Eastern Europe invades Airpark-area at Sonata’s

Eastern Europe invades Airpark-area at Sonata’s

By Kenneth LaFave

The mood is celebratory and the cuisine is high-carb and irresistible at Sonata’s, the newest talk-of-the-town dining experience in the Airpark area.

The owner is Lithuanian and the menu favors eastern European and Russian recipes. If you’ve been hankering for a place that serves Chicken Kiev, borscht and perogies in an elegant setting at moderate prices, this is it.

The owner’s name is Deividas Molocajevas. Call him David.

“Myself, my mother and my stepfather moved here from Lithuania 13 years ago, and we saw there was no eastern European restaurant in Scottsdale,” David recounts.

It took 10 years, but they finally did something about it. The family contacted restaurateur friends in Chicago, fellow Lithuanians with a history of opening successful eateries. They partnered up, and last October, Sonata’s swung wide its doors to an almost immediate rush of enthusiasm.

“We get eastern Europeans coming in who say, ‘Finally! Our food!,’ and we also get Scottsdale foodies excited for something new,” David says.

You may think the restaurant is named after the musical form employed by Mozart and Beethoven, but you’d be wrong.

“Sonata is my mother’s name, and she is one of the best cooks, ever,” says her prideful son.

The menu items are “about a 50-50 split” between David’s mother’s native recipes, and variations of that cuisine by executive chef Josh Bracher.

“Josh has done an excellent job of adapting eastern European recipes for Scottsdale in terms of presentation,” David explains.

The crowd on a recent Friday night was testimony to that. A large dining room full of excited customers enjoyed Chicken Kiev (at $17, Sonata’s most popular dish), authentic borscht with meatballs ($10), a range of seafood entrees and a stroganoff made with smoked beef ribs ($22).

It’s also possible for a social pair or group to make a fine repast from small plates and salads, which my companion and I chose to do. Protein dieters be warned, however: The word “potato” shows up more often on the menu than any other. “Bread” is a close second.

We tried the unique Kepta Duona ($8), pieces of crisp, dark-rye bread tossed in duck fat aioli, drizzled with Havarti and assembled as a tower. It’s hard to stop eating these. Maybe it’s the duck fat, but each bite invites another.

A caprese salad ($13) was a match for any gourmet caprese, with a melt-in-your-mouth buffula cheese and an amazing tomato jam, accompanied by toast.

The oddly named “Funeral” Potatoes ($12) was a tiny, savory casserole of whipped potatoes, two cheeses, smetana (a sour cream) and mushrooms.

The piece de resistance: black-pepper crusted foie gras with whipped dates, goat cheese and prosciutto ($18). After this, you will never settle for chicken pate again.

Sonata’s is open daily for dinner and weekdays for lunch. Music is featured five nights a week, from piano covers of the Great American Songbook to contemporary dance music to (the night we were there) favorite tunes from Lithuania’s close neighbor in cuisine and geography, Russia.

Sonata’s

Address: 10050 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 127
Hours: Mondays-Wednesdays 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Thursdays-Fridays, 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 a.m., and Sundays 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Phone: 480-477-1390
Website: www.sonatasrestaurant.com