Pa’La: Modern tapas spot
Pa’La is a creative, Italian-leaning, Japanese-accented, unbelievably interesting restaurant where the only move is to roll up with friends, order a host of small dishes and split them all.
The menu at the new Pa’La has a definite Japanese aesthetic to it, with an emphasis on thoughtfully sourced seafood, both cooked and raw in sashimi-like crudos.
Chef Jason Alford combines his love of Asian food with Mediterranean flavors. “Our menu changes seasonally,” Alford explained. “Primarily, it’s Mediterranean with a Japanese twist.” Alford said they focus on seafood, steak and vegetables, making it “a really simple approach to quality food.”
Everything is cooked on a wood-fired oven. “We don’t have a traditional oven or kitchen, it’s all wood-fired, and we use Arizona wood,” Alford said. “The wood-fired oven kind of forces us to be a little more creative. I think it has a unique flavor to it, that flavor you can’t replicate.”
“Check, Please! Arizona” guest Todd Gibbons loves dining at Pa’La. “One of the things we enjoy about it is it’s such a relaxing atmosphere,” he said. “They have a wood-fired oven and a big wood deck patio.”
For dinner, Gibbons recommends the salami and pecorino sandwich with the schiacciata bread. “I typically go for the sandwiches. They are different from sandwiches at any other restaurant,”Gibbons said. “They warm it up in their wood oven, and the cold meat with the warm bread, it’s just really nice and tasty.”
Guest Nancy Griffiths orders the socca, which is a small, round pancake almost like a tortilla but more of a Spanish bread, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs. “It was delicious,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths also tried the roasted polenta covered with a tomato jam and the bowl of mussels and shrimp. “The mussels, you could tell they were fresh, the shrimp was delicious, I loved every bite of it,” she said.
Guest Kasey Denny, who had never heard of Pa’La, said he was pretty impressed and surprised by it. “Just the type of food that they offered and a lot of different options under the tapas list was new for me,” Denny said.
Denny ordered the Cavatelli pasta with tomato sauce and the roasted polenta, both of which he said “were just great.”
Post tapas, a sweet treat is in order. Panna cotta, chocolate cookies and the squash pie are all timeless favorites.
Regarding the environment, Pa’La is described as a comfortable spot. There are about ten tables inside and more seating on a multi-level patio. You feel tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the city.