Sunday Drive: Romantic River Memories Need Not be a Mirage

February 17, 2009
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When I have Vegas fever, but lack the energy to drive 300 miles, I make the relatively short drive to the Palm Springs area. It’s sort of a compromise – parsimony with palm trees. I can enjoy a fun restaurant or two without the lure of dropping a hundred dollars playing slots while standing in line for a buffet, although sadly there are casinos in the California desert as well.

riverwalk1My favorite getaway is actually in nearby Rancho Mirage at a place called Acqua Pazza, along the famous “River” in Rancho Mirage. It’s romantic and family-friendly at the same time – and the prices are remarkably reasonable. And the menu goes on and on, longer than even the long-winded Joe Biden.

In fact, the restaurant would make more money if it shortened the menu, because patrons like myself dilly-dally so long over what to order – should I have the wood roasted Maui onion soup or the fresh seafood chowder, the skewer of peppered filet mignon strips or the Portobello mushroom tower, the fried oysters or the Maryland crab cakes – and that’s just for the starters.

At Pieros Acqua, you can order just about anything – omelets, lettuce wraps, seafood, entrée salads, designer pizzas, shooters, steamers, pastas, paninis and a vast selection of meats – chicken, steak, lamb and duck from the rotisserie.

Colleen and I finally tried a few items while regretting we couldn’t order everything. The fish taco was crunchy and delicious, the chicken salads were divine, the Kobe burgers were plump and perfectly seasoned and the crab cakes were loaded with chunks of tender crab meat. Only the chicken skewer was a little dry.

Best of all, you can enjoy your meal while enjoying the stunning mountain views from the restaurant’s beautiful restaurant terrace. The desserts that the wait staff kept carrying past our table looked tempting and delicious but on the way back we told ourselves we were stopping at Hadley’s to split a date shake. It’s always been a tradition with us and the perfect night cap to a perfect, easy drive to the desert, without regretting whether I should have split a pair of nines at the blackjack table in Las Vegas.

Pieros Acqua is located at 71-800 Hwy 111 in Rancho Mirage. For more information, call (760) 862-9800. Hadley Fruit Orchard is located at 48960 Seminole Drive in Cabazon, close to a casino and outlet shops, so beware!

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