Prego - New Italian Chef Revives Authenticity With Inspired Menu Creations
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
My last major review of Prego Italian Restaurant, located in the Westin Resort Guam, was in October 2001. I made an observation then about how everything we ate was excellent. Since that time there had been a few changes which affected Prego's culinary primacy. However, I'm glad to report that things have improved, especially now that there's a new Italian chef at the helm! Yes, we are pleased to welcome Denis Schiavo, Prego's new Chef de Cuisine, who had arrived earlier this year after a 5-year stint at the Sheraton Sapporo. Chef Schiavo hails from Venice and he brings with him an exciting line-up of genuine Italian creations that reveal the rich culinary heritage of his homeland.
If you've not been to Prego within the past year or so, you'll notice some changes in the decor. For example, the mural of the medieval Tuscany Palio horse race is gone and replaced by a gallery of classic black & white real life period images captured by well-known photographers. This gives Prego a more modern, contemporary feel as opposed to holding on to the fabled illusions of an Old World past. These intriguing images celebrate people all in varying, thought provoking poses. Art, like food, engages the senses and stimulates the mind. In Prego, food is the artwork that engages our passions and satisfies our gastronomic desires.
Our culinary art "excursion" started with a hot slice of fresh-baked, rosemary-infused focaccia bread topped with melted mozzarella, which we dipped in olive oil. I was joined by Westin Executive Chef Andreas Lorenz and a colleague, Orleyne, who has shared several review meals with me. Our server, Matt, was a familiar face, since he was the same proficient server who handled us five years ago! He filled our glasses with a crisp Orvieto Classico Antinori white wine that paired well with our entire meal, which spanned six courses. We also refreshed our palates with sparkling San Pellegrino.
The first appetizer, Marinated Tuna Mediterranean Style ($16) arrived. The seared fresh ahi was sliced and bathed in Tuscany olive oil with drizzles of balsamic on a bed of greens. This was a delicate, perfectly seasoned light preparation which enhanced the natural flavor of the fish.
Next we had the Assorted Antipasto ($17), which had fresh mozzarella on a tomato, topped with a tomato mousse crowned by a basil leaf, Parma ham, and a seafood salad combination made with prawns, octopus, mussel and tuna on a bed of greens accented with pesto and balsamic dressings. We decided to jump from the sea into the oven and had the Pizza Prosciutta Funghi ($19), with mushrooms, parma ham, marinara, and mozzarella. Prego's stone hearth oven makes a pizza crust you won't forget, and the pizza was consumed quickly with pizza lover's zeal.
The pizza was followed by the Ravioli al Granchio ($22), with beautifully colored green and white stripped homemade ravioli stuffed with crabmeat on lobster sauce. In the center of the dish were sauteed shrimp. This ravioli was exceptional.
Our second pasta dish was the Fettuccine Aragosta ($22). One of the more popular dishes on Prego's new menu, it is made with lobster, asparagus, and lobster sauce. This was one of the more complex dishes we ate, since all the elements were blended together, yet bound by the flavorful lobster sauce. The pasta was specially formulated for Prego, and had a thick, chewy texture that released a unique flavor with each bite. This dish has a generous amount of lobster chunks throughout.
Our final entree was probably my favorite, in great part because I enjoy the Italian way of celebrating the ocean's bounty in hearty soups with vegetables, and that's really what made this dish so special. It was the Acqua Pazza ($36), which has sea bass that's pan-fried and placed in a savory soup broth with clams, green and black olives, capers, asparagus, broccoli, cherry tomatoes and basil. This dish exemplifies where fine art and fine dining meet. Every spoonful of this delightfully conceived entree was appreciated.
We ended our Prego dining adventure with a simple, but decadent, Tiramisu ($6), which blended cognac, ladyfingers, and mascarpone cheese in enchanting proportions.
Prego's menu offers a diverse range of selections, and for the individual diner, it may be difficult to sample a variety of dishes similar to what we had for our review. Fortunately, on Friday and Saturday Prego offers a special Antipasti Buffet ($35) which has a selection of appetizers and soup of the day from a constantly replenished buffet table, and a main course choice served at your table, which could be Fettuccine Pescatora or Pizza of the Day. Or, for $45, you could upgrade to a Baked Seabass or Grilled Beef Tenderloin. The price includes Orvieto Classico White or Ruffino Chianti Red wines. Not a bad deal!
Prego serves dinner nightly from 6-10 p.m. Prego's affable manager is hospitality veteran Ricky Baba, who will make you feel right at home when you visit. Reservations are recommended by calling 647-1020. Try Prego Italian Restaurant for an extraordinary dining adventure!