If you love strips of gelatinous, head-cheese-like substances and grayish-tan, pork liver-loaf-like lunch meat on your sandwiches – and let’s face it who doesn’t? – then you need to high tail it over to Nhu Lan Restaurant and Karaoke Bar on Spring Mountain Road.
As much as ELV would like you to think that we are the ne plus ultra of food writers, possessing that essential je ne sais quois,* in moments of certain humility,** we’ve been known to recognize the superiority of other journalists.*** One such bloke is Edward Behr, a fellow who I imagine looks a lot like his name as he pecks away in upper Vermont churning out the Art of Eating four times a year for the food cognescenti**** in America.
A poll was taken among the staff at ELV, and it was unanimous that OSTERIA DEL CIRCO in the Bellagio is our favorite Italian restaurant. CIRCO (pronounced: CHEER-ko) has been dazzling us for ten years, and its most recent chef, Vincenzo Scarmiglia is one our favorite Italian toques (along with Luciano Pelligrini and Paul Bartolotta) and one of the big reasons Circo has ruled the roost of Tuscan restaurants in Las Vegas since it opened.
The son of a Tuscan fisherman, Scarmiglia hails from Orbetello, Italy. His first restaurant job was as a line cook at the esteemed IL GAMBERO ROSSO in Porto Ercole. From there he worked his way through many prestigious Italian kitchens before landing at VALENTINO in the Venetian, which he helped Pelligrini open in 1999. From there it was a short hop to BARTOLOTTA as Assistant Chef, and then to the now defunct Terrazza in Caesars, before taking over the kitchen at Circo.
He makes this dish with fresh, egg tagliolini (a smaller version of tagliatelle), but told me dried works just as well (with just about any pasta dish except ravioli – that Scarmiglia insists must always be fresh). But there’s nothing quite like watching an Italian chef work three simple ingredients: eggs, semolina and all-purpose flour, into something so toothsome. Making pasta looks remarkably easy when he does it, but neophyte home cooks would be well advised to stick with store-bought.