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Last updateSat, 11 Jan 2014 11am

Restaurant & Food News

Appetito Cal-Italian Deli Is Open—and Exciting

It’s safe to say that Appetito Cal-Italian Deli, at 1700 S. Camino Real, in Palm Springs (located in the same building as Koffi), is unlike every other restaurant in the Coachella Valley.

On one hand, the service is fast-casual, meaning that you order at the counter and then get your food delivered to you. (Take note: One of the managers lectured me when I called the service style “fast casual,” even though the term is accurate.) On the other hand, the food you’ll receive is better than you’d get at almost every other so-called fast-casual restaurant. (This explains the lecture.)

On one hand, the menu looks fairly simple: It includes starters, salads, pastas, sandwiches and foccacia (think pizzas, but on foccacia rather than pizza dough). On the other hand, it’s not simple at all: For example, one of the salads is a surprisingly tasty Tuscan kale Caesar (I say “surprising,” because I despise kale), and the ricotta gnocchi is made entirely of cheese—no potato or pasta is present.

On one hand, the décor is open and has a bustling, industrial sort of feel. On the other hand, the space is quite comfortable and features great lamps and other fantastic touches, due to the Christopher Kennedy design. There’s also a great bar, and the patio features an amazing mountain view over the adjacent Ace Hotel and Swim Club.

I was invited to a recent media dinner at Appetito, and I was stunned by all that managing partner Patrick Service and executive chef Chad Shaner—both veterans of the New York restaurant scene—have managed to accomplish so far. We tried a lot of food, and my favorites included the blistered shishito peppers ($5); the tagliatelle with English peas, pancetta, pecorino and a hint of mint ($11 regular portion; $16 full portion); and the foccacia with oven-dried tomatoes, stracciatella, oregano and garlic ($9).

However, the undisputed highlight was the porchetta panino, with pork, broccoli rabe, provolone and a chili aioli ($14). It’s delicious on its own; it’s simply stunning when paired with Coachella Valley Brewing Co.’s Appetito Ale—brewed specially for Appetito, and brewed specifically to go with the porchetta panino.

Appetito opens at 11 a.m. daily. Call 760-327-1929, or visit www.appetitodeli.com for details.

Fantasy Springs Offers Sip of the Desert

The Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, in Indio, is promoting its new Sip of the Desert Wine and Spirit Tasting series thusly: “Think monthly wine club, but with the top wineries and spirit distilleries all in one place, knowledgeable representatives, no pricey membership, gourmet cheese pairings and a breathtaking view spanning across the valley floor.”

OK. We’re intrigued.

On Wednesday, March 26, the first Sip of the Desert will feature wines from Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars. On Wednesday, April 23, expect tastings of Scotch!

The monthly event is held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar, and it will cost you $20. Reservations are recommended at 760-238-5727.

The Ritz-Carlton Takes a California-Centered Dining Approach

After a number of long and costly delays, it appears that The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage, 68900 Frank Sinatra Drive, is actually going to open soon: The resort is hiring and accepting reservations for arrivals starting on May 15.

But what does the Ritz have in store for foodies? The resort’s website offers some clues.

The State Fare Bar + Kitchen “pays tribute to California’s prized harvest and ingredients, inspired by offerings from the finest purveyors in the Coachella Valley, inland Southern California and the Pacific coast,” says the website. “Presenting the best of California for daily breakfast, lunch and supper, the restaurant provides a fresh and creative California menu, a lively chefs’ display kitchen, seasonal and artisanal culinary specialties, and signature cocktail trolley service offering table-side classics with a twist.”

Wait. Did that say signature cocktail trolley service? Very cool.

In the fall, The Edge steakhouse is slated to open at the resort as well. Watch for details at www.ritzcarlton.com.

In Brief

Sessions, the restaurant at the Hard Rock Palm Springs (150 S. Indian Canyon Drive), is offering half-off breakfasts and lunches to locals every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday through the end of March. Another tip for locals: The Hard Rock pool is open to the public at no charge (as long as you’re 21 or older), and as the weather warms up, there will be more poolside barbecue options available. … Shawn Aoki, the chef at Pinzimini at the Westin Mission Hills (71333 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage), is now offering a new five-course tasting menu. Enjoy kale chips as an amuse before moving on to cauliflower soup, herbed risotto and lobster toast. For the main course, choose between porcini fennel-rubbed flat-iron steak or basil pesto pasta, before finishing with a profiterole for dessert. All of this is yours for $75; visit www.pinziminipalmsprings.com for details.

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