Friday, July 08, 2005

Bartolotta is a Wynn-WIn

Las Vegas again. Business again--really! This time Rick Lewis and I hit the new Steve Wynn Hotel on the Strip for--of all things--authentic Italian Seafood. Casey got sick playing basketball, he went straight to bed--at least that's his story. Chef Bartolotta has created Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare from his Ligurian memory. He imports the fish fresh from European sources and uses it fast to create familiar flavors, with Fine Dining presentation and Las Vegas flair. The red mullet appetizer with capers and halved cherry tomatoes was spectacular, if skimpy on serving size. They claim they are creating a small plate opportunity so diners can engage in variety. And variety is key at Bartolotta--because you get fish here you just can't get anywhere outside of Europe--and certainly not in any other desert setting. So you want to try more than one course.

I was tempted to get a second course of penne with the same mullets because I just love this fish. But for variety sake, I made my primi a rabbit (sorry no fish, but I just can never resist eating the little hopping mammal from a chef, who is new to me). It was an outstanding carmelized loin on a bed of baby artichokes.

My main course was a pile of perfectly cooked Langostino (the lobster/shrimpy crsustacion that is the source of real Scampi) in a "must sponge it up" sauce again with dozens of halved cherry tomatoes. You just know some fresh-faced apprentice is spending all his day cutting these ripe red morsels in half. Fresh, tasty, perfect tecture. Boy did it make me miss Italy. Rick had a European Turbot fillet that had a firm texture--not swordfish firm, but was perfectly moist. He preceded that with a standard Insalata Mista and a plate of little-pillow Gnocchi in a tomato sauce. And the wines--all Italian, many single glass selections of hard to find, moderately priced grape juice from regions like Friulli, the Veneto and Sicily. But they also have a great selection of the Super Tuscan, Brunello and Barolo sort.

Love fish, but sick of the Salmon, Swordfish, Halibut, Mahi Mahi rotation. At Bartolotta, you are looking at a dozen types of seafood that you simply won't find at other places--European Sea Bream, Purple Snapper. A half-dozen whole fish selections, simply prepared, as well as more deconstructed high-style concoctions.

Check out the most recent Wine Spectator review of all the Wynn restaurants. Wynn's brought a gang of up and comers to Las Vegas, and is making them live there and work in their beautiful custom-designed culinary palaces. For me, I can't wait to go back to Bartolotta: 4/5.

The rest of the trip--not to food-eventful. The worst convention food ever was found at the World Series of Poker at the Rio. Casey and Rick actually threw their hotdogs away. Still the actual event was a hoot. And we did meet a bunch of Poker TV stars including James Woods and Jennifer Tilly. Not sure what they were eating.

No rating--don't bother, better choices around every corner for the same or less money.
1/5 I will eat here, but something is always left wanting, food or service or something.
2/5 Good food. Not always consistent. Decent value eating.
3/5 Solid. Consistent. You look for reasons to eat here.
4/5 Excellent. You will not be disappointed even if it costs more.
5/5 Beyond a meal. An experience, like going to the opera at la Scala or watching your team win the World Series.


Blogger MGwine said...

Paul- Next time you order Barrata I'm in. Seriously. Just let Rick know. I love the stuff and found the same problem with the US importer. I can't believe the ferry building cheese has it now. The only time I ever found some not at a restaurant (btw. Universal Cafe in Potrero has had it on the menu too) was from Bulete's Larder.

10:17 PM  

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