Claudio, we hardly knew ya
Word's out that Taggia restaurant is no more, and chef Claudio Urciuoli is splitsville. Is anybody really surprised?
It seems like the guy never really got a chance to show Scottsdale his true vision. Indeed, the preview menu that I blogged about, way back when, was already watered down by the time the eatery opened. (A friend of mine who'd eaten his food before complained, "Looking at the menu, I feel they dumbed down his food big time.")
I'd heard a rave about Urciuoli from a friend who'd eaten food he'd personally cooked for them, but on my one anonymous visit, it was obvious that Claudio wasn't in the kitchen -- he was too busy chitchatting with people at a nearby table. I loved the burrata with roasted tomatoes, but everything else I had that night was completely forgettable. Sadly, I remember more about the annoying waiter who stood around waiting for me to eat my tiramisu, expecting me to be overjoyed or something.
Back in June, just three months after Taggia opened at the recently renamed Firesky Resort, I'd heard that Urciuoli wasn't going to stick around. And indeed, by August, Urciuoli was no longer acting as chef at Taggia, but instead overseeing the menu concept, and splitting his time between Scottsdale and Washington D.C., where he was developing a new restaurant for the Kimpton hotel chain.
The whole thing leaves me more than a little bummed -- the promise of an "ever-changing menu" never became a reality, and what seemed like a promising chef-driven concept hasn't really had anyone at the wheel for awhile.