Writer Amanda Christmann
Photography Courtesy of Dahl Restaurant Group

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]rom the breathtaking beauty of the red rocks, to the scent of sage- and mesquite-covered mesas, to the soul-soothing sounds of the high desert, for many, Sedona is a cathedral without walls. Love is the doctrine here, and it is spoken in one thousand different languages.

On West Sedona’s Highway 89A, where gift stores, crystal shops and art studios line the streets, Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano is speaking one of those love languages beautifully and with perfection. Food is the love language spoken here, and every dish is seasoned with a delicious dash of romance.

It’s no surprise, coming from owner and award-winning chef, Lisa Dahl. Every recipe is cultivated from memories and inspired by her childhood in an Italian family.

Opened in 1995, Dahl & DiLuca was the first of what will soon be six of Dahl’s sister restaurants, each with their own style and cuisine. Now, over two decades later, Dahl & Di Luca has grown to be a classy, timelessly elegant oldest sister.

As Dahl’s first work of culinary genius, Dahl & Di Luca takes on a sophisticated and sensual vibe. A dramatic, dimly lit dining room draped in silk and adorned with gold and silver chandeliers sets the stage. White-clothed tables sprinkled with rose petals are gently lit by votives, and on weekends, top musicians, including world-class pianists, fill the air with sounds as beautiful as the surrounding landscape. It is an intimate, unforgettable experience.

The sights and sounds of Dahl & Di Luca are only the beginning of the appeal; the food is front and center.

There is nothing heavy or cliché about Dahl & Di Luca’s Italian cuisine. Locally sourced, sustainably produced ingredients are key, as is an imaginative, inspired menu. Like an Old World matriarch, Dahl pores over every dish, not only making sure it’s done to perfection, but that impeccable service represents her own brand of excellence.

As one of the top female chefs and restaurateurs in the country, Dahl has hosted not one, but two sold-out dinners at the James Beard House in New York City. She has been a guest on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” and Travel Channel’s “Food Paradise,” and has penned two scrumptious cookbooks, the latest of which will be released in early 2019.

“When I opened Dahl & Di Luca in the ‘90s, I wanted to create a sophisticated supper club that lovers and companions would continually come back to for special moments and celebrations,” said Dahl. She has done so, with moxie.

She often greets guests in her trademark couture—making stylish statements of designer chef’s coats and heels. Her reputation for perfectionism is evident by the loving attention given to every plate that comes out of the kitchen. Like a hidden layer of flavor, her spark of ingénue covers each dish like magical gravy. For Dahl, food is a true expression from her heart, and here she shines.

Pastas are light and delicate, and the vegetable dishes are just as decadent as the flaky fish or tender rack of lamb. No matter the dish, every bite is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and intentionally so.

Among the many favorites are Pollo Alla Rustica ($38), house-made fettuccine with grilled lemon chicken, baby spinach and sautéed mushrooms in a delicately infused white truffle cream sauce; Agnello Scottadito ($28), succulent Australian rack of lamb chops marinated with lemon and fresh herbs grilled to perfection; and Vitello Picatta ($20), sautéed scaloppini of veal in a delicate lemon-caper and chardonnay sauce with orzo pilaf.

A vast selection of over 1,000 wines is indulgence at its finest, and it, too, has set Dahl & Di Luca apart in fine dining. Wine Spectator has recognized its wine collection, which is focused on European varietals from France, Spain and Italy, with awards of excellence for 13 years. In addition, the bar’s hand-crafted cocktails are worth the trip on their own.

Now through Nov. 30, enjoy Dahl & Di Luca’s Romanticismo Decadente menu, a four-course, prix-fixe selection priced from $65 per person. With options for meat-lovers and vegetarians, courses feature an antipasti of the Caprese d’ Amore and Arancini; a primi of Ravioli Romana; and an entrée choice of Vitello Picatta or Prawns Fiorentina. The experience concludes with a nightcap of limoncello and house-made Lemon Lavender Panna Cotta.

It’s a tried-and-true recipe for romance, unusually rare in today’s often hipster-inspired and -focused restaurant scene. Dahl & Di Luca prepares the kind of food that makes the outside world fade away, leaving guests focused on the moment—on the food, the music, and the memories being made.


Dahl & Di Luca’s Romanticismo Decadente Menu

Through Nov. 30

5:00–9:00 p.m. daily

Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano

2321 Highway 89A, Sedona

$65+ per person