everyday inspiration

Petit Bistro {restaurant review}

As a New Year’s resolution for my blog, I’ve decided to start doing northwest Arkansas reviews. I pride myself in being that person anyone can come to and ask about the newest restaurant in town, or where to purchase _____. So, to kick off the new year reviews: Petit Bistro. As you might remember, husband and I decided to have a quiet NYE (New Year’s Eve: The Most Overrated Night of the Year) and started it with a four-course meal at said restaurant.


Left to right: Lentil & Black-eyed Pea Soup; Warm Wilted Spinach Salad w/Bacon, Cranberries, Molasses Vinaigrette; Ribeye w/Shitake Compound Butter Served with Garlic/Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes and Zucchini & Squash Julienne; Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon

Not pictured: Chocolate Lava Souffle w/Vanilla Ice Cream and Macerated Berries

The meal was divine and the atmosphere was exactly what we were looking for – romantic and quiet, with character. Instead of re-writing all my thoughts on Petit Bistro, below is the article I wrote for AY Magazine. Enjoy.

 * * *


There’s a secret in northwest Arkansas. It’s hidden behind a rustic, stone building in Bentonville and hosts business executives, wine connoisseurs and date-night couples who casually enjoy a relaxed, elegant atmosphere.

Nearly hidden among the trees on eight acres of land, Petit Bistro sits just off North Walton Boulevard, just before the street crosses into Bella Vista. Walking past the picturesque setting outdoors with twinkle lights scattered in the trees, it’s like stepping into another world outside of the Ozarks.

The warm brown and gold pantones invite customers into the hidden gem. Petit beige curtains line the windows, and unique oval-shaped lights provide a magical feel as they shimmer onto the ceiling and walls, revealing antique décor that feels rustic, yet upscale.

To add to the cultural ambiance, there’s the unmistakable accent coming from owner Dario Amini. Usually found behind the bar chatting with customers, Amini’s accent is difficult to place. Not French or Italian, but German, with influences from his Iranian father and Italian mother.

Amini was born in Germany, lived in Iran and Italy, but most recently spent 20 years in Los Angeles. He started four gourmet quick-serve restaurants in L.A. An alternative to the food court, these upscale cafes opened near high-end stores and served home-baked pastries, international cuisine and a full-service espresso bar.

Moving to northwest Arkansas because of friends and family, he expected to open a larger restaurant, but when he saw the population and culture of the town, he decided on something a little more quaint.

“With all the changes in northwest Arkansas culturally, with Crystal Bridges and the Walton Arts Center, you’ve seen a shift for better-quality restaurants and retail shops,” Amini said. “It’s slowly starting to manifest itself that way. We timed it correctly, by chance, and people are enjoying us as part of the community.”

Open since April 2010, Petit Bistro offers something for every palate. A “fusion of different cultures” Amini mixes Italian, Spanish, French, Lebanese and Moroccan into the menu. With no boundaries for the types of food he can create, Amini simply gets inspiration from his mother’s cooking, all the places he’s lived and visited and great restaurants from Aspen, Colo., to New York City.

“I have these ideas in my head, so whenever a dish comes to my mind, I try to get as close to it as possible, re-creating it in the kitchen,” he said.

Unafraid to try out new dishes, Petit Bistro is famous for their unusual specials, including Swordfish and Shrimp Vera Cruz Pasta; Lamb Lollipops over Mason Salad and Fingerling Potatoes; and Crab Cake Burgers with cheese, avocado and chipotle.

A staple on the menu, and just about everyone’s favorite, is the Cheesecake Du Jour, which has included a variety of flavors, everything from limoncello, rum raisin, avocado vanilla bean (the most incredible cheesecake I’ve ever eaten) to chocolate chip peanut butter. It could be a hit or miss, but it’s hard to mess up cheesecake, Amini insisted.

To pair with the cheesecake and the variable menu, Petit Bistro boasts an extensive wine list featuring domestic and international wines from $19 to $883 a bottle.

For dinner the menu is separated into Petit Plates, Salades, Pizza Rustique, Grand Petit Plates and Desserts. Though we recommend checking out the cheesecake of the day, you can’t go wrong with the Bread Pudding Au Chocolate, which has more of a brownie consistency, or the Bistro Crème Brulee, the best in northwest Arkansas.


Photo courtesy of Beth Hall

The Petit Plates include burgers, smoked salmon, grilled brie     and the beautifully-plated Pan Seared Tuna Tower ($15). Placed between crispy wontons, the tuna is encrusted with sesame seeds giving it a unique Asian flavor and includes wasabi aioli, pickled ginger and soy on the side.

For the Grand Petit Plates, the Braised Pork Osso Bucco ($36) is a must-see and a must-eat. Osso bucco — Italian for bone with a hole — is typically a veal dish. The braised pork is so tender it falls off the bone into the surrounding, rich sauce enhanced by porcini mushrooms and fresh grilled vegetables. The Lebanese Lamb Chops ($32) is another unique item on the menu, mostly due to the Israeli cous cous. Larger than typical cous cous, the vegetable is similar to rice with a dense consistency and pairs well with the lamb chops.

Whether for an evening of drinks and dessert, a quiet dinner inside or a get-together on the patio with live music, Petit Bistro is a delicacy of northwest Arkansas.


2 responses

  1. Mom

    Can’t wait to get back home to visit Petit Bistro!

    January 3, 2013 at 7:56 am

  2. Pingback: Catch Me If You Can Musical {review} | m.davis

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