James Beard Foundation Award–winning chef Paul Bartolotta’s gorgeously designed, multilevel, indoor/outdoor space is proof that celebrity chefs are all very well and good, but it’s not the same as having them on the premises. In this case, the result is as authentic Italian food as one can find outside Italy. The fish is flown in daily straight from the Mediterranean to his Vegas kitchen, and you can expect a wide array from the familiar to the virtually unknown; the server will walk you through the choices, all lovingly displayed in a tableside case. Most are prepared in light butter and/or olive oil and filleted at your table, allowing the rich, decidedly nonfishy taste to burst through. A Mediterranean sea bass seemed like a safe choice, but we were rewarded with a robust flavor that would convert all but the most vehement of anti-seafood campaigners. Langoustines are grilled to charred smoky rightness, and seared scallops with porcini mushrooms in browned butter are what scallops should be. Pastas are perfect, especially the maccheroni, a hand-rolled spaghetti in Tuscan meat sauce. And don’t miss dessert (like we need to tell you that), especially the selection of house-made ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. Prices are palpitation-inducing, but this is one of those rare instances where it is totally worth it, especially if you can get a table alfresco alongside the reflecting pool. Heaven.
- Rick Garman