RANCHO MIRAGE, Ca – “We were one of the first restaurants to introduce prix fix menus. Choosing a menu is difficult because we already have our 3 Course Feast. We elaborate on it by offering items that are already popular and larger portions for value,” said Willie Rhine, general manager of Acqua Pazza (Italian for crazy water) in Rancho Mirage, about 15 minutes from Palm Springs.
A large and diverse regular menu offers lots of classics such as seafood chowder, minestrone soup, chicken tenders, roasted artichoke, iceberg wedge, fried calamari, pizzas, sandwiches, omelettes, salmon, pasta and more. Reasonably priced and family friendly, patio seating along the “river” provides a wonderful place to dine and people watch.
“We’ve always been on top of what people want. We have vegetarian, gluten free and other health conscious items. We’ve just added a quinoa stuffed acorn squash with a fig orange sauce,” Rhine said. Vegetarians will love this satisfying dish of protein-rich quinoa tossed with raisins and nuts. A hint of heat adds interest to the sweetness of the fruit sauce.
Specialty cocktails, happy hour and live entertainment keep the restaurant humming throughout the evening.
Rhine’s own favorites include the curried chicken salad, the wild mushroom soup (see recipe) and the Belgian chocolate cake made with Callebaut.
The hard working manager moved to the U.S. from Scotland 27 years ago and has been in the desert 14 years. “I came for a vacation and didn’t want to go home,” he said. He’s very conscious of details from his background in hospitality and catering but prior to that he owned a theater and produced shows. “We have 125 people on staff. I try to keep them focused even on small things,” Rhine said.
Not lost on Rhine is the similarity restaurants have to theater. “It’s like show business. The best advice I ever got was to smile. I have to remember they’re looking at me. It’s just I’ve got so much on my mind,” he said.
Plans are underway for a new restaurant in Palm Springs called Lulu. “It’s a short name, easy to pronounce. It’s very Palm Springs: modern, chic and sexy,” he said.
Restaurant week menu $24
Choice of house wine or virgin margarita
Minestrone classic vegetable medley
Wild mushroom soup with touch of white truffle olive oil and chives
Organic field greens with orange vinaigrette
Caesar salad with shaved imported Parmesan cheese
Sauteed sand dabs with lemon caper sauce, Yukon gold mashed potatoes & vegetable medley
Lobster ravioli stuffed with lobster meat and light tomato basil cream sauce
Filet mignon with peppercorn sauce, Yukon gold mashed potatoes & vegetable medley
Flourless triple chocolate cake
Vanilla or cappuccino ice cream
71-800 Highway 111
Rancho Mirage, CA 92264
Linda Mensinga was editor of Culinary Trends for 15 years, now a contributing writer. If you have a great restaurant, recipe or food you’d like to share please send an email. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Linda@culinarytrends.net.
Read more of Linda’s work at Culinary Quest in the Communities at the Washington Times.
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