By Daniel Paris
Connie and Vince Cultraro created La Spiga modeled after a Tuscan villa surrounded by fruit trees and multiple gardens. Chef Vince Cultraro keeps the cuisine true to his Sicilian roots by making everything from scratch including many herbs grown on the property. Only Scicilan sea salt and locally source organic meats and vegetables are used to prepare deep-flavored stocks and sauces. Seafood, featuring Branzino, is wild-caught and delivered fresh daily.
The entry invites you to an elegant, spacious dining room with plush upholstered chairs, white linen coved tables, Mediterranean themed artwork, and tasteful flower arrangements. A large limestone fireplace anchors the center of the dining area. A small, cozy bar occupies a space near the entry.
Windows frame stunning views of the surrounding gardens, gazebos with the spectacular backdrop of the local mountains. The one hundred ten degree temperature kept us from dining al fresco. I cannot think of a comparable setting for outdoor dining.
The menu has the familiar Italian menu format of Antipasti, Primi, and Secondi. Antipasti offer fresh Buffalo mozzarella with pear, fresh fig, and dressed with a balsamic reduction, a classic caprese with burrata mozzarella, and several lettuce salads. Classics prosciutto and melon, carpaccio of beef tenderloin with a house made herb mustard dressing, and carpaccio of octopus dressed with a lemon infused olive oil. Several lettuce based salads are offered as well as house made soups.
The Primi include several seafood pastas, Spaghetti Bolognese, rigatoni with shaved beef tenderloin in a light tomato and demi-glace reduction penne with house made pork sausage in a tomato and roasted garlic sauce.
The Secondi, or main course, includes rack of lamb, chicken breast and eggplant, three preparations of veal scaloppini, beef tenderloin, a 16 oz. rib eye, grilled Skuna Bay salmon, and their famous Branzino prepared as fillets or the whole fish boned tableside. The Branzino is flown in fresh daily and is truly exquisite.
Our server, Santiago, provided me with an interesting answer to why the rest aunt is named La Spiga, which translated, means “the Ear.” He promptly brought out a stalk of wheat and explained the top that houses the wheat kernels Italians refer to as “La Spiga.” La Spiga qualifies as a special occasion night out.
La Spiga Ristorante Italian
72557 Hwy. 111
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Tuesday – Saturday 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm