For lovers of Italian food, heaven lies in Sedona and it’s called Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante Italiano.

Growing up in an Italian family in New York, it’s very hard to find anything that compares with the homemade Italian deliciousness created by the loving hands of my grandmother and great-grandmother.

Chef Lisa Dahl

Then I walked into Dahl & DiLuca. From the moment I bit into Chef Lisa Dahl’s Arancini appetizer — Grandma called them “risotto balls” — it felt like home. Only better.

Chef Dahl, one of Az Business magazine’s Most Influential Women of 2018, is a self-taught chef who was the first to introduce fine dining to Sedona in the late 1990s. Since then, Chef Dahl has built the largest restaurant group in the area and has been featured on The Food Network, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, The New York Times, Travel Channel, Huffington Post, Marie Claire and many more.

What differentiates Chef Dahl’s restaurants is that she makes sure every detail — the decor, the accents, the tables, the staff, the lighting, the live jazz piano, the intimate garden patio — blend together to not only create the perfect dining experience, nut to exceeds expectations.

That’s why dining at one of Chef Dahl’s restaurant has become more than an experience. It’s an event, a treasured memory, no matter how many times you go back to delve into Dahl’s deliciousness.

Beyond the perfect atmosphere that permeates Dahl & DiLuca — it is one of the most romantic restaurants you will experience — it’s the food that draws legions of fans to Chef Dahl’s establishments.

Chef Dahl, who entered the restaurant industry after a successful career in fashion, brings that stylish flair to the menu at Dahl & DiLuca. She takes classic Italian dishes and redefines, refines and makes them her own, creating angelic pastas that are as light and delicate as they are satisfying, decadent vegetable-based dishes and hard-to-find Italian seafood classics. Some cannot-miss menu items:

• A classic Italian bruschetta is a perfect way to start an Italian meal and Dahl & DiLuca takes this staple to a new level of divine.

• The Ravioli Romana — Quattro Formaggio ravioli with portobello and button mushrooms and finished with a decadent truffle cream sauce.

• Chef Dahl puts her twist on a classic with Garganelli Paradiso —artisan-style tubular pasta with portobello mushroom, veggie ragout and topped with chèvre.

• The Pollo al Rosmarino — boneless chicken breast sautéed with pancetta, mushrooms, onions, rosemary-Marsala with gnocchi primavera — is heaven on a plate.

Dahl & DiLuca’s menu is seasonally adjusted to include the freshest ingredients. The restaurant also features an expansive Wine Spectator-recognized wine collection.

But the secret sauce that makes repeated trips to Dahl & DiLuca a must for every foodie is the dynamic Dahl.

“I’m a perfectionist and very devoted to my businesses, you have to be as a restauranteur,” Dahl says. “But in reality, I don’t see myself any different now than when I first started working in the kitchen at Dahl & Di Luca Italiano more than 23 years ago. Most nights, you can find me at any of my four restaurants greeting guests and getting to know the customers. At the end of the day, I’m still a Midwest girl who just believes in the value of putting in a hard day’s work.”