Last night we decided to celebrate the birthday of Anthony Robert Curtas (D.O.B. 10.25.75 – The Official Number One Son Of ELV, and officially a member of our staff) by taking him, along with The Food Gal® and Food Gal #1 (his Official Former Stepmother), to dinner.
And rather than go with the tried and true, we thought we’d go where gourmets (recently) have feared to tread. And by “fear to tread” we mean to one of the restaurants at the financially-strapped Red Rock Hotel and Casino.
Since Number One Son is an accomplished home cook of this cuisine, we thought a trip to Terra Rossa was in order. But the results of this experiment in the ‘burbs were so mixed, we thought we’d present our review of it in the form of a price-to-value analysis we’ll call: Anatomy of a Check.
For starters, three salads: green bean, Calabrese, and Caprese. The Caprese was composed of a big ball of burrata on top of three nice tomato slices; the Calabrese some iceberg lettuce topped with some sweet/hot marinated pimentos and canned pepperocini; and the green bean, more cheap lettuce with some thinly-sliced cheese mingled with the greenery. All three were amateurish in composition, and were served much too cold and within three minutes of being ordered — a sure sign they’d been sitting in a ‘fridge for much of the day.
Total lettuce spent on lettuce: $41.00. Worth it? Not in a million years.
We also ordered two pastas for the table (the redundantly-named potato gnocchi, and parciatelloni-like thick, square perciatelli) as a secondi course, expecting them to appear after the salads and before the primi piatti, like they do in every decent, upscale Italian restaurant in the world. Alas, it was not to be.
After an extra ordinarily long wait, made all the more curious by the fact that the dining room was only half full, we were presented with our main courses — ossobuco Milanese, veal with lemon and peas, risotto primavera and chicken with Italian sausage. Almost immediately thereafter, came the big bowls of parciatelloni and potato gnocchi — the former in a decent ragu; the latter: fluffy, melt in your mouth dumplings that gained nothing from a preternaturally thick, smooth, strained tomato sauce that reminded ELV of the stuff that used to coat Chef Boy-Ar-Dee canned noodles (and maybe still does).
Pasta cost: $36. Remotely as good as that found at Circo, B & B or Valentino? Not on your life.
Amidst the blizzard of food (crowding an over-matched four-top) one item stood out for its awfulness — the risotto primavera. What made it so disappointing were the gummy, overcooked, stuck-together grains, its lack of any vegetable flavor, and the fact that, at the same table, was another risotto (saffron) that was excellent. How the same kitchen can turn out a disaster of a dish employing the same technique as another served right beside it is a testament to the lack of discipline, or the lack of a disciplinarian, in the kitchen.
Risotto remittance: $18. Restitution required? Righteously.
As for those primi piatti, the ossobuco was textbook perfect (if a bit small); the chicken an unholy mess to look at, but tasty, and the veal with lemon and peas — once again, a small order, this time festooned with frozen peas. At thirty-two bucks ($32) the chicken is clearly the profit-margin king on this menu. At twenty-nine buckeroonies ($29) the small amount of greyish/white sliced veal was not worth the tariff, despite being quite lemony. But peas in October? What were we thinking?
Total main course price: $99. Worth it: Yes, if the veal had been bigger, the slices had been better, peas had been in season, and the chicken more bewitchin’.
When we were seated, Number One Son Of Food Man looked around the expensive, stylish room and remarked, “If this place was where I live (the Washington D.C. area), everyone would be dressed to the nines. Here, everyone’s in golf shirts, jeans and shorts.” “That’s Vegas,” was all we could say (with a resigned shrug).
Just as “Vegas” (albeit in a different way) is a wine list that devotes two full pages, in a bankrupt, neighborhood casino, to Gaja wines priced from $320-$650/bottle. Our bet is no one has ordered a bottle in two years. But like the rest of the menu, the management is trying to get people to pay prices for products that, in this economy, just aren’t worth it.
Our meal for four (including $165 worth of wine, but no dessert and a $50 tip — for less than stellar service) came to $457. For his next birthday, we owe Number One Son a trip to The Strip.
In the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa
11011 West Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89135