Five years ago, Alessandro Stratta saw his twelve year relationship with the Wynn hotels come to an unceremonious end — when his ALEX restaurant was abruptly closed. You can debate all day long what it meant for the Wynncore to replace the finest in fine dining with a bunch of no-talent dj’s and douchebags, but there’s no doubt that gastronomes from around the globe were crushed.
Well, Las Vegas’s best chef is back, with a vengeance, and neighborhood dining will never be the same.
Taking over the failed Poppy Den space (which before that was a failed Greek restaurant) Stratta has, overnight, infused the Vegas dining scene with in-your-face flavors and take-no-prisoners ingredients that will have even seasoned gourmands shaking their head in appreciation.
And he’s doing it with Spanish tapas.
Yep, Spanish tapas. The real ones. The dishes of which are now as familiar as a French bistro menu to anyone who’s eaten out a lot over the past decade.
But these aren’t just any old versions of Medjool dates wrapped in bacon. These are dates wrapped in crispy pancetta served with an apple-mustard sauce of uncommon savoriness. Or roasted romaine hearts like the ones at the top of the page — draped with bouquerones and slivers of Idiazábal cheese — the whole tied together with a creamy garlic aioli that is by turns, sweet, sour and pungent.
Those sauces are but a glimpse of the high level of cooking going on here. We tried over a dozen dishes and the kitchen didn’t repeat a single one — something that’s a point of pride in Michelin-starred frog ponds (such as the ones Stratta trained in), but a rule that’s honored in the breach in most other restaurants of the world.
When a dish doesn’t come with a sauce, such as with Stratta’s black kale fritters:
…it’s because it doesn’t need one — the crunchy-soft-fruity-veggie textures and flavors playing off one another to great effect.
Stratta’s Bacalao — salt cod salad with olives, oranges and fennel:
(photo by endoedibles.com)
…might be the best use of this preserved fish we’ve ever had, and his baked Monte Enebro cheese with pistachio crust and caramelized onions:
…is what we like to think of as a queso fundido with a higher education.
Anyone who’s been around Spanish food knows that meat and cheese are stalwarts of any menu, but as good as the 20+ vegetable tapas are, it’s over-the-umami-top stars like Stratta’s bone marrow dip (served with Iberico ham “chips”):
….and oxtail stew finished with aged Xerez vinegar :
…that will have you dropping your forks to applaud.
The Moroccan chicken (not pictured), shot through with dried apricots and spices (fennel, coriander, cinnamon, star anise and black pepper), was more Othello than Asturian, but this rabbit and escargot paella:
…could’ve come straight from Don Quixote.
Tapas by Alex Stratta is the sort of restaurant you could eat at twice a week and never get bored. It is to the average tapas restaurant what an Alfa Romeo is to a Dodge Dart. If we were any of the other restaurants in Tivoli Village, we would be afraid.
We would be very afraid.
TAPAS BY ALEX STRATTA
In Tivoli Village
440 South Rampart Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89145
3 thoughts on “TAPAS BY ALEX STRATTA”
We were here last night, Sunday the 19th. The place was half full with the outside completly full. Tried their Gin special…..turned into 3 of them.
We had 8 dishes, bone marrow dip was very good, ceviche was with shrimp that actually had taste, who knew!! the cheese and pistachio dip…..those fine sliced onions….great. However it was the oxtail stew……WTF this was the beefiest tastiest richest dish I may have ever tasted. I want a quart of this gravy for…….I can think of all kinds of things, even sex play !! Nice to finally have a great place out here in the west burbs instead of VG all the time.
Must say not impressed with Alex Stratta’s newest restaurant although a few dishes were tasty prices are expensive (think strip) with small portions (expected). Im not one to complain about prices if the quality is present but it simply was not. After spending quite some time in Spain eating many of these dishes, Alex’s execution seemed to be lacking. Paella was extremely subpar and although it is a tapas restaurant $46 for two for basic paella is absurd at the tiny portion given. Ceviche was below average with a lack of texture and indiscernible differences in meats. Another comment, although expected in a new restaurant, service was pretty bad( missing dishes, wrong dishes, forgetting wine, etc.) Overall I was highly disappointed in Stratta’s new restaurant especially after his numerous successes. I would give this restaurant a 5/10 with a 0 chance of returning. Dinner for two $235. Contrary to John’s belief, Tapas by Alex Stratta will not be a lasting fixture in Tivoli.
Was there last night. Have to echo the comments of Jim M. Based upon my previous partaken fare at Stratta’s Wynn resturants, this seems a bit off his mark in both quality, quanity and service. Nothing was terribly bad, nothing was terribly good. As noted food portions small ( ok Tapas, we got it) and what we ordered ( 10 dishes amongst 4 people) was nothing to say “wow” got to have that again! Prices are what you would expect from a celebrity chef venue (Not as high as Strip, but dont look for a low cost date night here). Thus a return in the near future would be slim. Trivoli is a hit and miss location for any establishment so one needs a compelling reason to go. Sorry but this may be another bust for the reasons cited. The one pass I will give any new venue is that maybe in 6 months when the kinks are worked out it might make a reason to return. But it is going to be a tough go for Stratta if he doesnt adjust quickly
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