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.
BRATALIAN NEAPOLITAN CANTINA
10740 S. Eastern Ave. #155
Henderson, NV 89052