Carla Pellegrino Begins Her Comeback

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It’s only been a few months since her official split from Rao’s (the restaurant, and its family) but obviously, Carla Pellegrino wasn’t letting any grass grow under her feet, as one taste at her new digs will tell you.

She really didn’t have far to come back from, but true to form, when she’s cooking (or in any room), it’s hard to ignore this Brazilian-Italian dynamo.

Bratalian (Brazil + Italian, get it?), is her take on a Neapolitan cantina, right down to the underwear hanging from the rafters, and a more charming eatery anywhere up or down Eastern Ave. would be hard to find. For now, she staying true to her cooking roots, concentrating on the southern Italian and Italian-American dishes she executed so well as Rao’s executive chef. Until she starts planning her new gig at the (Bacio at the Trop), Carla is on the premises, schmoozing up a storm, and making sure this place gets all the details right. After that, she’ll be leaving the cooking duties to her sister Alessandra Madeira and the front of the house to brother-in-law Walter Ciccone, who, like big sis, have this food in their DNA.

We stopped by Friday for a quick taste, and, as with everything we ever tried at Rao’s, found the food to be only of the best ingredients, cooked impeccably — in other words: just what you need to do Italian-American food right.

Case in point: spaghetti al’aglio e olio e pepperocino — simple spaghetti with oil and garlic — one of the most basic of all recipes in the Ital-American canon, but one most often fouled up by cooks not taking the time to cook the garlic and peppers properly. It must be prepared slowly until the slivers attain an almost caramelized, nutty sweetness. When made correctly, it is the consummate peasant pasta dish which gives almost magisterial pleasure. Needless to say: aBratalian’s is a royal version.

As were the pasta e fagioli soup and veal piccata — both surprising for the rich and mellow (in the case of the soup) and the sharp and creamy (in the case of the veal) flavors that she and her sister coax from these old reliables.

Three dishes do not a review make, but if the rest of the menu lives up to these standards, Bratalian (as a neighborhood joint), like Rao’s (on the Strip), will set a new benchmark for how this food is supposed to taste.

ELV left a $30 tip on a meal that would’ve cost him around $50 if Carla hadn’t been so generous.


10740 S. Eastern Ave. #155

Henderson, NV 89052


8 thoughts on “Carla Pellegrino Begins Her Comeback

  1. Spaghetti agile e olio.. I hope u re kidding..unless the picture is bad taken, but aglio e oilio should not sit on a lake of oil, with no parsley and no bread crumbs .. That looks more as the sau Paulo version.. More Brazilian than Italian … In which most of the cases we like….

  2. this food looks terrible – that grilled antipasta, veggies to thick and then you got that veal dish, veal all blonde, sauce looking weak with mash potatoes. please. Terrible location as well.

    But what ever, she must think people will travel to the ends of the world to taste her cuisine.

  3. I hadn’t heard that Carla left Rao’s. What was the reason? Who replaced her and is Rao’s still as good?

  4. ELV responds:

    @Paul Butler – Carla and Frank Jr. split the sheets so she had to split from her position as top toque at the Caesars outpost. Don’t know who succeeded her, but have eaten there and the tried and true family recipes are being done as competently as ever.

    @Ronnie – Don’t know what pics you were looking at, but there are no crumbs or parsley in the dish above. And by its very nature, spaghetti al’aglio e olio will necessarily be sitting in some oil as it’s presented.

    @weak sauce – Who peed in your cornflakes? Those grilled veggies, while not mentioned in the post, were wonderful, and the piccata just as we said: creamy and lemony and a perfect rendition of same.

  5. Happy to see this pop up in Henderson of all places, but the price point may be a bit high for the area though…

  6. Spaghetti al’aglio e olio is probably my favorite thing to eat and I’ve had it ruined so many times I gave up on ordering it outside of a couple places in NYC. However, that garlic does look perfectly cooked and I’m looking forward to driving the 18 miles to try it.

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