Bartolotta’s in Las Vegas: A Wynn-ing Dinner

I hadn’t had Paul’s food for years – I’d last had a Bartolotta morsel too, too many years ago when Spiaggia opened in Chicago – so I made a reservation at his restaurant as soon as I booked my flight.  Trained in Italy and France, Paul is a master technician with the soul of a small-town papa who just wants his family to eat well and be happy.

Of course, in Las Vegas, there’s a steep price to be paid for eating well and being happy, but you leave Paul’s make-believe corner of Italy thinking it was worth it.  Bartolotta’s is single-mindedly fishcentric and single-handedly responsible for bringing in a variety of swimmers usually seen only in the markets of Venice and Portofino.

At Bartolotta’s, the tasting menu, which is what we had, is served family style.  First there’s a cart with all the fish laid out like a still life and you get to see what the day’s catch is and can choose what you’d like, then you settle in and the surprises start coming.  I didn’t take pictures – sorry – and my notes are pretty bad (sometimes dinner is just dinner and I thought this was one of those times, but when it turned out to be so great, I wanted to tell you all about it), but here’s some of what we had.

Antipasti – each fish was prepared very simply; some, like the incredible slipper lobster, were just cooked and cut into pieces; all were outstanding

  • Mantis shrimp
  • Langoustines
  • Slipper lobster (what a treat – not at all like Maine lobsters; small – they take 3 years to grow to 1 pound, very sweet and beautifully tender)
  • Silver fish (teensy, snackable, whole fish, fried and served with lemon wedges)
  • Octopus
  • Clams

Pasta

  • Risotto nero (made with squid ink)
  • Ravioli (with ricotta, pecorino, butter and tomatoes – so simple, so amazingly good)
  • Lasagnette con crostacei (shreds of lasagna with shrimp, lobster, langoustines, crabs and white wine – my favorite of the pastas)
  • Penne with spiny lobster

The Main Event

  • Turbot with shrimp, langoustines and fat asparagus

Dessert

  • Gelato and Sorbetto in many flavors

It was truly a memorable meal – and a really long one too.  We had a late reservation, but by the time we finished dinner and had some good catch-up time with Paul, it was past 2 am – a late finish even in a town that’s 24/7!  But you’d never know it looking at this picture of the chef.  Proof again that while it takes talent to be a great chef, it also takes more energy than most of us ordinary humans can muster!

Bartolotta

Dorie Greenspan

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