Basta Pasta – Spaghetti in Black and White
It’s that time of year boys and girls, the time when ELV — the man, the myth, the arbiter of all things tasteful in Vegas — is hard at work updating his research for the next edition of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants. (Yes, we know the most recent edition hit the newsstands only a couple of months ago, but we are planning a bigger and better edition for 2017! Set to be published in mid-November, just in time for Christmas giving!)
What this means is we are out and about almost every night, checking on menus, taking stock of chefs, parsing various delicacies, and making hairbreadth decisions on who makes it into the pages of the next edition.
What it also means is that we’ve been eating a lot of pasta lately….and loving it.
Take for example Francesco di Caudo’s silky, garlicky and spicy spaghetti aglio e olio (spaghetti in garlic and oil, pictured above). It is deceptively simple — appearing as barely anything more than a fist-sized tangle of noodles on a simple white plate. But what you bite into is the stuff macaroni dreams are made of.
Where di Caudo goes for elegant simplicity, Brett Uniss (recently installed as top toque at B&B Ristorante) aims to slap you up side of the head with a splash of serious summer seafood in his black spaghetti with seppie (cuttlefish) lemon and chili (below). Both dishes pack a kick (those chilies, you know), that threatens to overwhelm the main ingredients of the dish, but never succeeds — in other words, doing exactly what seasonings are supposed to do. Both are textbook examples of subtlety mixed with in-your-face flavor. No mean feat that.
I was pretty down in the dumps about the state of Italian food in Vegas when Valentino, Bartolotta and Circo folded their tents a couple of years ago. (Truth be told, Circo had been on the decline for years, and Paul B. hadn’t been around much either, but the three of them still represented a high-water mark of sorts for Italian dining in Vegas.) But with the resurgence of Ferraro’s, and the work Michael LaPlaca is doing at Portofino, and now Uniss (a cook with serious chops) helming B & B, not to mention the over-the-top stuff being done at Carbone and Allegro, those needing a fix of fantastic noodles are pretty much in hog heaven these days.
And you might say our Italian Renaissance 2.0 is suddenly in full bloom.
FERRARO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT & WINE BAR
4480 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89169
Venetian Hotel and Casino
3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109