Cowboy Ciao? Don’t think this place can't possibly be good with a name like that. In February 2013, they celebrated their 15 year anniversary. Everyone who has been to Cowboy Ciao in downtown Scottsdale holds it near and dear to their heart. It's quirky, fun, eclectic, and still manages to be romantic with a dimly lit room and pretty little votives flickering on each table. The menu is very original and this place boasts having more than 3000 wines on their list. No, that is not a typo, 3000 is the actual number. To refer to it a wine list is an understatement.
When you visit Cowboy Ciao, you will have an intriguing meal and be sure you go hungry because they will deliver a lot of food to your table. They manage to bring flavors together that you wouldn't expect such as scallops and beet risotto, couscous and chayote or filet mignon and pastrami. Cowboy Ciao will manage to marry ingredients and produce a dish you are guaranteed to enjoy.
The servers always remind you of their signature dish, the Stetson Chopped Salad (named after the Scottsdale street), which is another incredible delight with flavors and textures that you won't find anywhere else. It’s a chopped salad with dried sweet corn, lox, Israeli couscous, dried fruits, nuts and arugula. Again, there’s the odd ingredients that come together and amaze you. Portions are large and definitely masculine with big cuts of meat on the bone and salads such as the Testosterone Salad with tender beef and bourbon drenched cherries. Ladies must not be shy. Just dig into the big cuts of meat and enjoy! Cowboy Ciao a great lunch spot and it was here that I had the most memorable Ahi tuna. No restaurant, in my opinion, has ever come close to beating the Ahi I was served in this establishment.
Cowboy Ciao can get packed full of people but somehow you will manage to tune everything out. Maybe it’s the lighting, the fact that voices don’t carry in the dining room, or you are enveloped by the food. Whatever the case, you can still have an intimate dining experience. This place is colorful and funky but certain things like their votives on the white tables, warm faux finished walls, and dark furniture balance it all out. Cowboy Ciao is in the heart of downtown Scottsdale so if you have trouble parking, there is a valet lot across the street. Service is always good and if you don't have a reservation they won't snub you. They will do their best to fit you in but reservations are highly recommended on all days of the week.
For the finale, let’s discuss desserts. Cowboy Ciao’s bread pudding is moist and sweet, served warm, with dried cherries and pine nuts finished with praline served with cherry mascarpone ice cream. It's fantastic and don't say you don't like bread pudding until you try this one. Bread pudding gets the same bad wrap as fruit cake but if you have good bread pudding, rest assured it's nothing like fruit cake. It’s the most comforting of all desserts. Also, Cowboy Ciao’s award winning peanut butter brownie melts in your mouth with banana semifreddo. This place has fantastic desserts and you could drop in late while out for night in Scottsdale and just treat yourself to dessert. Pull all these great things together with any wine your heart desires and you have a winner. Also, look for Cowboy Ciao in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport if you need a fix coming in or out of Phoenix.