A new restaurant, SaltRock, is opening this September when Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants unveils its signature dining destination at Amara Resort & Spa in Sedona, Ariz., now undergoing a property-wide redesign, where Chef Massimo De Francesca has just been appointed executive chef.
Chef Massimo is currently the executive chef at Taggia, located at Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, where he showcases coastal Italian cuisine, sourcing local Arizona organic produce, herbs from the on-site garden and top-quality meats and seafood flown in fresh daily. Classic in his training, yet innovative in his approach, Chef Massimo is known for connecting tradition with contemporary musings.
SaltRock will offer Southwest-inspired cuisine marrying the fresh, light and seasonal approach to California cooking with culinary traditions and ingredients of the Southwest and Verde Valley. Drawing on inspiration from the Sonoran Desert and the vibrant city of Scottsdale, Chef Massimo is perfectly at home in this distinct environment.
For Chef Massimo, standouts have already emerged from the menu including Deviled Eggs, chipotle-egg yolk mousse with pasilla maple syrup; King Oyster Mushrooms, confit, charred and marinated in local pine needles and served with warm Mexican chocolate and pinenut gremolata; Mini Bell Peppers, smoked with pecan wood and garnished with spicy aioli; Trout Pâté, local Sedona trout slow roasted over apple wood, made into a pâté and layered in a smoking jar served with toasted baguette; Lamb Tostadas, braised lamb belly, smoked goat cheese and apple-mint chutney and fresh epazote served over freshly made crispy tostadas; Wild So-Cal Swordfish, citrus grilled, layered with tomatillos, pineapple-puree and topped with mango and black bean salsa and Achiote Chicken, marinated organic chicken breast served over jalapeño and cilantro risotto, asparagus, garnished with piñon sauce and pomegranate seeds.
“It has been exciting to dive into the creation of the menu for SaltRock and blend Southwest-inspired flavor with the seasonal approach to California cooking, all while discovering ways to incorporate local, organic ingredients from Sedona and the Verde Valley into each dish,” said Chef Massimo. “I’m looking forward to becoming a part of the Sedona culinary scene and trust that our new restaurant will further enhance the city’s dining experiences.”
The cocktail program at SaltRock will highlight craft margaritas and was created by Kimpton Lead Bartender Jacques Bezuidenhout, who oversees the cocktails and spirits program for Kimpton’s nearly 70 restaurants, bars and lounges across the country. The bar will offer a thoughtful selection of tequila and mezcal, along with a curated selection of other spirits, local wines and craft, domestic and international beer favorites.
SaltRock’s design complements the resort’s new “modern native” design esthetic, which infuses elements of Native American patterns, but reinvented in a contemporary way. With charcoal-colored oak flooring, mix-and-match dining chairs, a live-edge wood communal dining table and banquets upholstered in vintage rugs, the restaurant embodies a timeless and comfortable American vibe and spirit. An art-installation of more than 300 antique spoons, found at flea markets across the country and artfully dipped in a variety of colors, adorn the wall. Lush, green air-plants in ceramic pots hang from ropes and leather straps to create a living wall that separates the restaurant from the resort’s living room to connect the spaces, while still allowing for privacy.
Born in Toronto, Chef Massimo’s international culinary passions have led him to positions in such places as Toronto, Canada; Torino and Cesenatico, Italy; Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands; Washington DC; Manhattan, New York and Dallas, Texas. In addition to his diverse experiences, he has worked under world renowned chefs such as Gianpiero Tondina, Vincenzo Cammeruci, Oscar Tuchi and JP Challet.
Chef Massimo joined Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in 2008 where he has served as executive chef at a variety of restaurants across the country over the years. He moved to Scottsdale to lead the culinary vision at Taggia in 2012, where he has earned numerous accolades including “Top 10 Best Italian Restaurants” by Phoenix Magazine. Kimpton is known for its award-winning collection of seasonally-inspired restaurants and bars lead by creative, local chefs that turn farm-fresh flavors into memorable dishes.
In August, Amara Resort & Spa is preparing to unveil a $1 million redesign of the boutique resort’s 100 spacious guest rooms and suites, common spaces including the living room where guests enjoy complimentary wine hour nightly, the outdoor lounge and the 26,000-gallon infinity edge saltwater pool that overlooks the serene Oak Creek and red rocks. As Kimpton’s newest addition to its Arizona properties, Amara is located in the heart of uptown Sedona. Nestled along Oak Creek, the resort overlooks the Cleopatra Red Rock Formation where Camel Rock and the much-loved Snoopy Rock are in perfect view.
While Amara is just steps from the hustle and bustle of Sedona’s uptown shopping, dining and cultural hub, the resort is situated below the main area, nestled on the banks of the creek, which makes it feel worlds away.
To learn more about Kimpton’s Amara Resort & Spa, visit www.amararesort.com or call 928-282-4828.