Scottsdale’s Toro: A Peruvian Ascent to Culinary Heaven
We recently took a fantastic culinary journey to Peru at Toro Latin Restaurant and Rum Bar, which is located at the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess’ TPC (Tournament Player’s Club), where the annual PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open takes place. Celebrity Chef Richard Sandoval has created this newest culinary experience where Asian and Latin cuisine unite.
“Across Latin America, food is more than a meal; it’s an event. A celebration that is shared, savored and enjoyed with the finest spirits.” This menu description perfectly illustrates our culinary journey at Toro—where we ate, drank, shared and laughed for an amazing 3 hour dining experience.
Toro’s cuisine is a fusion of Latin and Asian influences and the décor mirrors this theme. Take for example the focal point of the space…a Ceviche/Sushi/Rum bar that spans the length of the restaurant. Clean, modern-looking Asian lines and service settings highlight the sophistication of the bar area. The rest of the space represents Latin influences with shake shingles on some of the walls, rustic yet contemporary wood floors, artistically mounted steer horns and slate serving plates hugged by wooden borders round out the décor.
The restaurant is surrounded by windows with an expansive view of the TPC’s 18th hole. The patio, though not serviced in the hot summer months, provides an up close and personal view of the fairways, which makes a wonderful addition to the venue during the cooler months of the year. In the evening, white lights adorn the patio creating a canopy of illumination. Two inviting fireplaces complement both the inside and outside dining areas. Arizona is home to much wildlife, which sometimes presents itself in the throes of urban surroundings. We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a coyote crossing the fairway as we dined… where he was going remained a mystery.
While enjoying live Latin music, we began our culinary travels by sampling several of the restaurant’s 138 (soon to be 150), regional and local rums from the expansive rum bar (Note: This is the largest selection of rums in the state of Arizona). The restaurant is home to rums from Asia, France, Martinique, Argentina and various US states just to name a few locations. Our “Rum Princess” Melissa who is the ONLY certified rum specialist in Arizona guided our tour with an intense knowledge and passion about these spirits. Melissa explained, unlike other spirits, there are no stringent standards for distilling rum, allowing for much more imagination during the distillation process.
Unlike wine tasting, where you bury your nose in the glass to take in the bouquet, rum tasting involves placing your hand atop the glass and swirling, splashing a sample of the rum on your hand—then you cup your hands to your nose to take in the fragrance. Of the 7 rums we sampled, our two favorites were the Smacks Chai, (aka Christmas in a cup) and the 18 year old Don Pancho… so special its the only rum this Cuban rum maker has ever put his name on. In addition to the rum sampling, both Melissa and our helpful and attentive server Shaun, suggested we try the Prickly Pear Daiquiri. This vibrantly colorful cocktail blended blanco rum, lime, simple syrup and prickly pear puree and was like a sweet tart made just for adults.
The next step in our tour ventured to appetizers and salad:
Hamachi Tiradito – The Hamachi dancing upon aguachile sauce, framed by julienne apple and onion with a dollop of Sriracha was melt-in-your-mouth delicious…we actually had words over who would take the last piece.
Spider Roll – Not on the menu but rather a special for the evening. Udo machi roll with barrac root, cucumber, avocado, soy aioli and fresh ginger on the side to accompany. There was certainly no shortage of soft-shell crab in this roll.
Rainbow Tropical Roll – Hamachi tuna, salmon, avocado, Dungeness crab and mango-papaya salsa. This beautiful and tantalizing treat was so fresh, you’d think it was pulled from the ocean that day. It gave us a wonderful variety of flavors to sample, a summery feel of the tropics in the desert.
Parmesan Crusted Sea Scallops – lemon butter, toasted panko and Parmesan. The scallops were cooked so perfectly that they too melted in our mouths. The best scallops we’ve had in recent memory.
Local Tomato – Vine ripe tomatoes, watermelon, avocado, hearts of palm, burrata cheese, chipotle-balsamic dressing and thai basil. The blend of sweet watermelon and tangy tomato was a cool and refreshing experience.
Our next stride in this gastronomic excursion included an entrée and a couple of savory sides.
Churrasco Skirt Steak– spiced rub, yucca fritz and Argentinian chimchirri (a South American pesto) on the side. Tender and flavorful, the meat paired nicely with Shaun’s (our server) recommended Argentinian Cabernet. Though a unique side, the yucca fritz lacked in flavor and seasoning.
Chifa Style Fried Rice– A meal in itself! Rice combined with chorizo, chicken, shrimp, carnitas and Asian vegetables tossed in a light oyster sauce. We were told this is a house favorite that everyone on the staff orders whenever they dine at Toro. After tasting it, we understood why.
Pane de Bono Bread: We normally shy away from bread as a side to avoid filling up, but this pane served in a little wire basket was so different, we gave it a whirl. Yucca flour bread combined with mozzarella cheese curd. The outside is crunchy, the inside gooey and doughy because of the delicately flavored cheese. On the side was a ricoto pepper pico de gallo salsa. A new twist to an old favorite… the bread was reminiscent of an Italian bruschetta. Bravo!
Suspiro Limena– Peruvian caramel, vanilla bean custard, local honey meringue and seasonal fruit. The honey meringue was an uncommon and tasty accent to this dessert. Not too sweet, the creamy custard complemented the berries as a perfect finish to a wonderful meal.
Toro’s “Rum Princess” Melissa surprised us with a one-of-a-kind 12-year old Zaya rum to accompany our dessert. I have only ever been exposed to wine tasting… which I fully admit I adore and tends to leave me a bit “uncorked”. I now have a new type of sampling under my belt, who knew there were so many variations of rum? Thank you to Melissa, Shaun and the entire Toro staff for such an amazing rum tasting and overall dining experience.
The passionate and knowledgeable staff, scrumptious Latin/Asian fused food, beautiful surroundings and unique rum tasting savoir-faire made this a dining experience to remember for a long time to come. Hats off to Chef Richard Sandoval for embarking on this comestible concept!
Toro Latin Restaurant and Rum Bar Information:
Reservations: 480-585-4848 ext. 7374 – Toro Scottsdale reservations on OpenTable
Address: Google Map to Toro Restaurant at Scottsdale TPC (Note: location is at the TPC, not the Princess Resort)
Website: Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar
Special Events: Email Toro Restaurant
Hours: Breakfast 7:00am-11:00am | Lunch 11:00 am – 2:30 pm | Dinner 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Closed: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday during the summer months. Call to 480-585-2694 to confirm.
Sample Menus: Dinner | Dessert |Lunch | More
Notes: During the summer months Toro puts on a 5 minute firework show on Saturday nights at 9pm (weather permitting)
If you’ve ever dined at Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar in Scottsdale, please leave a comment below and share your experience. Click the following link to see more photos from Toro Restaurant.