We loved everything about our recent lunch at Pizzeria Puck…except the pizza.
It wasn’t that bad…it just wasn’t that good either. And it gave us no reason to hightail it to Crystals the next time we have a hankerin’ for a slice.
The highlight on the pie was the house-made lamb chorizo — that we ended up picking off the top — but the crust wasn’t charred or yeasty or redolent of good sourdough, and could’ve been a crust from any commercial pizzeria.
PP can be forgiven for this infraction since the whole concept behind the joint was rejiggered in midstream (about four months ago) after the “Brasserie Puck” concept wasn’t roping them in the way the accountants had hoped. (Not the concept’s fault really, nothing is roping them in at City Center (that is neither a city, nor in the center of anything) the way the accountants had hoped.)
So skip the pizza at Brasse…er…uh…we mean Pizzeria Puck, if you want to enjoy the best this kitchen has to offer. That kitchen is still headed up Dustin Lewandowski (a dude who can probably cook anything he puts his mind to). From our taste of things, he seems to be putting his mind to one of the best gnocchis we’ve had in a coon’s age. Seventeen dollars gets you a steaming plate of ricotta gnocchi, dressed in a tomato-Bolognese that makes up in intensity what it lacks in authenticity. Our dining companion (and 4,000th Facebook friend) Gary Frey remarked that the extra tomatoes were precisely because it was being targeted to an American audience, and like all brilliant, tasteful and insightful friends of ELV, he would be right.
Almost as good was the shrimp “scampi” — another way of saying shrimp “shrimp” — and the desserts (by pastry chef Erin Jenkins channeling 2009 Pastry Chef of the Year Kenny Magana) were typical Puck. And by typical Puck, we mean they were crazy good, just inventive enough, and so hyper-delicious everyone at our table was battling for a forkful. That’s quite a feat for something as mundane as tiramisu — the tired-beyond-words Italian dessert that took America by storm before Jenkins was born. Her chocolate chip version, like her deconstructed fig cheesecake, manages to capture the essence of the original while tweaking it into something better, and not nearly as boring.
Our meal for two, along with some boffo wine poured by new manager Bryan La Fontaine (fresh from his stint at Sage) was comped.
In Crystals at City Center
3720 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89158