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STRIPLVDINING - B&B RISTORANTE

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STRIPLVDINING - B&B RISTORANTE

By Vegas Food Nerd

Joe Bastianich and his partner in culinary crime, Mario Batali, are epicurean powerhouses and both recently celebrated 10 years in the dining scene here in Las Vegas. As a fan of both icons, I went into our dinner at their B&B Ristorante with some pretty high expectations. Also, Italian restaurants are a bit tough for me to be completely objective about. Coming from and marrying into an Italian family, I’ve been exposed to some excellent family recipes and great food. Going to an Italian restaurant for me is like bringing sand to the beach. (At least that is what my husband always says.) I had some friends visiting our fast-paced town, and they love Italian food so when I told them our dining options at The Venetian, B&B was their choice. Located in restaurant row at the mega-casino resort, the restaurant is a beautiful, cozy and romantic space. It has dark wood coffered ceilings and the walls are adorned with their vast wine selection. The lighting bathes diners in a dark yet golden tone, and the chairs are all plush and very comfortable.

When seated our waiter, who I want to point out, was very, very good, brought over a complimentary bite from the chef. It was a bruschetta with a pesto and chickpea topping. It was a good way to start. After getting a couple of martinis from the bar (one regular, the other a tasty blood orange one), we ordered our meals. To start, the three of us ordered the burrata, a beet salad and their gorgonzola salad. The burrata arrived with the creamy cheese plopped in the center of the plate with a small drizzle of olive oil and a big chunk of bread. That was it. It was the most disappointing way to serve one of my favorite things. No tomatoes, peppers or accents to bring out the creamy joy that burrata can be. A serious fail in our opinion. However, the butter lettuce salad with pancetta, shaved radishes, and gorgonzola made up for it this salad, which was tender and very balanced. I had ordered the beet salad with walnuts, caracara orange, mint and ricotta salata and it was a little too sweet, but overall very good.

Next came our meals. My friend ordered the pappardelle Bolognese with a veal and pork ragu. It was a lovely dish with tender ribbons of pasta, though the serving size was pretty disappointing for a pasta dish that we shelled out $29 for. I tried their cavatelli with a Sardinian lamb ragu and smoked ricotta cheese. The serving size was similar, but it was a disappointment overall. The pasta was chewy, and the sauce didn’t impress either. My other friend decided to try their short rib al Barolo with polenta and horseradish. The short rib was a tender and very flavorful main dish, but once again the serving size bordered on skimpy. I am very familiar with the fact that in Italy pasta is viewed as a first course and not as a main dish as many of us Americans do.

So, I had just assumed that they were trying to honor that tradition with the pasta portions, but then I saw their main dish portions and came to a pretty typical revelation that you can often get in our city. B&B is right there on the main drag, and they get a lot of walk-by tourist traffic so they made the decision to do the same as many other dining spots in the same situation: they overcharge patrons for marginal cuisine.

Trust me and venture off the strip a small way and you can visit some family-run Italian joints that will charge you half what these NYC transplants— and the food is infinitely better. It’s not the first time an East coast elitist passed judgment on our city and failed to look down their noses long enough to realize that just having their namesakes plastered everywhere may gratify their egos, but quality food and service wins me over way quicker than the fleeting trappings of celebrity. Feel free to message me anytime, and I will send you a few of my favorite Italian spots on your next visit to Las Vegas.

At the close of our meal, our waiter brought out a complimentary dish of small desserts, which was a nice touch. Our favorite part of the meal were the sweet treats. We ordered their Limoncello sampler and tried the lemon, lime, and the blood orange. All were fun and tasty, and then our waiter brought out a small shot glass of the bay leaf flavor (the one we thought we wouldn’t like), and it was so good. It had a cinnamon clove-like taste to it, not at all what we expected.

Last month I shared with you my marinara sauce, simple, and will hopefully make you never feel the need to buy a jar of sauce ever again. If you want to up your game a little more turn it into a meat sauce by doubling the recipe, add a tablespoon of tomato paste and mix up some meatballs food nerd style.

Meat Balls 1/3 pound ground veal

1/3 pound ground pork

1/3 pound ground beef

1 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon dried parsley

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 egg

2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Roll the mixture into your desired meatball size. They don’t have to be perfectly round; perfectly round meatballs are frozen one’s, homemade are not. Heat up the olive oil in a skillet and in batches fry the meatballs until they are nice and golden. Once they are browned, drop them into a bubbling pot of sauce and simmer them for at least an hour.

STRIPLVDINING - DW BISTRO

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DW BISTRO

By Vegas Food Nerd

Located in the revamped and now thriving Gramercy development DW Bistro is a modern open and airy space located in the heart of this new urban landscape in the Las Vegas valley. The once-stalled development is now almost entirely leased out and has created a cool little community vibe to it. There are different sites for outdoor bonfires, an outdoor movie theater and a fitness center. There is residential living, office space and the retail spaces below them are slowly but surely filling in with some solid offerings. DW Bistro is one of them.  Open for lunch and dinner as well as their very popular weekend brunches, the restaurant is a favorite for locals. Relocated from their original space in a strip mall only a few exits away from the Gramercy, the new space is bigger, and more open, making more room for the loyal fans of this establishment. Word about DW’s unique New Mexico cuisine meets Jamaican has captured the taste buds of many in town, and I was looking forward to finally getting to try their food.

The space itself is striking when you walk through the door. It’s modern with warm accents, and features a big long bar in the center. There are bright splashes of white and orange, and the seating sleek and filled with a few hipster types here and there. The patio is an excellent dining option when weather permits and the restaurant is located right next to the expertly landscaped central park of the Gramercy development, making for some beautiful views.

We visited this fusion restaurant for lunch one day during the week. It was the middle of the day, so we opted for their pomegranate iced tea instead of partaking from the bar. The ice tea, which you can order either sweetened, or not was bright and refreshing. Though we did happen to see a few of their legendary Bloody Mary’s drifting around on various servers’ trays (and they looked tempting). We started our meal with their DW Spanish chorizo and shrimp. The shrimp and chorizo were served with a fresh tomato, roasted garlic, and lemon beurre blanc sauce with basil. The dish was served with lavash and crostini. It was full of flavor, and that sauce was such a perfect medley of flavors we couldn’t help but sip it after we’d eaten the shrimp and sopped up what we could with the crackers. For our entrees, my friend ordered the blackened salmon salad, and I ordered the chef recommended dish— the New Mexican pork bowl. The salad was very good with a nice balance between the sweetness in the dressing and the spice from the blackened salmon.  My bowl was a generous portion. It was big tender chunks of pork that had been simmered in a New Mexican red Chile sauce served over rice, topped with two fried eggs, some micro greens and served with flour tortillas. It was a steamy, spicy, warm dish that took me back to the food I’d experienced in Santa Fe, and one of the more unique flavors I’ve experienced here in town.  

There isn’t a shortage of restaurants in our fair city, but DW’s unique menu offerings and the level of service we experienced on our visit rival some of the big-name restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip. When you visit, I urge you to venture off the strip to check out the many gems like this that are worth the trip. If you are ever looking for a suggestion or two feel free to reach out to me on social media for a tip or two.  I’m always happy to share.

FoodNerdMagazine.com • Follow me @VegasFoodNerd

RECIPE OF THE MONTH

It was during one of our bigger events for the magazine that a photographer approached me about writing for the dining section of STRIPLV. He was confident in his love of food and the art of preparing it when he started to describe his favorite recipe to me. He started out by saying “Ok so first I take a jar of spaghetti sauce.” I had to stop the guy right there in his tracks.  Needless to say, he didn’t get the gig. A basic marinara sauce is so easy to master that there is no need to waste your money on another jar, and it’s impressive to most when you make your own. The following is a basic beginner sauce.  You can feel free to riff on it and make it exclusively your own by adding different flavors.  It’s a great place to start. Once you’ve got this one down it will serve as a great base to create many other sauces to use in future dishes.  

Marinara Sauce

1 twenty-eight ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes with basil

4 cloves garlic peeled and minced

2 tablespoons of dried basil

2 teaspoons of dried parsley

3-4 tablespoons of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

fresh chopped basil to garnish

freshly grated parmesan cheese

Place the tomatoes in a blender and pulse a few times to crush and reduce them. You will want to have some texture so don’t over blend. Heat your olive oil over medium heat then add the minced garlic and stir until the garlic turns golden brown on the edges. Then add your crushed tomatoes, dried basil, dried parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to simmer and let the sauce cook for 20 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, boil a pot of water and add a 16-ounce box of pasta of your choice. Toss the pasta and half of your sauce together in a bowl. Dish up into individual servings and top with the reserved sauce on top and garnish with the fresh chopped basil and the grated parmesan cheese.  This recipe works great with a rigatoni shaped pasta. If you want to make it with a fettuccini or spaghetti shaped pasta those tend to need a little more sauce, in that case, go ahead and double the recipe.  

STRIPLVDINING - SALUTE

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STRIPLVDINING - SALUTE

By Vegas Food Nerd

There is not a shortage of Italian restaurants in Las Vegas.  Whether it is the residual effects of the mafia or just an overwhelming amount of people who find comfort from the food that comes out of the boot, the bottom line is we have many choices that go beyond that of a classic red sauce joint.

Salute, located inside of the Red Rock Hotel and Casino with its newly revamped menu is a modern take on some of the classic dishes that we have all grown to love.  I was invited to the new menu unveiling with Salute’s new chef Luke Palladino.  Walking into the restaurant for our dinner, I was struck with the décor.  It was a contemporary space with some classic throwback elements to it.  There is a carving station on the right for antipasto, and freshly sliced prosciutto to order.  Then as you venture farther in, you see the open kitchen with an impressive pizza oven.  There is a  warmth to the design that helps to get your palate going for the offerings ahead.  You can opt for a cozy leather booth, tables that have nice comfy chairs, or their patio if weather permits is a nice option as well.

We were guests of the new chef, and he gave us a sampling of the entire menu.  He started off with impressive choices from both the cold and hot antipasti items.  The ahi tuna crudo was a tender and flavorful raw offering, and it was unique in its flavors with the blood orange aioli, calabrese chili oil, olives, and crispy shallots.  The other cold dish served was thin Italian breadsticks wrapped in freshly sliced prosciutto with Parmesan and white truffle butter.  These were the least favorite of the bites we were offered during the night.  Moving to the hot portion of the appetizers we were served a baked taleggio cheese with wild mushrooms, a cheese scaloppini, wood oven-roasted clams casino, and crispy stuffed and fried squash blossoms.   Theses were all flavorful and all accented with innovative tastes like the Sambuca accent in the scaloppini.  The smoked chili garlic butter on the clams was tasty, but the highlight was the squash blossoms.  They were a delicate bite stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan accented with a pistachio pesto.

Chef Luke then brought a couple of pizzas out for our table to enjoy.  We sampled the prosciutto and their Bianco pizzas.  Both were tasty. The prosciutto pie was adorned with a Pomodoro sauce, prosciutto, of course, arugula, shaved parmesan all drizzled with an aged balsamico.  The Bianco was pecorino and buffalo cheese with circles of sun-dried tomato pesto and topped off with toasted pistachios.   Both were so good, and the crusts had an excellent taste and texture and a good 

chew to them. 

The pasta course was up next, and we were treated to three different signature dishes from Salute.  The first was truffle ravioli, stuffed with ricotta and truffles and topped with a Foie gras cognac crema sauce.  These pillowy pasta delights were a delicate, yet decadent experience.  Next was tagliatelle Bolognese, a veal, pork, and beef ragu topped with shaved parmesan.  Chef Paladino told us that he spent years in Bologna, Italy perfecting the component to his sauce for this pasta dish.  The final and most dramatic pasta was the restaurant’s signature dish:  their take of the famous Roman cacio e pepe.  They present this creamy spaghetti table side.  They pour some vodka in the center of a large wheel of parmesan cheese, set it on fire creating a cheesy pool in the center, and they immediately toss some hot pasta inside, swirling it around to make the sauce right there in front of us.  It was a unique and fun way to be served, and its simplicity made it one of our favorite bites of the evening.  

Next, we were served three of their meat, and fish dishes.  First was their grilled 16 ounce veal chop.  Next was the porterhouse steak for two, and then their acqua pazza (a whole roasted fish cooked in “crazy water.”)   Served along side were crushed fingerling potatoes, roasted root vegetables, and crispy brussel sprouts.  The meats were grilled to perfection.  I especially loved the wild mushroom, prosciutto, and sage crema that was served with the veal, and the black garlic porcini butter on the porterhouse was so excellent.  The fish was presented whole in its bath of garlic, chilies, fennel, Ligurian olives, tomatoes, potatoes, marjoram, and parsley.  The waiter then took the fish and deboned it tableside.  The result was a tender and delightful seafood offering.  

Finally, we couldn’t roll out of our amazing experience without a little dessert right?  Served were cannolis, warm Nutella cake, and their take on zeppole (Italian doughnuts).  The cannoli shell was crisp, light, and thin with an orange scented ricotta filling, dotted with pistachios and dark chocolate.  It was one of the best I’ve sampled in quite some time.  The Nutella cake was a warm, chocolatey delight sure to satisfy any chocolate lover.  The doughnuts were just the right amount of sweetness with two different custardy sauces to dip them in; a perfect end to such an elaborate tasting.  

I’ve decided to add a new sidebar to my column each month as a public service to our STRIPLV readers.  Guys, there is nothing sexier than a man who can whip up a hot dinner for his partner.  While most of us ladies to enjoy a romantic night on the town, cooking in can result in some of the best deserts that you’ve ever had, and I’m not talking about the sugary variety.  I will highlight a new recipe each month that even a trained gorilla could pull off and get some action at the end of the night.  Here we go with our first one. 

Orange Ginger Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup flour

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon peeled grated ginger

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap to an even thickness.  Then salt and pepper both sides of the meat.  Heat a pan, and add the butter and oil to it.  Cover the chicken with flour, and place in the heated oil and butter.  Cook the cutlets on both sides until they are a nice golden brown color, and remove them from the pan.  Deglaze the pan with the orange juice, then stir the remaining ingredients in to complete your sauce.  Reduce the sauce, thickening it slightly, and return the chicken to the pan.  Let the chicken simmer in the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes or longer to soak up the flavors, then serve.  It can be served over rice or alongside potatoes.  If you want to jazz up your presentation, line your serving platter with fresh orange slices and zest some fresh peel on top of the chicken.  

DINING - VALENTINE'S DAY IN LAS VEGAS

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VALENTINE'S DAY IN LAS VEGAS

By Vegas Food Nerd

Most men, and quite honestly women too hate the dreaded holiday we know as Valentine’s Day.  If you are single, you really hate it, with a vengeance.  Thoughts of heart shaped chocolate boxes, and bouquets of red roses can spur a  case of nausea in your stomach.  The expectations of your partner depending on your relationship can be a source of stress.  If you happen to be visiting Las Vegas during this season of love here are a few recommendations on how to woo your partner in Sin City.

 

First and perhaps most important, plan ahead

Our city is a prime Valentine’s Day destination.  So even if planning an evening out is against your nature, it’s time to change that about yourself.  Plan where you would like to go and make reservations as early as possible.  Nothing is going to squash the romantic vibe more than not knowing where you are going to go for the evening.

Get ready

This tip ties into the one above, but preparation does show real affection.  Stop by Adult Superstore, or Lion’s Den here in Las Vegas and get a few tools to turn on your lover.  A gourmet dining experience should end you up relishing in an epicurean romp between the sheets.  Wear something under your clothes to surprise your partner, and or introduce a few new toys to the bedroom after your date. 

Take them to new heights

The lights of Las Vegas are spectacular, and they are even more awe-inspiring when you visit some of our bars and restaurants that have balconies that overlook the Strip.  Rivea the restaurant that sits atop of Mandalay Bay has a lounge adjacent to it called the Skyfall Lounge.  You can sit out on the balcony and enjoy cocktails on their couch type seating and revel in the 180-degree views.  The Stratosphere has the revolving restaurant that gives you 360-degree views.  And the Ghost Bar and The Foundation Room have some great views as well.  And if you take your date to the Eifel Tower Restaurant at The Paris Hotel and Casino you will get perfect romantic views of the legendary Bellagio fountains.  Then order a soufflé there for desert, trust me.  The 30-minute ride in the LINQ’s Observation wheel with an open bar wouldn’t be a bad way to kick off the evening either.  A Romantic helicopter ride over the city lights?  Yeah, you can do that too.  Just book everything in advance tours do sell out.

Order Some Bubbly

It might be cliché, but pop a bit of the bubbly at the beginning of the meal. There are rumors that champagne can get you inebriated quicker, which isn’t actually true, but you can’t deny the rush of dopamine you feel when someone cracks open a bottle.  It’s a symbol of something special.  Going out on this holiday is all about making someone feel special.  So, start with bubbles, my friend.  You will not be sorry.

Pick your restaurant wisely

Before just blindly choosing a restaurant that you know that you will love stop and think about your partner.  Any dietary preferences or favorites do they have?  Also, consider the smell factor when you make the final decision.  Is the cuisine overly garlicky or loaded with onions?  Or is it too indulgent and more than likely conducive of a nap instead of an incentive to play in the bedroom?

Try a change of venue for dessert

Every place in town is going to have dessert menu for you to peruse, but why not get even more creative with your planning and go to a new destination to hit your dates sweet spot?  Sweets by Raku is a dessert place located in Chinatown where the chef crafts decadent desserts right before your eyes that look like works of art.  You can also go to the highly anticipated outpost of Chef Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar at The Cosmopolitan she makes something called “Crack” pie, and it is highly addictive, and her legendary Cereal Milk Ice Cream ranks right up there with the “Cronut.”  Oh, and if you want to try one of those visit our friends at Pink Box Donuts, they’ve even upped the donut game with their new churro donuts. 

 

STRIPLVDINING - GRAB YOUR SLICE OF THE PIE

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GRAB YOUR SLICE OF THE PIE

BY VEGAS FOOD NERD

DUE FORNI

Located in Summerlin Due
Forni
which means two ovens in Italian this little gourmet pizza joint has been cooking up some pretty amazing pies for years.  

Chef Carlos Buscaglia’s recipes and pure dedication to authentic Italian flavors are pretty evident in the food at this trendy modern feeling restaurant.  Like a cracker thin crust then pick their Roman Style Crust, and if you like a bit of chew to your crust like I do then go with their Neapolitan Style Crust.  I’ve been lucky enough to try most of their custom pizzas, and they are all good, and all scrumptious.

It’s not all about the pizza here, though.  They have specials that change from time to time.  One thing you shouldn’t pass up, and I never seem to be able to is their Gnocchi.  They are small semolina gnocchi served in a truffle crema, with bacon and peas.  Decadent and delicate at the same time.  

Their Social Plates section of the menu is also worth exploring.  They have a great Chef’s plate which features Charcuterie and Artisanal cheeses.  But the highlight for myself is their Stracciatella.  If you like cheese and are familiar with Burrata, Stracciatella is the center (best part) of the cheese.  The name means rag in Italian, and they serve it to you with a fresh piece of baked bread and your choice of accompaniment such as roasted red pepper it will make you happy, I promise.  

If you a wine aficionado, you will also like that Duo Forni has an Enomatic Wine System which allows them to pour from over forty plus outstanding limited production wines offered by the glass.  From 10 – 20-year-old Barolos to up-and-coming vintners from hot spots around the globe.  dueforni.com

SETTEBELLO

Another great spot for gourmet pies is Settebello.  This small eight-chain restaurant makes Neapolitan pizzas and salads.  Each location does change the menu from time to time based on the availability of ingredients.  

The menu is simple but delicious.  The restaurant is named after the most sought after card in the popular Italian card game called Scopa.  The Settebello is the nickname given to the seven of gold in the 40-card deck. 

When I visited the restaurant, a friend and I split a couple of their pizzas and a salad.  The two pies that we tried were the Emilia (prosciutto cotto, fresh corn, Italian cream, fresh mozzarella, parmesan, basil, and olive oil), and the Filetto (fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, and olive oil.)  They both were very good.  We didn’t realize that the Filletto was basically a caprese salad on top of a warm baked round of bread which was a bit of a letdown.  The Emilia was our favorite, warm gooey cheesy perfection.  

The salad we decided to split while eating our pies was their Involtini di Prosciutto which was prosciutto crudo wrapped around baby arugula and goat cheese.  They topped it with goat cheese, shaved parmesan, balsamic reduction and olive oil.  It was just the perfect balance of flavors.  

The small chain is celebrating ten years here in Las Vegas and if you visit between January 10th to the 16th you can get a Margherita Pizza & Peroni for just $10 and help them celebrate this milestone.  Chef Carmine D’Amato hopes you stop by for your slice soon.  www.settebello.net

vegasfoodnerd.com  •  Follow me at: @vegasfoodnerd

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