Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bartolotta - There's an ocean in Las Vegas (for vegetarians too)

Mushroom ragout tagliatelle
Being vegetarian in the land of steakhouses and poker seems counter-intuitive, but is entirely possible. Funny that I should even be thinking about it, as (clearly) I'm not virtuous enough to be vegetarian, but best-friend-T is doing the vegetarian-on-the-1st-and-15th-of-the-lunar-month thang, so there we were, in Vegas, on the 15th of the 10th month of the lunar calendar.

Frito misto
It just so happens that gaming magnate Steve Wynn famously became vegan in recent years and made sure all restaurants in Wynn had vegetarian and vegan versions. I was desperate to try Bartolotta, so once I found out about the Wynn thing, there was no question that that was where we were going.

I called ahead and were told that the restaurant was full but we could try our luck at the bar. We rocked up and alas the bar was heaving. Just as we were contemplating what to do however, I noticed a table right at the front - not exactly an ideal position, being right next to the mall and all, but T and I are way past romance and vibe. We just wanted a good feed. (I guess that's what happens when you've known each other for more than 15 years and get old and boring together).

Crustacean "ragout"
None of the restaurants seem to publicise the vegan and vegetarian menus - you won't find it on the Wynn website, nor the menu at the front of the restaurant, but when I asked the server, it was not a problem at all. They were also doing a white truffle special, but for an extra $80 for a few shaves, we stuck with the standard offerings.

For fish eaters, there's a cart of fresh fish that gets wheeled to you, and the "catch" is introduced to you one by one. We were told the fish is flown in from the Med daily, and it did indeed look great. However, most of the fishes are designed for sharing between two, so I skipped that too and went for a frito misto and a seafood "ragout". I felt the ragout was a bit oversalted (I found it to be an America-ex-NY/Philly thing) but the pasta was in perfect supple sheets, lapping up the richly-flavoured ocean-y, crustacean-y sauce nicely. If my memory serves, the fritto misto was as good as the one I had in Da Fiore, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Venice (Italy, not California). Lightly battered (but indeed battered, with all the hot, crunchy, fried goodness a thin layer of flour meeting hot oil brings), and utterly fresh and juicy inside.

T's caprese and mushroom pasta were, I thought, less successful. The mozz was a bit dry, though the tomatoes were divine, and the mushroom lacked the heartiness of a sauce, ending up more like a tossed pasta than the slow-cooked sauce the menu seemed to imply. Maybe I misread it.

Chocolate and banana budino
A textbook moelleux-like pudding, with banana gelato. Pretty standard, quite enjoyable, though the menu seemed to imply that there was banana in the pudding. It's not exactly treason, but sometimes I wish menus would manage our expectations better.

If Bartolotta were in Venice, it wouldn't be out of place amongst the likes of Osteria Santa Marina, Da Fiore and Il Ridotto, ie. the city's top 10. (I just realised how funny this would be if Bartolotta were in the Venetian rather than the Wynn). Only I think it should be appreciated even more because it's in the middle of a darn desert. If you're craving seafood in Vegas (I think it's a very Chinese reaction to crave seafood after having won at the tables... or maybe it's universal, ha) then Bartolotta will certainly hit the spot. If you're a vegetarian at Bartolotta, you're sort of a second-class citizen compared to your colleagues who consume marine life, but hey, I'd much rather a second citizen here than first at IHOP.

Wynn Las Vegas
+1 702 248 3463
Dinner daily. Bookings highly recommended, although I didn't make one and managed to get a table for 2 at around 9.30 (we wanted a late dinner anyway).

View e_ting in Las Vegas in a larger map

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