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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

What's In a Name? Carnevino Feature

What’s in a Name?

Carnevino = meat + wine

Story by Bob Gourley

Photography provided by Carnevino    


It won’t be long until the inaugural Audi Henderson Lake Las Vegas Classic takes place. Carnevino at the Palazzo is one of the restaurants that will feature some of their outstanding menu items at the event.

Celebrity Chef Mario Batali and entrepreneur Joe Bastianich opened Carnevino in January of 2008. Batali is best known for his work on ABC’s “The Chew.” He is also the author of ten cookbooks and heads The Mario Batali Foundation with the mission of feeding, protecting, and empowering children worldwide. Bastianich is a well-known restaurant entrepreneur.

Carnevino is a massive place with four dining rooms, including one that sits across a main thoroughfare of the hotel. Judging from the crowd that was already there early on a Tuesday evening, I’m sure every inch of space is well utilized. “Classic elegance” are two words to describe the ambiance. It is almost like entering an Italian villa as one of the attentive staff members walks you to the table and you see walls adorned with pristine tapestries. Without a doubt this is definitely a place that elevates your mood for the gastronomical feast that is to come    

As the name says, Carne (meat) and Vino (wine) combine for an experience you won’t find anywhere else on the Strip. Batali’s recipes are artfully presented by Culinary Director Nicole Brisson, a native of upstate New York who was introduced to the restaurant industry at her grandfather’s restaurant in Saratoga. She was Chef di Cucina at OTTO for three years before being appointed to her current position in 2016.

You can feel the passion she has in describing the essence of the place. “It is an Italian steakhouse that is unique because of huge farm-to-table antipasti that we get from as many local purveyors that we can,” she says. “We have amazing handmade pasta made by my ladies who spend eight hours every day making the beef cheeks and everything else.”

Steaks are certainly the star of the show. Adam Perry Lang oversees the beef. The cuts are organic, super-prime, and dry-aged for up to 120 days in an off-site location. They are rubbed with sea salt, black pepper, and fresh rosemary to achieve extraordinary tenderness and flavor.

On a recent visit a sampling menu of classic Batali dishes was presented. First up was Galloni, featuring 30-month aged prosciutto from Italy with Gnocco Frito. The sliced-thin meat was outstanding with a smoothness you normally wouldn’t associate with it. Another starter was Carne Cruda alla Piemontese with chopped beef tenderloin, capers, Dijon, shallots, chives, a sprinkling of Capezzana olive oil and honsumeiji mushroom.

I have sampled octopus a few times and have found it usually rubbery and hard to chew. At Carnevino, I forgot about all of that as I ate the morsels braised for four hours in wine and then combined with pickled radishes, Fresno chilis, limoncello vinaigrette, and salsa verde. The flavors mesh flawlessly as the slight heat of the chilis balance the hint of citrus from the limoncello. I would come back here just for this dish.

Another Batali classic is Beef Cheek Raviolis with braised meat, butter sauce, parmigiano and Aceto Manodori. The filling reminded me of a very-finely pureed pot roast.

Being in the west all of my life I wasn’t ever exposed to Fiddle Heads until a dish with artichokes and cherry tomatoes was presented to the table. These fronds from a young fern are swirled into a small circle and have a delicate taste.

An exciting new version of mashed potatoes go very well with steak. Whipped into a silky almost-liquid state and appropriately named Mascarpone and Guanciale Mashed Potatoes, they are prepared with a poached super egg.

Dessert topped off the experience in fine fashion with Panna Cotta, a dish that can be made in several different ways. Some are more gelatin-like in texture, but the ultimate is to find one that is silky to the taste buds. Carnevino’s version is just that, a mound of vanilla satin that is topped with fresh berries. Hard to beat! Chocolate Peanut Butter torte is another excellent choice.

Since the second half of the name of the restaurant represents fine wine, any connoisseur will not be disappointed. A full three pages of vintages are available with over 5,500 bottles and 30 wines by the glass to ponder. Spain, France, Italy, and other countries of the world are well represented. Overwhelmed? Just ask one of the knowledgeable wine staff for a recommendation. The farm-to-table concept continues with mixed libations with fresh ingredients. The bartenders add a creative concoction for each season. From the regular fare is Mandorio with Temple 4-year rye, orange oolong tea, Lazzaroni Amaretto, lemon juice, and candied orange zest.    

With cuisine available like this, lines will surely form early at their booth at the classic. Don’t miss it!



Palazzo Hotel

3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas


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