Different Pointe of View at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort
Article by Christina Barrueta, Photos courtesy of Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs
A prime location perched on Lookout Mountain, a wonderful menu and wine list, and a 21-consecutive year AAA-Four Diamond award winner. Put all these together and you have the magical spot known as Different Pointe of View at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. Winding your way up Pointe of View Drive, you find yourself at the base of a restaurant that looks built into the hillside. Up a few more steps through heavy wooden doors, follow the curving staircase to your destination, a striking room walled by 14-foot glass windows framing beautiful vistas. The tiered room guarantees a gorgeous view from every table and the relaxed resort atmosphere promises perfect comfort for either a celebratory meal or a more casual night out. Seating on the large terrace takes advantage of al fresco dining with multiple spots to enjoy dinner, meet friends over sunset cocktails, or lounge around the fire on cooler evenings. Prices are surprisingly reasonable for such a stunner; why find yourself at a chain steak house when you can soak up some Phoenix history and dine with a view of its twinkling city lights.
Executive Chef Anthony DeMuro has created a modern menu with an emphasis on farm fresh quality and regionally grown ingredients. The menu changes seasonally, although some items, such as the superb lobster bisque, are signature dishes year-round. I’m also impressed with the talented staff here, many of whom have worked together for many years, some even decades. Helmed by managers Bill and Joe, such loyalty and pride is reflected in the welcoming atmosphere and excellent service.
My initial visit was part of Arizona’s biannual Restaurant Week (a great value of three courses for $40). While some participating restaurants create less costly dishes for RW, Different Pointe of View showcased items from their nightly menu. We watched the colors around us change as the sun set, sipping on glasses of Chablis and nibbling on the complimentary bread basket with its trio of accompaniments – garlic-parmesan sauce, basil pesto, and piquillo pepper butter. Ravioli arrived as two pillows of pasta wrapped around braised duck balanced on mounds of sauteed arugula and showered in fluffy parmesan. Separated by an artful design of slow-roasted tomatoes and tomato cream garnished with a tuft of shaved truffles, all the components together made an elegant starter. Chef DeMuro’s luxurious lobster bisque was rich with the rounded layers of a port-sweet vermouth-sherry reduction, garnished with pumpkin crème fraiche and vanilla oil and deserving of its many accolades. Exquisitely prepared pan-seared halibut was moist and velvety with a delicate crust, dressed with lemon fennel reduction and crowned with a thatch of fried leeks. Paired with mashed Peruvian purple potatoes and a terrific ragout of beech mushrooms, shrimp, and Peppadew peppers with asparagus, this was another example of the chef’s finesse with balancing flavors. Grilled Cedar River beef tenderloin was cooked just as perfectly, its flavor marrying with a cap of Cabrales blue cheese butter and seductive cabernet-fig reduction. A medley of fingerling potatoes and earthy cremini mushrooms with crispy pancetta was the perfect side dish. Two indulgent choices from the dessert menu – light and citrusy almond and honey semifreddo and Midnight Espresso Cup (white chocolate-mascarpone filled chocolate cake with coffee ice cream) – were irresistible finales. With such an excellent representation of what Different Pointe of View had to offer, I couldn’t wait to return to explore the rest of the menu.
In keeping with Chef DeMuro’s philosophy of high-quality ingredients and sourcing locally, the menu changes with seasonality and availability. On one visit I’m in love with the bright flavors of paper-thin slices of heirloom tomato “carpaccio” strewn with the salty tang of ricotta salata, embellished with a tossed mix of greens, olives, artichokes and roasted tomatoes graced with a roasted pepper-sherry dressing. Another favorite salad presents as labor-intensive individual leaves of Brussels sprouts with crispy pancetta, caramelized shallots, dried cranberries and creamy lemon Stilton cheese. Heartier appetizers bring fat scallops adrift in a sea of caramelized butternut squash reduction, served with a timbale of roasted corn and nutty-chewy red quinoa. A dish of slow-roasted pork belly with corn-studded polenta and chanterelle mushrooms enhanced with the mellow sweetness of Marsala, maple, and apple is a standout. Among main courses, a decadent seafood duet features buttery poached Maine lobster presented on a crisp herb risotto cake and pancetta-wrapped prawns with grilled baby fennel. Juicy Palo Verde pork tenderloin nods to the Southwest with a smoky ancho chile rub accompanied by a honey corn cake and pepita pesto with a savory sauce flavored with dried cherries and herbs. Fork-tender braised veal shank with plenty of rich marrow in the bone is accentuated with a deep rosemary and port braising reduction. The root vegetable and parmesan risotto and the addition of the less-common herb chervil to the classic gremolata combination of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic elevates this classic dish with the chef’s personal touch.
If choosing just one dessert is difficult, Different of Pointe Views makes it easy with some of their enticing dessert duos – perhaps the Easy as Pie with an individual strawberry pie and a chocolatey marshmallow butter cream-filled whoopee pie, or the Cuba Libre with silken chocolate and vanilla panna cotta with fudge cake and rum and coke ice cream. I’ve also been eyeing the wine and chocolate sampler with wine flights paired by the sommelier.
Eric Spragett is Different Pointe of View’s Cellar Master and Sommelier and has hand-selected their Wine Spectator award-winning 500+ bottle collection. World-class wines and interesting varietals are stored in a mountainside wine cave. In fact, strolling about the property you could pass the entrance and never know it. It’s a pure pleasure to talk to Eric and have him suggest wine pairings for dinner. On our last visit, Arizona Stronghold’s Dayden rose was lovely with the brussels leaf salad, as was a grenache with that luscious pork belly. Eric has also introduced me to a new favorite white wine. Full-bodied with nice acidity, Falesco Ferentano is made with roscetto, a rare Italian grape grown in only one place by a single producer. You can also take advantage of Eric’s depth of knowledge in choosing the Chef’s Tasting Menu with wine pairings, or attending the Insider’s View Winemaker Dinner. This monthly series introduces a special winemaker and offers an intimate meal prepared tableside by the chef, all enjoyed against the backdrop of that memorable view.
One caveat – befitting it’s spectacular setting, be sure to call ahead before visiting as it may be booked for private parties and celebrations. Still going strong after 25 years, Different Pointe of View with its gorgeous mountaintop location, unforgettable sunsets, and delicious food and wine is a Phoenix destination.
DIFFERENT POINTE OF VIEW
Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort
11111 North 7th Street
Christina Barrueta is an avid Chowhound, passionate about food, wine and spirits. A transplant from Boston, she loves finding new locations to whet her appetite. You may follow her as Rubee on Chowhound.com or @Rubee100 on Twitter.