The grilled lamb chops at Viento Kitchen + Bar at Zota Beach Resort embody the restaurant’s unique Florida-Mediterranean flavor. Here’s the story behind the dish, plus the recipe to take home.
Since its opening in June of 2017, Zota Beach Resort’s on-site restaurant, Viento Kitchen + Bar, has already garnered a loyal local following. That’s likely because of the restaurant’s open-air vibe featuring a floating wine wall and sleek fireplace and its unique “Floribbean” flavor, drawing from a blend of Florida, Caribbean, and Mediterranean influences – think roasted chicken saltimbocca, sea scallops over creamy ratatouille parmesan risotto, and blackened jumbo shrimp with crumbled feta.
But the dish that diners have been drooling over most is the grilled Australian lamb chops, served with sun-dried tomato polenta and pistachio mint pesto. The mint pesto is a particularly popular twist, and should be familiar to diners who grew up eating mint jelly with their lamb, though the pesto is a fresher and more refined approach, says Jason Pellett, Viento’s executive chef. Plus, by forgoing the heavy veal demi sauce used in many lamb chop recipes in favor of the pistachio mint pesto, the dish eats well in the Florida heat and doesn’t weigh you down. Here, Pellett outlines the ingredients and recipe needed to recreate this dish at home.
4 lamb chops
TT salt and pepper
Sun-dried Tomato Polenta
12 oz. water
7 oz. milk
2 oz. butter
2 oz. sun-dried tomatoes
3¼ oz. polenta
4 oz. heavy cream
1 tbsp. roasted garlic pesto
1 tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano
2 oz. mascarpone
TT salt and pepper to taste
Pistachio Mint Pesto
1 oz. mint leaves
1 oz. cilantro leaves
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
2 tsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
10 oz. extra virgin olive oil
4 oz. pistachios, toasted
TT salt and pepper
For the Sun-dried Tomato Polenta
1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat water, milk, butter, and tomatoes until boiling.
2. Slowly add polenta, stirring continually for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Mix in heavy cream, roasted garlic pesto, Parmigiano Reggiano, and mascarpone, and keep on low heat until ready to plate.
For the Pistachio Mint Pesto
1. Combine all ingredients except the pistachios in a blender. Blend until smooth.
2. Chop the pistachios until they resemble a rough sand and add to mint mixture.
For the Lamb Chops
1. Season lamb chops and heat a grill pan over high heat until almost smoking.
2. Add chops and sear for about two minutes. Flip the chops over and cook for another three minutes for medium-rare and three-and-a-half minutes for medium.
Putting it All Together
1. Place polenta to one side of plate and drag across to create a teardrop.
2. Crisscross two of the lamb bones and lean them onto the polenta.
3. Place a dollop of mint pesto on each lamb chop and a small drizzle around the plate.
Where to Stay Zota Beach Resort