½ stars
Recommended Dishes: Crispy Calamari, Pork Chop Bone-In, and Shrimp Pasta
Price Range (Dinner Menu): Starters Salads and Things to Share, $5.50-$9.75; Entrees, $12.95 to $23; Sides, $4; Desserts, $5.95 to $6.50
What the stars mean: Ratings range from zero to four stars and reflect the reviewer’s response to the food, ambience, and service. Prices are taken into consideration.