Back in the fall, I won a drawing for a $100 gift card for dinner…
Yes, I’m eating Fish in a Desert! (I say that because on one of my first trips to Las Vegas, I was in a cab with a very colorful driver. One of his lines on restaurants was “and don’t ask me where to eat fish – in case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the middle of the desert.” For some reason, that has stuck with me all these years…….)
As I mentioned in a previous post, Lori and I ended up taking a trip to Las Vegas for our 24th anniversary last summer. Planning the trip was very difficult since there are just so many fantastic restaurants that it would take a long time and a VERY large bank account to try them all. The dinner at Rao’s was a given and the reservations were made. I had a list (a long list) of restaurants that I wanted to try while we were there.
I put one restaurant on the list because I had read articles about it in various magazines and reviews. I decided to wait until we were in Vegas before picking the other restaurant so I could ask around.
I finally decided to try the Bartolotta Ristorante Di Mare located in the Wynn Resort. In 2004, Paul Bartolotta left Chicago and his restaurants in Milwaukee to create this restaurant at the Wynn. As he grew up in Milwaukee, he cooked at various restaurants and graduated from a local technical college. He was off to New York then Europe for what ended up being 7 years in Italy and France. He returned to New York and worked with Mr. May on two of his restaurants. His experience included moving to Chicago and opening a Milwaukee restaurant empire with his brother Joe. Chef Bartolotta won many accolades including the 1994 James Beard Foundation Award as Best Chef: Midwest.
After being selected by Steve Wynn to create and open the Italian restaurant for the Wynn Resort, Bartolotta Ristorane Di Mare was born.
What drew me to this restaurant is the creation of a Mediterranean experience in the middle of the Nevada desert. At Bartolotta, fresh seafood is flown from the Mediterranean to Las Vegas for the restaurant. The fish served at the restaurant was swimming the in Mediterranean less than 48 hours before…. Since some of the best seafood I’ve had has been at restaurants on the Mediterranean in Italy and Monaco, I decided I wanted to try the restaurant out and see if it would transport me almost halfway around the world.
The restaurant focuses on fresh seafood and Italian coastal cuisine. The fish is cooked and brought out whole and in our case, fileted table side. They offer a preparation where the fish is roasted in a salt dome – a method I had read about and seen on TV food shows, but this was a first for me.
We started with a scallop appetizer and moved on to a pasta course of risotto and gnocchi. Everything was exquisite!
From there we moved on to the main show – our Mediterranean fish. Our waiter rolled the fish out in its salt dome on a cart to the table.
Next, he expertly cracked the top of the salt dome and lifted it off. After clearing away more of the salt, he pulled the skin off and proceeded to filet the fish for us.
Now you may be thinking that the fish was very salty after being cooked in salt, but it wasn’t. It was very nicely flavored and the salt dome holds in the moisture of the fish so it comes out almost steamed. The fish was cooked perfectly. While I was still sitting in the middle of the desert, for a few minutes, it seemed that we were sitting in an outside café listening to the waves of the Med crashing onto the beach. All in all, the dinner was more than I expected and I was very glad that we chose to dine at Bartolotta’s. I can heartily recommend a visit to Bartolotta whenever you find yourself in Vegas.
I will say that the check was not for the faint of heart – after all, those first class tickets for the fish aren’t cheap. It was our most expensive dinner in Vegas on this trip, but well worth it!
For our 24th anniversary in 2014, CC and I decided to fly to Las Vegas and partake of some of the best restaurants while there. We had a wonderful seafood dinner at the Wynn’s restaurant, Bartolotta. We knew we were going to be in for a treat as soon as we were seated at our beautiful table setting overlooking one of the Wynn pools.
CC had anxiously been waiting for this day. Our very educated waiter came to the table and to present the fresh Mediterranean fish flown in daily. We decided on the El Dorado which compares to Mahi-mahi. He took the fish away to be properly prepared. While we waited we were served a scrumptious scallop salad with the largest scallops I have ever seen. It was on top of a bed of arugula in a delicious dressing. This and the fresh bread placed on our table in a silver bread dish set the stage.
We could not decide on the pasta options so we decided we must have two of them. The risotto di mare was very creamy while the gnocchi was fluffy and had just the right amount of sauce tossed with it.
The waiter came back with the prepared whole fish and began filleting it in front of us and placing it on our plates beside the sliced roasted potatoes and grilled zucchini.
We have eaten all over the world but I have to say this meal was up at the top of all them in caliber. We decided to pass on dessert and walk around a bit where we ended up with a small gelato to finish off the night.