Writer Shoshana Leon

Photography Courtesy of the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa

[dropcap]D[/dropcap]eseo means “desire” in Spanish, and once you experience deseo restaurant at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, you will desire to experience more of the nuevo Latino restaurant’s fresh and flavorful dishes.

Deseo opened in 2003. Three years ago, Derek Biazo, a talented young chef with Arizona roots and experience at high-end restaurants, joined deseo. In 2018, Chef Biazo and the deseo team transformed the menu to highlight small plates featuring South American cuisine with Asian influences.

“Nuevo Latino is a cuisine that highlights and focuses on the traditional flavors of South America, while allowing the freedom and creativity to try new things,” said Biazo. 

“The decision to transform the menu was a collaborative effort. We explored a variety of ideas and techniques. We thought it would be great to offer new concepts such as anticuchos, which are skewers of meat that are popular in Peru. With the addition of small plates, the menu provides a broader range of items to try in one meal with a wide variety of different proteins, textures and flavor profiles.”

Deseo is open for dinner nightly. The menu includes Peruvian ceviche dishes, which marinate for much less time than Mexican ceviche. Deseo’s fresh ceviche options include tuna belly with seaweed salad and cilantro salsa verde, sea bass with sweet potato and Peruvian leche de tigre, and hamachi with truffle ponzu and rocoto chile pearls. Anticuchos include pork belly with sweet sake miso and shishito peppers, and Alaskan king crab with chile garlic butter. The Peruvian fried chicken, with a ginger scallion marinade served with a rocoto sweet chile sauce, is one of the most popular items on the new menu.

Small plates selections from land, sea and farm include Wagyu short rib with yuca hash browns and roasted pineapple chimichurri, mustard plantain-crusted Colorado lamb loin with creamy quinoa, Hokkaido scallops with brown butter and chorizo lima bean ragout, and a crispy quinoa cake with roasted corn smoked pepper relish. A surf and turf dinner for two includes Arizona prime beef tenderloin, jumbo shrimp, Kurobuta pork, vegetables and several varieties of chimichurri.   

Longtime deseo favorites remain on the menu, including millionaire tacos, a ceviche with lobster and ahi tuna served in yuca taco shells, and Wagyu hanger steak served with potatoes, beech mushrooms and Argentine chimichurri. Deseo’s popular chocolate cigar with cappuccino gelato also remains on the menu in addition to new desserts crafted by Chef Biazo including dulce de leche flan, chocolate ganache with coconut and mango, and the Oasis featuring lemon sorbet, pineapple and milk marshmallow.

Deseo’s Muddle Bar offers a line of sipping rums, rum flights and creative cocktails. Deseo has an extensive wine list, featuring several South American wines, that has won awards from both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. 

“The beverage program at deseo is a perfect complement to the cuisine,” said Chef Biazo. “Paralleling the culinary creations, the beverages are fresh and feature traditional flavors as inspiration.”

Descansar (which means “rest” in Spanish), deseo’s happy hour, is available from 5:30 to 7 p.m. nightly with discounts on ceviche, draft beer, wine and specialty cocktails.

In addition to a beautiful dining room appointed with colorful, abstract paintings by Nelson Garcia-Miranda, a Cuban artist who was once a dishwasher at the resort, the restaurant features an open kitchen with 12 seats to allow diners to watch Chef Biazo and his team prepare deseo’s stunning dishes. 

“From the very first step guests take into our restaurant, they’re met with a distinctly nuevo Latino feel and ambience,” said Chef Biazo. “As a centerpiece in deseo, we have an exposition kitchen where guests have the opportunity to see and experience everything we are doing in and around the kitchen. What our culinary team is doing with food with flavors is truly special.”

A native of Kingman, Arizona, Chef Biazo discovered a love for fine dining as a teen when his relatives took him on a trip to Quebec where he was introduced to French cuisine, from truffles to foie gras. He studied culinary arts at Scottsdale Community College and served as executive chef at the Bay Area’s award-winning Alexander’s Steakhouse, a classic American steakhouse with Japanese influences. Chef Biazo also worked at acclaimed Arizona restaurants, including elements at Sanctuary Resort and Spa, and Top of the Rock at The Buttes in Tempe.

“I would describe my culinary style as refined cuisine with bold flavors and creative approaches,” said Chef Biazo. “Working at high-end establishments with superior product has brought my style to a great place, inclusive of the way I approach food, my management style and the culinary philosophy I like to focus on.

Chef Biazo’s bold flavors, creativity and experience working with quality, fresh ingredients are evident in deseo’s dishes. From fresh ingredients and thoughtful flavor combinations to beautiful presentation, deseo’s small plates and variety allow diners to enjoy several items and try new things in an inviting atmosphere.