Monday, June 6, 2011

Scarpetta - Memorable, Innovative Italian at The Cosmopolitan

There is a new dining mecca in Las Vegas, and its name is “The Cosmopolitan,” at the City Center project in the middle of the Strip.  Thirteen dining options and bars too numerous to count fit within this sleek, contemporary hotel/casino.  We impatiently waited six months to experience these culinary opportunities, but over a four day stay we were only able to sample a portion of the restaurants.  Since my dining companion continues to extend Lent, we did not try any of the myriad bars that populate the hotel/casino’s nooks and crannies.  But you should as they all looked most enticing.

We eagerly tried Scarpetta, by award winning chef Scott Conant.  With restaurants in New York, Toronto, Miami, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, this young chef has established himself as a force within the culinary scene.  His food is innovative, yet still pays homage to traditional, Old World Italian cuisine.  Scarpetta is an Italian expression that means “little shoe,” or the shape bread takes when used to soak up a dish.  Frankly, I spent days looking through high-end shoe emporiums and saw nothing closely resembling a piece of sodden bread.  So there may be substantial liberty taken in the creation of this expression.

Scarpetta provided one of the most memorable meals of the trip, and not just because of the fabulous view from our window table that overlooked the Bellagio water show that serenaded us every fifteen minutes.  From the moment we stepped through the door, the service was personable and attentive, without being invasive or patronizing.  The bar is the perfect place to start your dining experience.  It is luxuriously trendy and the signature libations are creative.  As I sipped my San Remo and listened to the piped in music (I will admit to Shazaaming and downloading a number of songs for dining pleasure at home), I was enveloped by instant calm.   A wonderful way to start the culinary dance that follows. 

After a thorough review of the exciting menu, we decided the best course of action was the Signature Tasting Menu with wine pairing.  As with most tasting menus, the entire table is asked to participate, and with little prodding my companion agreed to do so.  This was a phenomenal value and excellent way to try several of the signature dishes. 

Amuse Bouche'


Crispy, light, seasoned strips of zucchini, calamari, eggplant, and rosemary.  Delightful way to start the experience.

First Course:

Duo of Yellowtail and Tuna "Susci"
Adami, Proseco, Veneto, N/V

Excellent dish that awakened the tastebuds, and had the perfect combination of citrus to accompany the tuna.
Second Course:

Roasted Sea Scallops, Porcini Mushrooms & Sunchokes
Iberian Remix, Albarino, Edna Valley 2009

These sea scallops were cooked to perfection, the caramelization creating a nice contrast to the texture of the scallops.  The porcini mushrooms and sunchokes provided a perfect accompaniment as they had the characteristics and aroma of an elegant au jus sauce.    Albarino from Edna Valley - amazing pairing!  Albarino is a great food wine.

Third Course:

Spaghetti Tomato Basil & Duck Foie Gras Ravioli
Marcarini, Barbera d' Alba, Piedmont 2007

The Spaghetti totally rocked!  Simple dish, with superior ingredients.  Tasted as if they had tomatoes growing on the roof of The Cosmopolitan that were freshly picked off the vine.

The Duck Foie Gras Ravioli was elegant, refined, and wonderfully balanced with a balsamic reduction sauce.  The wine pairing went exceptionally well and helped balance the richness in flavors from the foie gras.

Fourth Course:

Black Cod, Caramelized Fennel & Tomatoes
Jermann Red Angel, Pinot Noir, Friulli 2007

This dish was one of the showstoppers for the evening.  The skin on the black cod was crispy, the meat succulent, and the flavors complex but discernable.  Caramelized Fennel is amazing, and I will attempt replicating this at home.  Again, another phenomenal wine pairing.

Fifth Course:

Pancetta-Wrapped Veal Loin, Sweetbreads, Peas & Carrots
Feudi di San Gregorio, Rubrato, Aglianico, Campania 2006

Anything wrapped in Pancetta is a weakness of mine and this  was no exception.  The veal loin was perfectly cooked and, as always, the pancetta fulfilled its duty to add just a hint of flavor and pork fat.  The sweetbreads added a nice texture and flavor.  This wine pairing was possibly my favorite of the night.  It was rich, bold and elegant, just like the dish.


Amedei Chocolate Cake Toasted Almond Gelato
Panna Cotta with Citrus Sauce
Castellare, St. Niccolo, Vin Santo, Tuscany 2004

Because chocolate gives me a migraine, the Panna Cotta was graciously substituted for the cake.  So we got to experience two fabulous desserts (or at least my companion did).  Each worked as a great end to a perfect meal.   The wine served was intriguing, as it smelled and had a taste of port to it, but danced across the palate like a glass of sparkling.    Heavenly!

The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Open 7 days
Sun-Thurs 5:30 to 11 pm
Fri-Sat 5:40 to 12 am
Reservations available online through Open Table, or call 877-551-7772

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