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More Than a Meal

Acqua Di Mare is a World-Class Dining Experience Like No Other

With a name like Acqua Di Mare (Italian for “water of the seas”), one might expect a restaurant with traditional Italian fare. And they’d be right. Almost.

“It’s an Italian restaurant with a flare of French and Greek cuisine,” explains Nikola Hristov, the man behind Chandler’s hottest new restaurant.

Hristov, who is Serbian, was taught to cook by his grandmother, a Sicilian chef, but also learned from kitchens all over the world. Taking what his Nana taught him and combining it with what he learned elevates Acqua Di Mare to its unique status.

“It’s a dining experience, not just come in, eat, and leave,” says Hristov. “Every step is special from the moment when you walk in—every single step counts. We guide a guest to a table for fresh basil, fresh daily-made bread. It’s layers to build that experience. We make sure to have them walk in with a smile and walk out with a smile … and come back, of course.”

Hristov has traveled the world, including years spent as a professional footballer, but it was his later career that helped set Acqua Di Mare in motion.

“I was working as well on a cruise line for six years and I got to know cooking in New York, Miami, Italy, Serbia, and I combined all the knowledge,” he says. “I came to Arizona in 2018 and moved here from Manhattan, where I worked in a Greek restaurant. I learned a lot about the Greek kitchen, as well. It was an extra education.”

He opened Acqua Di Mare in March after a soft opening for friends and family in February of this year. The menu is as varied as it is impressive, and the staff is happy to make recommendations. When asked which dish guests should try for their first visit, Hristov doesn’t hesitate.

“Lobster di Mare—it’s a creation, more a French dish than Italian,” he says. “There’s cream, bacon—it’s a full-flavored dish. It’s different than any other place for the lobster. This is more rich than what other places do. Most places say white wine with lobster, but try it with a medium-bodied red wine or a full-bodied red wine—it’s a nice experience. It’s like a cooking class. I cook it next to you and explain while I go. I think it will impress.”

There are several seafood options on the dinner menu, as the name Acqua Di Mare might imply, but there are also several other entrees to choose from. A limited number of Chateaubriand and Kobe Tomahawk Steaks are served, as well as Rack of Lamb.

For now, Hristov is the only one who does the tableside experience, while his head chef, Gustavo Heredia, manages the kitchen and staff.

“Gustavo is a professional chef, as well, with a high knowledge, and I’m very proud to have a right hand like his next to me,” says Hristov. “I’m hoping to have my waitstaff do the same thing. My goal is I want all my staff to know how to cook in the future. That’s how they can be closer to the guest and have a nice conversation.”

Acqua Di Mare is open for brunch and dinner, with reservations highly encouraged. Due to the nature of table-side cooking, Acqua Di Mare can only seat a maximum of six guests every 15 minutes during regular business hours. This helps guarantee everyone will receive the attention and care they deserve to ensure a memorable dining experience.

For brunch, menu highlights include Frittata Di La Mandolina (a traditional Italian dish made with eggs, bacon, heavy cream, caramelized onion, and grape tomatoes) and Crème Brule French Toast (brioche bread with caramelized sugar in a Brulé crème).

Acqua Di Mare is located at 106 S. Oregon St. For reservations, call 602.885.8782 or visit