Eating Las Vegas

John Curtas is …

SETTEBELLO on the move

Pizza lovers rejoice! Settebello, maker of simply the best pizzas in town (and the best pizzas in Salt Lake City and the only ones certified as authentic by Italian authorities as Vera Pizza Napolentana-real Italian pizza), has announced plans to move from its present location at Valle Verde and Horizon Ridge (commonly referred to by EATingLV.com as the middle of bleeping nowhere) to The District II (a slightly more accessible location in the franchise-restaurant wasteland that is Monochrome Valley.)

Rumor also has it that owner Brad Otton and his pizzaiolo Carmine D’Amato (a master of the craft of pizza making), are scouting locations on the west side of town. Hope springs eternal.

Click here to hear my review of Settebello on News 88.9 FM-Nevada Public Radio.

Click here to watch a YouTube video of D’Amato doing what he does best-to a jazzy Italian soundtrack. But don’t blame me if you can’t understand anything; those darn Italians have a different word for everything!

SETTEBELLO

1776 Horizon Ridge Pkwy.

Henderson. NV 89012

702.647.3556

www.settebello.net

MARCHE BACCHUS update

Those who know me know that I’ve complained loudly about the food at Marche Bacchus for the past several years. As much as I liked prior owners Gregoire and Agate Verge, they ran the kitchen here as an afterthought to their wine store. Much of the food seemed Sysco-inspired (not to mention supplied), and their persistence in serving a sub-standard plat des fromage (cheese platter), should’ve been an embarassment, but strangely, never was.

When Rhonda and Jeff Wyatt bought the place last year, the menu improved under Chef Christophe Ithurrize, but still didn’t compete in any way with the bistro classics being churned out by Mon Ami Gabi, much less the ethereal ouefs and pommes and tartes being served at Payard.

Now word comes our way from super-restaurant sleuth and Heat Communications guy Ken Langdon, that one of our favorite chefs, Jean-David Groff-Daudet has become top toque at this neighborhood institution in Desert Shores. We had no idea a Daudet play was in sway when we first reported his foray (at Pamplemousse) in an essay of this mainstay….much to our dismay.

But I’ll try not to flay, as Daudet’s array at Marche will cause an hooray, providing he stays, and plays in the ways of the great Francais.

Reno 911!

If ever a town was in the throes of a restaurant emergency, Reno is it. And if only the food in Reno were half as good as that show is funny, all would be forgiven….Unfortunately, however, what you find in The Biggest Little City In The World are hotels and casinos so outdated and shopworn, that they make Fremont Street in Vegas look like the Champs-Elysee.

If I were forced to find sustenance in this culinary backwater (and lately, I’ve been forced to a lot), I’d steer clear of the hotels-unless you’re fond of restaurants that haven’t changed their menus since 1979. La Strada in the El Dorado* has serviceable Italian food, and believe it or not The Men’s Club (a “gentlemen’s club”**.. a block from Virginia Street-the main drag) does some fine things with seafood, sushi and steaks. That is, if you don’t mind slurping decent oysters and savoring salmon skin rolls among a bunch of pink tacos.

Both restaurants have garnered Awards of Excellence from the Wine Spectator for their wine lists; although neither will give the Wine Directors of Aureole (Bill Scherrer) or ALEX (Paolo Barbieri), any palpitations.

What will cause palpitations (and, perhaps, slight nausea, or, at the very least, visceral confusion) is the sight of gorgeous young things gamely gyrating on patrons’ crotches whilst they pretend to play with their own. Yours truly doesn’t like to mix his pleasures or his perversions, so I begged off–the stripper not the steak.

My two best meals were at Louis’ Basque Corner-a place that’s been serving garlic-laden, family-style Basque food forever-and the relatively new (5+ years) Beaujolais-a classic bistro with superb renditions of French classics.

Eating at Beaujolais made me wistful for everything the Las Vegas restaurant doesn’t have. A neighborhood restaurant, it is located in an old building (just blocks from downtown), has around 50 seats, a four seat bar, and a decent (and surprisingly large) wine list. The menu lists 9 apps and 8 mains, and a couple of desserts. That’s it. My roulade of pig’s trotters couldn’t have been more gelatinous or more perfect, and the gamey and sweet braised rabbit actually tasted of rabbit-not the bland just-like-chicken meat you might expect. Chef/owner Bill Gilbert keeps things simple and precise, and I can only dream of the day some Las Vegas chef takes a cue from such an operation.

* Owned by Don Carano of Ferrari-Carano winemaking fame….And by the way, a member of the Nevada State Bar, i.e. an attorney who’s a legitimate wino, and, unlike some of my bretheren, respected for it.

** Although the number of “gentlemen” in these types of places is highly debatable.

BEAUJOLAIS BISTRO

130 West Street

Reno, NV 89501

775.323.2227

www.beaujolais.com

Louis’ Basque Corner is just a good plate of honest grub, albeit with enough garlic on the meat to make a Sicilian rethink his catechism. Strangely though, we suffered very few digestive consequences from this onslaught. The drill is you sit down at a communal table, are told of the 4 or 5 main courses offered that day, pick one, and then are served a parade of soup, salad and side dishes for the table. Just like the Greeks, they criminally overcook their lamb, but the chicken Basquaise and cabbage soup are winners. Lunch for two ran $25 with a small carafe of chilled red wine (take that, you snooty sommeliers!)

p.s. The Santa Fe Hotel has similar Basque family dinners, and is only a couple of blocks away.

LOUIS’ BASQUE CORNER

301 East 4th Street

Reno, NV 89512

775.323.7203

Here is

my meager Reno travelogue, befitting a town with so little photograph-able food.

John’s Tweets

John at Work Restaurant reviews, quips, picks and pans-with some seriously salivating history-from the man who eats his way through Sin City every day.
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