A trickling fountain inside a restaurant? The very thought of it conjures up a peaceful, serene image. Then, imagine that you are enjoying a plate of luscious Italian food prepared by an award-winning chef. A wall mural whisks you off to Tuscany. The glowing candles on the mural’s table fool you into thinking it’s a romantic alcove within the restaurant. That is the very ambiance that dominates Fresco Grill in Bonsall’s River Village.
Genial proprietor/chef Leone D’Arcangelo is an artist who paints with food, specializing in Roman and Tuscan culinary delights. If you like exquisite food, look no further. D’Arcangelo’s years of experience as a chef in Italy really show in his skilled compositions.
He is passionate about food, and because of this, he is attentive to details. Each year D’Arcangelo travels to Italy where he is inspired by regional culinary advancements. He also gathers traditional recipes, does a bit of tweaking, and makes them unique to Fresco Grill. Sometimes he just creates his own recipes.
“Caprese della Mamma” is an appetizer made with artisan burrata cheese stuffed with mascarpone cheese. What a dreamy cloud of cheese! Even though it’s an appetizer, you will feel like you are enjoying dessert. It’s served chilled and drizzled with a bit of balsamic vinegar, which intensifies the taste. This cheese dish is smooth with a light consistency and taste.
The scent of butter sauce with garlic and herbs wafted up from my plate the moment the “Roman-style Jewish Artichoke with Garlic and Herbs” was set gently on the table. Served hot, the artichoke, which was peppered with small bits of garlic, was not overpowered by it. The leaves were tender and even the stems were soft. I enjoyed every bite as I worked my way to the heart of the artichoke, then enjoyed the succulent surprise at the middle.
Savory salmon with capers and lemon is found on the menu as “Salmone al Limone e Capperi.” This entrée is served with a red potato and vegetable mix complete with tender Brussels sprouts. The firm, yet succulent salmon is grilled, then bathed in lemon caper sauce. The grilling process lends a smoky outdoor flavor; and the lemon caper sauce gives it a bit of a kick. The salmon is so delectable that it may encourage you to tarry as you relish every bite. Having just returned from Juneau, Alaska where I spent a week feasting on local fish, including fresh salmon, I can say that this salmon is as good as any I sampled in Alaska.
Linger and savor are two words that come to mind when describing my experience with “Sorbet with Limoncello,” an exquisite chilled dessert. The sorbet is swirled with Limoncello, then garnished with mint, and dusted with powdered sugar. It is a presentational masterpiece. Refreshing, tart and sweet, it propels you to a place beyond the ordinary. This dessert for royalty makes you feel like a queen as you linger over it, savoring every bite.
Leone D’Arcangelo was born, and lived much of his life, in Sperlonga, Italy, which is midway between Rome and Naples on the Mediterranean Sea. He immigrated in 1999, opened Carlsbad’s Fresco Grill in 2004, and founded the Bonsall restaurant in 2006. He still owns a restaurant in Italy, which his father established in 1983.
D’Arcangelo was honored with the “Top Chef – People’s Choice Award” in 2013 at the 6th Annual So-Cal Chef Open in Temecula. The majority of the 600 “tasters” cast their votes for him.
Wednesdays are special because Fresco Grill has a sommelier on the premises. Each week, the sommelier presents selections of wines from California and Italy. Live music is also offered on Wednesday and Friday nights.
Fresco Grill and Wine Bar is located in Bonsall’s River Village at 5256 S. Mission Road. The restaurant is available for weddings or large parties, and can accommodate 15 to 200 guests. For further information call 760-631-1944, or access the website: www.frescorestaurants.com.