BRATALIAN Brings Authentic Italian-American to Henderson
If Italian food has indeed conquered the world, as John Mariani maintains in his new book, it was Italian-American cuisine that first stormed the beaches of country after country with its irresistible flavors. Unfortunately, what began as the shock and awe of savory saltimboccas and arrabiatas soon drowned the competition (and its own culinary history) in a sea of red sauce. So much so that, by the 1970s (as Mariani also points out), America was awash in meatball mediocrity. Against this tide of weary ragus and morose manicottis, there have always been a few keepers of the fettucine flame who take the time to do such classics proud, and Henderson is now lucky to have one of those in its backyard.
“The secret,” Carla Pellegrino, former top toque at Rao’s, tells me, “is in the ingredients. It’s easier to use inferior pastas, meats, tomatoes and cheeses, but you can really taste the difference.” She’s right, of course, and she and her chef/sister Alessandra Madeira and brother-in-law Walter Ciccione have launched Bratalian as their ode to the cooking cantinas of Naples—right down to the underwear hanging from the rafters—and the food those Italians brought to the New World.
Your first clue of the pride these Brazilian-Italians take in those recipes comes from a simple pasta e fagioli soup. Dense, earthy and rich with the flavor of cannellini beans and pasta, it’s a 50-50 mix of its two main ingredients, neither too thick nor too thin, and a perfect rendition of an oft-abused staple of peasant cooking. Next, the deceptively simple spaghetti al’aglio e olio (spaghetti with garlic and oil), simmered ever-so-slowly so the garlic oozes flavor into the oil while becoming almost sticky sweet (garlic candy if you will), infusing the dish with intensity without offense.
- Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina
- 10740 S. Eastern Ave.
- Tue-Sun, 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. & 5-10:30 p.m.
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As to that red sauce, unlike so many inferior versions, it tastes like fresh tomatoes (or at least freshly canned San Marzano tomatoes), rather than something simmered into acrid oblivion, and like at Rao’s, is used to accent, not overwhelm, the flavors of the pastas or proteins. As I’m biting into an exemplary chicken Parmigiana, after polishing off two sparkling salads—seafood and tuna with baby lima beans and onions—I’m reminded of what both Mariani and Pellegrino have preached many times: “There’s nothing difficult about Italian-American food, but you have to have pride in what you’re doing and take the time to do it right.” Too many Italian restaurants do neither, but Bratalian is doing both.
4 thoughts on “BRATALIAN Reviewed in Las Vegas Weekly”
Fabulous review John! Can’t wait to give it a try.
Well I tried Bratalian on Saturday evening and it was a disaster.
We went knowing that at all new restaurants there are glitches, but this night gave new meaning to the term. We were seated at 8:40 for our 8:00 reservations. Service ( no fault of waiter Michael) was terrible because it an absolutely full restaurant there were only two servers, no buspeople, and an exasperated GM Walter Ciccone trying to do everything while pulling what is left of his hair out. Seeing that was an issue we told our server to take his time and bring us an orfer of meatballs and bread. He brought those rather quickly but couldn’t bring silverware because they ran out.
We had our wine uncorked (no license yet) Finally got utensils enjoyed the meatball (similar to Raos)placed our order and waited and waited. Carla was not in the kitchen so they were way behind. I orgered Orrechiate with sausage and broccoli rape and my wife ordered Shrimp Fra Diavolo with a side of the Broccoli Rape. When the food finally came, my pasta was underdone, the broccoli rape was flaccid and the sausage was burnt. My wifes shrimp was rubbery and her broccoli was mush.
To walter’s credit he comped the meal without blinking an eyelash almost as if he had done it before. He said he had lost 15 pounds in the 3 weeks since opening and it appeared they weren’t ready for the onslaught
of customers which was odd since your review just came out.
For the prices being charged, service must improve, printed menus need to be spell checked since it looked like amateur hour and the quality of the food has to improve. We want this to succeed but if this is going to be a trend they are in big trouble.
As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression and Bratalian is screwing up big time. I checked Yelp and the overwhelming majority of the posters are making comments similar to Jeff’s. It time for Carla to take over the kitchen, train staff and mind business. I had a feeling something was going to have to give when I read she was also opening a restaurant at the Trop.
As they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression and Bratalian is screwing up big time. I checked Yelp and the overwhelming majority of the posters are making comments similar to Jeff’s. It time for Carla to take over the kitchen, train staff and mind business. I had a feeling something was going to have to give when I read she was also in process of opening a restaurant at the Trop.
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