Chef Marc’s Trattoria
Pizza Focaccia and Warm Semolina Bread with Butter
Uni Crostini, Figs, Blueberries, Blackberries, Wasabi Leaves
Fava Bean Leaves, Aged Parmigianino, Grapes
Buratta Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, 10-Year Aged Balsamic
Pork Belly & Bone Marrow with Polenta, Pickled Fennel Bulb and Parsley Salad
Eggplant Parm, Marinara, Tempura Basil and Sage
Spinach Agnolotti with Lamb, Mortadella, Beef, Chicken and Ricotta in Butter Sage Sauce
Sesame Seed Crusted Line Caught Halibut with Handmade Squid Ink Spaghetti, Romano Beans, Scallop Bisque
Braised Veal Short Rib with Polenta and Peppered Rapini
Malfiata with Shredded Beef Short Rib
Butter Rum Cake and Tiramisu
Born Marcus Sgrizzi, but known locally as Chef Marc, it was before officially relocating to Las Vegas that a visit to Parma acquainted me with the Chef’s well-deserved acclaim, and subsequently meeting some now-close friends by way of an event held at Novecento it seemed strange that Trattoria by Chef Marc had slipped beneath my radar nearly nine months since opening, the move finding Mr. Sgrizzi now in a more refined space only ten minutes from my gate.
East Coast raised, but well traveled throughout Italy with an ‘effort equals results’ sort of mentality that sees Marc and his team scratch-make everything from Bread and Pasta to Desserts and Sauces in-house, Trattoria by Chef Marc sits just outside The Lakes on West Sahara Avenue in a space formerly inhabited by Argana Moroccan Restaurant, the interior featuring heavy woods and marble plus a hand-built Wine Vault with sound a bit louder than would be ideal due to the combination of hard surfaces and overhead music, though a near-full-house of locals still did not make things so noisy that one would be forced to shout.
Offering an a la carte menu plus a $65 “Chef’s Table” that sees diners preferences incorporated into a tasting otherwise left in the kitchen’s hands, it was by request that Marc and his team crafted an ‘extended’ version of the latter experience that eventually turned into eleven courses including several menu favorites, the quality of many comparing favorably to Casino-based restaurants charging more than twice the price.
Well established in the city, and as such forming relationships with high quality purveyors of Italian goods plus vegetables brought in from Melissa’s Produce of California, a meal at Trattoria begins with Sgrizzi’s bread basket and although little packets of cold butter seem a bit out of place in an environment where Olive Oil should come standard the Bread itself is as delicious as it is dangerous, both the Pizza Focaccia and warm Semolina loaf difficult to resist, particularly as a means for sopping up sauces.
No doubt looking to build on past successes and further strengthen a menu filled with the time-tested recipes on which he built his name, first courses of the Chef’s Table saw Chef Marc dabbling in fresh ingredients that he has recently become fond of, the Sea Urchin seemingly served as a means to work with seasonal Fruits and Wasabi leaf while the inspired Salad that followed tasted very much like Fava Beans despite the fact that only Greens, Grapes, Cheese and Seasoning were mingling on the plate.
Turning eyes to the laminated menu for a moment, the Buratta Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and aged Balsamic expected but delicious in its simplicity just the same, course four saw Chef Marc take on the hefty pairing of Pork Belly and Bone Marrow with a keen sense of delicacy, the supple pig stacked atop buttered toast while the hemisected Cannon saw its creamy contents delicious whether mixed into Polenta or enjoyed with Picked Fennel Bulb and traditional Parsley Salad.
Personally requesting the Eggplant Parm, a small wedge offered alongside house Marinara and lightly fried herbs, a nightly special Pasta next saw soft Meat and Ricotta spring to life in a butter sauce tinged in Nutmeg and Sage, the line-caught Halibut to follow both meaty and flaky beneath a skin of crisp Sesame Seeds with rich Scallop Bisque lent levity by Pasta and snappy Italian Beans.
Refreshing the palate with Lemon Sorbetto, the icy texture needing a bit of work, another special of Braised Veal Short Rib ate much like Osso Bucco with both the White Wine of the braising liquid and spicy Greens serving as balance, a small portion of the deconstructed Lasagna using a similar cut of Meat every bit as excellent when baked with Mozzarella.
Rounding out the evening with half-portions of Butter Rum Cake and Tiramisu, both made by Marc’s Wife, desserts were well made if not a little predictable, the only other option offered a Crème Brulee that seems more “Summerlin” than Italian in a place where something like Canolli, Budino or even an Italian Cookie Plate would better round out the night.
FOUR STARS: Without doubt the most creative Italian spot on the West side of the Valley, and in the conversation for most labor intensive kitchen off-strip, Trattoria shows Chef Marc back in his element creating great food and welcoming guests to his kitchen, a work in progress that is already pretty great.
RECOMMENDED: Chef’s Table – Specifically Pork Belly & Bone Marrow, Line Caught Halibut, Veal Short Rib, Malfiata.
AVOID: Seats in the main dining room can get very loud, so early arrival or seating adjacent the bar are recommended for those sensitive to noise.
TIP: The restaurant offers outdoor seating during appropriate weather conditions.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.