Arriba can be defined as an exclamation of approval or elation. Certainly with the unbeatable views from our dinner table that is an appropriate name.
Even before entering the space we are immediately struck by its openness; the floor-to-ceiling windows that run the length of the restaurant and provide an awesome view of the stadium; and the iridescent accent of colours from the bar to the seating. At the very least this place deserves a look.
Once seated, we can't help gazing though the
glass at the world of activity within the Roger's Centre. Even when there is no game, it is still a very interesting and unexpected site to see the construction or tearing down of a set or turf. This is not an ordinary space, and what we see is not an ordinary view. When the dome is open, especially at breakfast, all the natural light pours through and provides quite a unique ambiance.
While the menu is a Mediterranean concept, it still offers the classics that people want when they come to a sporting event. Executive chef Mark Ezrin knows that no matter how the teams are doing, the food has to be a winner.
To lead off, the Grilled Shrimp ($10), accompanied by arugula and a cucumber salsa, are half a dozen large and tasty, fresh-off-the-charcoal morsels in lemon vinaigrette. Handmade in-house Spanish Meatballs ($8) are prepared in a red wine tomato sauce that is savoury enough to be scooped up with a crunchy crostini.
The signature dish here and one that is deservedly popular is the mouthwatering Crispy Half Chicken ($28). Crisp, tender, richly spiced and juicy in a Harisssa marinade, this North African flavouring is not too spicy, but very clean and exotic, with notes of cumin, lemon, caraway, and pepper. A healthy mound of Swiss chard is steamed, and not buttery-much appreciated. Mild and creamy, the ragout of white bean is an appropriate and tasteful contrast to the spice of the chicken. This dish is a homerun.
The Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon ($24) began in Chef Ezrin's home kitchen. "I started cooking it at home and my wife loved itÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.She's my biggest critic," he tells me. With that stamp of approval we feel confident ordering it. Indeed it is a well cooked salmon; juicy, and enhanced by its accompanying ingredients of tomato, olive, lemon, parsley, and a chorizo that provides a welcome hint of smokiness. The olive and tomato ragout, and base of orzo pasta upon which the salmon sits, round out this very satisfying entrée.
A dessert worthy of being the closer is the Home Made Bread Pudding ($7). Made with croissants, blackberries, white and dark chocolate, and sauced in bourbon and caramel, this makes a blissful courtship of my sweet tooth.
While price points are reasonable, talking points are plenty. Nine flat screen televisions, including one large screen, are mounted throughout the 200 seat restaurant and private dining area. The feed from the stadium Jumbo Tron is piped in, so all the screens and speakers provide the same commentary and replay of player stats. With parking at the Roger's Centre, or valet at the Renaissance Hotel, this is an easily accessed spot; and whether watching batting practice, an event, or imagining it all, it is a uniquely fun and contemporary setting for a good meal that scores with or without the game.