Sourdough Bread, Red Fife Sourdough Bread, Olive Oil
Fiore di Pesca – Ketel One Peach and Orange Blossom Vodka, Patron Citronge Mango, Blood Orange
Foie Gras Pastrami, Brioche, Rose Mostarda
Veal Tartare, Crispy Sweetbreads, Pecorino Romano
Almond Tortellini, Truffle Butter, Alba White Truffles
Swiss Chard Gnocchi, Brown Butter, Ricotta Salata
Casoncelli alla Bergsmasca, Sage, Pancetta
Malfadini, Duck, Olives
Chestnut Fettucine, Wild Boar Ragu, Cocoa
Whole Smoked Baby Goat, Soft Polenta
Double Espresso, Biscotti
Sicilian Pistachio Flan, Milk Chocolate Gelato
Chocolate Polenta Souffle, Vanilla Gelato / Pear Almond Tart, Honey Gelato / Bomboloni, Huckleberry Jam
Ricotta Gelato, Dark Chocolate Shell, Hazelnuts, Agrumato
Polenta Budino, Gianduja Mousse, Candied Hazelnuts
Gingerbread Gelato, Chocolate Gelato, Vanilla Gelato, Honey Gelato
Lemon Sorbetti, Grapefruit Sorbetti
Snickerdoodle, Chocolate Chip, Peppermint Macaron, Lemon Cookies, Italian Wedding Cookies, Pomegranate Thumb Print Cookies
Trained in the kitchens of Bergamo Italy but born stateside Marc Vetri’s name may not carry the weight of some “Celebrity Chefs,” but at his eponymous Restaurant in Philadelphia there has nonetheless been a book full of reservations for two decades, and in November 2018 the husband, father, musician, author and humanitarian transported his iconic dining room 56 stories above the Las Vegas Strip.
Titled Vetri Cucina and occupying the former home of Alizé, a space that has been completely re-imagined with imported cobblestone, warm wood and soft lighting, it is after a ride in elevators that guests will find themselves in a foyer where classical music plays, the hostess stand just steps beyond and in front of a bar where David “Coop” Cooper has found a new home after years at Carnevino.
In many ways Sin City’s biggest opening of 2018, the willingness off Station Casinos to invest in Fine Dining admirable as so many properties revert to quick casual, it is after confirming reservations that guests are led to tables clad in white tablecloths and hand-blown glasses, tiny candles flickering as bright lights glow below and into the distance.
Featuring a la carte service as opposed to Chef Vetri’s Philadelphia Tasting Menu, a necessity of the local market that occasionally makes prices seem a touch high, it is by servers also recognizable from Mario Batali’s shuttered Steakhouse that diners are offered warm professionalism, those looking to imbibe encouraged to enjoy selections from a lengthy Wine list or one of Coop’s Cocktails from which Fiore di Pesca drinks Fruit-forward but still boozy before a lightly floral finish.
Offering both Marc’s classics and newer seasonal items, a Bread program captained by Chefs Ashley Costa and Vetri veteran Amanda Shulman built around the Chef’s aged Starter beautifully structured, it was with two Antipasti that Dinner was underway, the cured Foie Gras smooth and nicely balanced by housemade Jam on Toast while Veal Tartare starts deceptively simple before evolving more and more with each bite.
Moving next to Pasta, the appropriate focus of any visit to Vetri Cucina, it was to two recipes from the book “Il Viaggio di Vetri” that guests were next treated, the Almond Tortellini fondly recalled from Philly here topped in Alba White Truffles and even better than memory serves while Spinach Gnocchi re-created from Swiss Chard remain the same gravity-defying spheres that seem only held to the plate by Cheese and Brown Butter.
Requesting additional Bread to sop up Sauce, the overall lack of Tomatoes expected as a result of Marc’s regional approach, it is straight from Bergamo that the kitchen led by Chef Josh Bianchi sends forth Casoncelli alla Bergsmasca, the pockets of shredded Beef and Breadcrumbs made more impactful by Sage and batons of Pork while crumpled ribbons of Malfadini offer gentle spring amidst hearty Duck Ragu and sliced Olives.
Offered one final Pasta before Secondi, razor-thin Fettuccini unfortunately a little overcooked beneath Wild Boar and Cocoa that adds minerality not dissimilar to Blood, those looking for something a little different from Fish and Steak should immediately invest $52 in smoked Baby Goat, the Ribs and Saddle both succulent atop Polenta drowning in Butter, though the former would be easier to eat with Bones disarticulated…or at least with a serrated knife.
Taking Espresso with Dolci, the complete collection of Vetri’s classics and new ideas from Chef Costa on display, those who do not prefer Citrus and Chocolate together may wish to avoid Ricotta Gelato and Agrumato that also comes across a bit oily, the far better pick for Chocoholics a molten-center “Souffle” while those seeking Fruit will be delighted by housemade Sorbetti, a rustic Pear Tart or Ashley’s Doughnuts that are spot on to what she once served inside the Palazzo.
Cleansing the palate between plates with bites of Gelato, both Gingerbread and Honey lovely but Vanilla on a whole different level, if one were forced to pick Vetri Cucina’s *best* Dessert the decision would fall between Sicilian Pistachio “Flan” and a Polenta Budino with Gianduja Mousse, the former spilling silky green contents with each spoonful but the Budino a textural masterpiece without being too sweet while Mignardises are highlighted by quickly dissolving Wedding Cookies and Cinnamon-crusted cubes of Poundcake described as Snickerdoodles.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: In 2010 Vetri was easily the best meal during a year of light travel, similar accolades deserved in 2012 for an extended tasting at 1312 Spruce Street, and in 2018 it is an honor to have Vetri Cucina in Las Vegas where a few small tweaks could very well make it the best Italian Restaurant in town, an area where it already stakes its claim in terms of ambiance and location.
RECOMMENDED: Fiore di Pesca,Foie Gras Pastrami, Almond Tortellini, Swiss Chard Gnocchi, Casoncelli alla Bergsmasca, Whole Smoked Baby Goat, Vanilla Gelato, Sicilian Pistachio Flan, Bomboloni, Polenta Budino, Snickerdoodle.
AVOID: Even for those who like Dark Chocolate and Citrus the amount of Olive Oil used on the Ricotta Gelato Dessert is too much.
TIP: For those who keep saying Vetri is “too expensive” please see what Mario used to charge for Pasta at Carnevino, or what Sinatra or Rao’s still sell today. Additionally one can home Marc and his team see enough success locally to bring their Community Partnership West. www.vetricommunity.org
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.