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By Vegas Food Nerd

Chef Stephen Blandino is a Staten Island Native who was introduced to the culinary world by his two Italian grandmas. They cooked with him regularly while he was growing up, and just like that he was seduced into the kitchen with love.

Stephen was formally trained at The Culinary Institute of America and landed a gig with Charlie Palmer at his New York City outpost Aureole and from there was transferred to the Las Vegas version of the same name. There he worked his way up to Executive Sous Chef, and eventually, Charlie asked him to be the head chef at Charlie Palmer, located inside the Four Seasons here in Las Vegas. The cuisine he created there and was lauded by critics and foodies alike.

Then he left the Charlie Palmer empire to build a restaurant of his own. Americana is located in Desert Shores, a community that is decidedly un-Vegas. The community features a series of manmade canals and feels like a neighborhood in a sea fairing city, not one you’d expect to find in our desert of a town.

The space inside the restaurant has a few different feels to it. There is the cozy little bar, the patio out front, the airy dining room, the library room, and the balcony outside that overlooks the water. It’s a romantic setting that will transport you away from Las Vegas, if not only in your mind, for the duration of your meal.

I first got the chance to experience this sophisticated little spot at lunch with my husband. We, as per usual, decided to share a few dishes in order to get a taste of all they had to offer.

We started with the beet salad, then the tuna sashimi, followed by the grilled octopus, and ended with a blackened swordfish. The mixture was a generous portion with beautiful colors, and nice big chunks of beets married with creamy goat cheese and decorated with bright purple kale. The sashimi was meltingly tender and was topped with chopped peanuts, micro greens, and killer avocado sauce dotted with red pepper flakes; it was quite simply incredible. The grilled octopus was served over a bed of cannellini beans in a sauce of sun-dried tomatoes, mushroom and a bit of spicy chorizo. It’s one of the best takes on octopus since my Detroit Greektown days.

Then our server placed down a white plate with a glass dome on it that was filled with smoke. He then dramatically pulled the dome off, and the tendrils of smoke tickle our olfactory senses taking us back in time for a moment to a childhood charcoal barbeque. And viola: Our blackened swordfish appeared on a bed of this sweet yet savory corn sauce with some spears of asparagus on the side. It was an incredible take on swordfish, and sad to say at the time of this writing it’s currently not on the menu, but hopefully we will see it again soon.

On our return visit at happy hour, we sat in the quaint bar area. We had the space to ourselves and felt very VIP. We couldn’t resist ordering the sashimi and octopus again. The only thing that was a let down on this visit though was in order to give us happy hour pricing on the octopus they just reduced the portion in half, and this was disappointing. The sashimi was still as good as we remembered, and we also ordered a side of their jalapeno mac and cheese. It was a gut-pleasing gooey offering that we really enjoyed.

Both times that we visited Americana, we received excellent service and attention from the staff. The only sticking point on both visits was the spot seemed to have some trouble with getting the right chill on our bottle of white wine. In fact, on our second visit, we overheard management discussing the issue, and I am confident they are working on this problem so don’t let this dissuade you from visiting this gem of a restaurant. It’s an elegant dining outpost that creates some innovative cuisine, beautiful views, romantic scenes, and you should check it out soon. Now go eat something.

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