The secret to Primo's ever-fresh Mediterranean dinners lies not in the kitchen, but beneath the patio. There, a terraced garden grows the vegetables and fruits that Chef Melissa Kelly?a
two-time James Beard Award winner (2013 and 1999)?harvests for the day's menu. Its lush tiers mimic those found beside Italian villas, abounding with tomatoes and flavorful herbs. It's a living sign of the restaurant's devotion to organic, local foods, and what Chef Kelly doesn't source from its plants, she finds through other local purveyors: Sleeping Frog Farms, for example, or farming members of the Tohono O'dam Native American Nation.
The produce and meats from these places come together in dishes inspired by France, Spain, and Italy. Dinner plates mix tagliatelle pasta with bolognese, or pair seared diver scallops with Nueske bacon-peach compote. A brick oven also cooks Naples-style pizzas, decorated in toppings that are chosen by the chef instead of plucked at random from unattended colanders. Viewed through the dining-room windows or the patio's edge, the surrounding mountains and cacti immerse diners in the desert's natural beauty, while the lights of Tucson glimmer in the distance.