Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare shamelessly imitated in New York

I heart New York. I really do. I travel there at least twice a year and used to live within an hour of Restaurant Row (just off of Times Square) on West 46th Street.

And nobody, outside of a native, loves New York restaurants more than I do. I can wax poetic about Big Apple eateries from Gray’s Papaya to Patsy’s Pizzeria; wd-50 to Le Bernadin; BLT Fish to Bar Boulud. But it’s become increasingly evident that the New York food scene, cutting edge though it may be, is also capable of shamelessly imitating what’s already happened in Vegas, and claiming it as its own.

This trend started a couple of years ago with the New York openings of Country, Morimoto, Buddakhan, Craftsteak and Del Posto; restaurants that derived their (over) design and mojo from eye-popping places up and down the Strip like MIX, Prime, ALEX, Aureole, and Craftsteak, to name but a few.

Now we’ve read in this week-old post on GrubStreet (New York magazine’s food-oriented website), that our very own Paul Bartolotta is having his three year old fresh Italian seafood concept (in the Wynn), duplicated by a protege of his….Proving once again that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

We can forgive Michael White for paying this homage to his master. The two chefs are good friends after all, and White gave us one of the more memorable lunches of our life at ALTO recently in mid-town Manhattan. What is harder to swallow is the New York media constantly trumpeting something as “news” when Vegas was clearly ahead of whatever trend New Yorkers are now recognizing.* Or, at the very least, those food writers are increasingly guilty of not giving credit where credit is due.

Need further proof? Then how about last week’s article in the New York Post by Steve Cuozzo taking absentee chefs to task? – something ELV has been doing for thirteen years!

Watching the Vegas-i-za-tion of New York is fun. Reading New York writers pontificate like they’re in the center of (everything in) the food universe, grows wearisome.

Dear New York media:

Your incessant, naive chatter is boorish and boring to ELV. We hereby dismiss and consign thee to a diet of rancid headcheese until a clue is obtained on the true center of the restaurant universe.




* see also: small hamburgers, large hotel restaurants, Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy, Celebrity Chef Hell, etc…

13 thoughts on “Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare shamelessly imitated in New York

  1. JC-are you aware that the selfsame Michael White, of Beloit, Wisconsin, was the Executive Chef at Fiamma in Las Vegas?

  2. White doesn’t trumpet that on his resume….perhaps because the food he did at the coffee-shop-as-Italian-restaurant known as Fiamma (in the MGM) doesn’t approach the level of what he’s doing (at ALTO) in New York.

  3. Michele – Wedding chapels in Greenwhich Village?

    They don’t yet allow, same sex marriages in New York, do they?

  4. To all who crave italian seafood, Esca and ubber-talent Chef Dave Pasternack, in New York sets the bar. The most basic and fundemental difference between what Esca has been doing since 2000, and Bartolotta in the Wynn is cost. Esca is a moderately priced chef driven restaurant with many bi-weekly diners, in the most competitive restaurant town in America. Bartolotta a temple to fine ingredients, and run by my friend Chef Bartolotta is a grand hotel, luxury flagship, frequented infrequently by “comps” and High Rollers. The two restaurants have little in common other than virgin olive oil and salt. Other reasons to visit Esca are simply Dave’s enthusiasm for his product, tales of the sea, and the fair priced excellent wine list. Chef Pasternack knows each and every one of his fishmongers personally

    Vegas is certainly cutting edge, on many aspects of our industry. Giant wine lists, spending millions to build out beautiful restaurants supporting the resorts image and desire for greatness in foodservice and creating fun places to dine in Disneyland. However Chefs, Sommeliers, restaurant professionals and gourmets who travel and dine internationally are all heading to New York PERIOD. That’s where quality and ambience on every level of dining exceed expectations most often.

  5. Michael, agreed that David Pasternak is very talented, but he is lucky to have the Joe B and Molto Mario machine behind him. All Joe’s restaurants are top notch so no surprise that they all do so well.

    I disagree on some of your NYC points. One, who is flocking there? After Ducasse, any other Michelin starred chef entered the NYC scene? Just this week, I have found out that Pierre Gagnaire ( who will make the 4th 3 Michelin Star chef in Las Vegas) and Alfred Portale are opening restaurants.

    Rick Moonen who had received 3 stars from the NY times, opened a restaurant here in Las Vegas, fell in love with everything here and his RM Seafood, Las Vegas made the top 100 grossing restaurants in America. I can go on and on and on and…..

    As for sommeliers, again, who is heading there? At last count, we had 18 Master Sommeliers living and working here. If you add up all of NYC MS, add all of California’s and all those from your great city, we still come out on top.

    I love NYC and am proud to have worked and lived there, but even the diehards from NYC have realized that thgis is the place to be. Tell Marc packer of TAO that everyone is flocking to NYC!

    I know it’s hard to swallow – that in such a short time vegas has come so far, but the truth – you aint seen nothing yet. The best is yet to come. 2 million people living in what are 660 square miles ( the strip is only 44 Sq miles) aclled the Vegas valley move here for other reasons than gambling, hotels and dining. We have amazing nature, the weather is great, we don’t pay State Tax and there are no factories here so the air quality is pure, just like the beautiful Lake Meade, which is NOT artificial btw, man just changed its course of flow. What pours into lake meade is pure, fresh rocky mountain water. hence the color is so beautiful.

    oh, yeah, 900,000 tourist a week. yes, that’s correct, 40 Million a year head here

    So if you can shift me into the right direction and give me a clue as to who you refer to that is heading to NYC

  6. Molto grazie, muchos gracias, merci beaucoup and xie xie to all for the comments, commentary, debate and insights into what makes our two towns so wonderful.

    And thanks for helping me stir the pot (for my own amusement as well as yours), and reading discussions like this one makes me hopeful that Vegas may one day be an interesting food town as well as a first class restaurant town. (we really can’t compete with NYC – or many other cities – in that regard).

    I call it the Trickle Down Theory of Food/Restaurant Economics: top drawer, expensive tourist restaurants will (may?) eventually whet community’s appetite for something other than Claim Jumper, P.F. Chang’s and Fleming’s…..Hey! It could happen!

    Anyway….always keep in mind that ALL ELV opinions come with the following warranty: We may not be right, but we’re never in doubt!

  7. John,

    Quite a shameless plug for Vegas and your site……..

    This seems to be more of a case of “sour grapes” than imitation is flattery. Paul has been trying to get to NYC for at least the last 10 years and once again has come up short.

    First when Steve Hanson hired Michael White instead of Paul Bartolotta to open Fiamma and now with Marea in the recently vacated space that was San Domenico. If Paul wants to go to New York then go…. don’t cry in your tortellini!!

    What he’s done is what many other chefs have already done (imitation?) move to Vegas and open a restaurant not work that hard and have Steve or Sheldon pay you big money. In my humble opinion it’s time for Chef Bartolotta to put up or shut up and get to NYC, only then can a fair comarison be made….. after all NYC is the food mecca not Vegas Baby !!

  8. Bartolotta has to be the most overrated restaurant in Vegas – and if you listen to the folks at Opioniated About Dining – it’s the most overrated restaurant in America (see link below).

    The food is just good, not great, and the service (at least during my visits) was cold and stuffy. All this talk about the freshest fish in the city and having some guy in the ocean on his speedial going over the day’s catch is all PR smoke and mirrors.

  9. Please remind Max, that Michael White who he called the Executive Chef at Fiamma in Las Vegas, was really only “chef on business card” Anthony Amoroso was truly the chef. New York once again sending there chefs here to open a restaurant only to put their name on it ,but then have a local hard working younger chef do all the work.

    Max glad to see your reading the one true food report in las vegas!!

  10. Thanks Jason. Great informative post….and as you know, Anthony Amoroso is one of our favorite chefs in town….wherever he goes is always top notch!

    Thanks to all for a great thread (or whatever they call these things).

    bon gusto,

    Giovanni Curtas

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