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Chef Josh Mouzakes of Arlo restaurant in San Diego’s Town and Country Resort.
Chef Josh Mouzakes of Arlo restaurant in San Diego’s Town and Country Resort.
ColumnsFood & WineTaste of Wine

Chef Josh Mouzakes showcases creative mastery at Arlo

At the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, Taste of Wine was able to meet chef Josh Mouzakes at the Arlo restaurant booth along with Kathleen Kubota, Town and Country’s area director of marketing.

After trying Mouzakes’ samples at the festival, I knew that Arlo would be on our short list of restaurants to go and visit. Plus, it has been years since I was at the Town and Country Resort.

Wow, has it changed with the renovation and modernization efforts — a night and day contrast — and it was only fitting that Town and Country brought in a creative wizard like Mouzakes to lead Arlo.

Over dinner, I was telling Frank that Mouzakes does for food what Walt Disney did for animations.

In talking to Mouzakes at dinner, his vision for Arlo is that the food and beverage program “is not constrained by boundaries.” Despite being in his 30s, Mouzakes’ resume is impressive and includes time at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry.

He also trained under other world-renowned chefs, including Guy Reuge at New York’s Mirabelle Restaurant in The Three Villages Inn and Joel Robuchon at his restaurant in the MGM Grand Las Vegas.

“Under Chef Reuge, nine courses changed daily. I constantly meet with servers to perfect entrees based on customer feedback,” Mouzakes said.

Chef Josh Mouzakes trained world-renowned chefs, including Guy Reuge and Joel Robuchon. Photo by Rico Cassoni
Chef Josh Mouzakes trained world-renowned chefs, including Guy Reuge and Joel Robuchon. Photo by Rico Cassoni

Mirabelle and his other experiences were perfect for shaping the creativity and imagination that Arlo sought.

Frank and I started dinner with the Funghi Flatbread topped with forest mushrooms, goat cheese, and herb truffle oil. The combo of these three on the flatbread was a flavor explosion.

Frank had a glass of the 2021 Willamette Valley Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, noting the whole cluster made it “chewy and bold” with strawberry and cherry. I went with the 2021 Daou Chardonnay that blended with goat cheese and truffle oil.

Our server convinced us to order the swordfish bacon, and I am glad he did. The swordfish bacon is cured in sugar and salt for two days and then dried for two to three weeks before a light treatment of smoke. The bacon is served with a freshly made rye wheat pretzel twist garnished with pickled mustard seed and a mustard frill flower.

For dinner, it was a hard choice between the T&C Pasta (beef tongue, beef cheek, oxtail, caraway seed tagliatelle, tomato marmalade and lemon ricotta), and the bison tenderloin with black garlic potatoes, heirloom cauliflower, ginger marmalade and mission fig. I decided on the bison and kept my wine selections from Paso Robles with a glass of the 2020 Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bison tenderloin with black garlic potato, heirloom cauliflower, and mission fig at Arlo restaurant.Photo by Rico Cassoni
Bison tenderloin with black garlic potato, heirloom cauliflower, and mission fig at Arlo restaurant. Photo by Rico Cassoni

I was impressed that Arlo had Daou 2018 Soul of the Lion by the bottle on the wine menu as its top-tier wine. The bison was amazingly flavorful, lean, and an excellent pairing for the Austin Hope. But I owe it to myself to return to Arlo for the T&C Pasta.

Frank had the brick-oven Bolognese, one of the “Center of the Table” heavy appetizers, for his dinner. Like the T&C Pasta, this was chocked full of flavors with beef, veal, pork, fennel seed, and rose tomato sauce clinging to the ridges of the rigatoni pasta topped with pecorino cheese.

This was served on a semolina crust. Some carbs here, but it was Italian comfort food like no other. With the boldness of the whole cluster pinot, Frank did a second glass with his Italian masterpiece.

Chef Josh’s creativity flowed into Arlo’s desserts. We had the Cheesecake S’mores made from graham crust, vanilla cheesecake, chocolate ganache and toasted marshmallow, and the Smoked Dulce De Leche Crème Brulée topped with macerated berries and mace whip cream.

The crème brulée was covered with a glass dome filled with smoke. The dome is pulled off when served at the table with the smoke infused into the dessert.

Way to go, Town and Country, for your renovation and extending this into the Arlo restaurant under the leadership of Mouzakes. If, after reading this column, you are wondering if Arlo is open for Christmas Dinner, you are in luck. Mouzakes has put together two, three-course, prix fixe dinner options, one for $80 and the other $65. More details at arlosandiego.com.

— Story by Rico Cassoni

Wine Bytes

  • Party it up for New Year’s at Flora Kitchen & Bar. Proprietor Sal Ercolano has a great night in store with music from Barry Cohen starting at 8 p.m., a balloon drop, champagne toast, and late-night snacks. RSVP at 858.461.0622.
  • Ring in 2023 with TV Master Chef Brian Malarkey at his Herb & Wood restaurant. One of San Diego’s hottest restaurants will transform its venue into a New Year’s Eve party with an open dance floor, fire dancers, and chef-curated bites. Bring your best party outfit and dress to impress. Tickets are $50 per person and include two DJs, a Champagne toast, and an epic NYE countdown. RSVP at bit.ly/3hH1u41.

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