Naked City Pizza at The El Cortez
$1.99 Classic Shrimp Cocktail
Stromboli Platter – Marinara
Grandma’s Meatball – Toasted Bread, Marinara, Parmesan
Chicken Parm Sub – Mozzarella, Marinara
Satriale Cold Sub – Salami, Ham, Provolone, Basil Pesto, Roasted Sweet Peppers, Shredded Lettuce, Marinated Tomato
1/2 Cheese and 1/2 Pepperoni Pizza
Fremont Street Pizza – House Italian Sausage, Banana Peppers, Cheddar, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Parmesan, White Garlic Sauce, Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2017 was certainly a strange year for Christopher Palmeri, the sudden and unexpected shutter of Naked City Tavern a major disappointment to the Chef and his supporters but deals with both the Race Track and 51s plus a consulting job with Bacon Bar and Blue Diamond’s Naked City Express keeping he and brother Michael busy, it was on the final day of the year that nine guests sat down inside Naked City’s newest venture, a Restaurant inside Downtown Las Vegas’ El Cortez Casino.
Without doubt one of Sin City’s hardest working Chefs, a resume including Robuchon plus a period as Executive Chef on the Strip giving Palmeri both the skill and desire to do something more personal even before he turned Moon Doggies into a DDD-destination, it was on December 1st that Chris received the keys to El Cortez’s former Coffee Shop, he and his staff quickly converting the signage and slinging slices to those in the know ever since.
Located just off the gaming floor on the east side of the aged Casino on Fremont, a wide breadth of space and good ventilation thankfully keeping the interior fairly smokeless, it was moments prior to noon that the first guests arrived to find Christopher and his father busy preparing for a large New Year’s Eve catering gig, both taking a moment to say hello when the rest of the party arrived and checking in intermittently throughout the meal.
Offering several Naked City classics plus new items, a video board on the exterior wall and laminated menus inside joined by Cold Sandwiches, Desserts and Pizza by the Slice at the counter, it was deferring an order to the staff that Lunch began with Caprese Salad spears followed by a throwback Shrimp Cocktail, just $1.99 netting a whole lot of tender Shellfish atop shredded Lettuce plus Cocktail Sauce teaming with Horseradish.
Serving everything family-style, three sliced Stromboli loaded with Salami and melted Mozzarella plus a bowl of warm Marinara Sauce proving far better than The Four Kegs version made famous by Guy Fieri, it was as a replacement for Naked City Pizza’s Meatball Skillet that Chef next delivered two of “Grandma’s Meatball,” the $7.50 cost an absolute steal for what must have been a pound or more of nicely seasoned Beef in a pool of Sauce with toasted Bread and shaved Cheese.
Turning next to two Naked City Subs, this part of the menu as yet much smaller than at either Arville or Paradise, suffice it to say that either the $10.95 Chicken Parm or $9.95 Satriale is more than most will be able to finish on their own, the former double-stacked with breaded Breast Meat while its cold counterpart features sliced Salami, Ham and Cheese complimented by housemade Pesto, Peppers and Tomatoes brightened by Vinaigrette.
Accounting for two youths at the table with one $14.50 Cheese Pie half-topped in Cup n’ Char Pepperoni, Naked City at The El Cortez thus far only offering full-sheets or Slices, it was after tasting one crispy corner that attention shifted towards the new Fremont Street Pizza, Palmeri’s house-blend Italian Sausage adding its meaty flavor to a background of four Cheeses plus Garlic White Sauce, Banana Peppers and Breadcrumbs for added texture.
Opting to outsource Desserts save for Naked City’s textbook Cannolis thus far, Chef Douglas Taylor’s new gig at Jerry’s Nugget coming fully equipped with a bakeshop that the Mina and Batali alumnus hopes to use as a wholesale outlet to likeminded Restaurateurs, it was alongside nine crisp Shells piped with creamy filling that guests enjoyed white Sponge Cake layered in Strawberries and Cream before diving into moist Chocolate Cake wrapped with Ganache around thick ribbons of Kahlúa Cream, the present yet subtle Liquor giving each bite a Tiramisu-reminiscent finish.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: The realization of yet another goal for Christopher and Michael Palmeri, Naked City Pizza inside a Las Vegas Casino, fans will be delighted to now find their favorite slice plus some new ideas in a whole new part of town while out-of-towners can now get a taste of the locally born product they’ve seen on TV without venturing outside the major tourist corridor.
RECOMMENDED: Stromboli, Grandma’s Meatball, Satriale Sub, Fremont Street Pizza, Kahlúa Cake, Cannoli.
AVOID: For now only Slices and Full Sheets of Pizza are available as opposed to the three sizes offered at other locations.
TIP: 11a-2a daily inside The El Cortez at 600 East Fremont Street, but don’t forget the long-anticipated Buffalo Bills Playoff watch-party beginning 10am Sunday at all four Naked City locations.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.