Monday, September 20, 2010

Otto - Las Vegas

Otto in Las Vegas - in the St. Mark's Square at the Palazzo
I know Mario Batali supposedly doesn't like food bloggers, but he'd better not have anything bad to say about me. I've flogged both Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza on here recently, and I've even planned a special trip to NYC in November to check out his newest project - the Italian food emporium Eataly, near Madison Square Park. Now, I'm here to tell you about my new favorite restaurant in Vegas - Otto, at the Venetian. It used to be called "Enoteca San Marco" and I don't think much besides the name has changed, but it was undoubtedly a smart move to capitalize on the association with Otto in New York.
Prosciutto di Parma and Salumi at Otto in Vegas
It's pretty easy to like Mario's restaurants, truth be told, especially when he keeps things simple - like this paper thin Prosciutto di Parma and house-made salumi. We paired this with three selections off of the "vegetable" section of the menu - a corn and tomato salad, a radish salad with anchovy aioli, and an assortment of olives. The corn and tomato salad and olives were very good, but the radish salad was especially nice - with sweet, mild radishes tossed with a rich anchovy aioli dressing.
Radishes, corn salad and olives at Otto in Vegas
We added an order of cauliflower fritti and some "gnocco fritto" (fried pizza dough) when our server recommended wrapping the prosciutto around the dough while it was still hot from the fryer. I can't say she was wrong about that, but the cauliflower stole the show for me, it was nutty and rich, perfect with a squirt of lemon juice.
Cauliflower and Gnoccho Fritti at Otto
The menu is designed for grazing and sharing, with sections divided by subject - meats, vegetables, fritti, insalate, pastas, pizzas, and a selection of contorni, or main dishes. The servings are generous and reasonably priced, especially if you choose two or three items for the table.
Otto in Vegas
We sat at the bar - watching them make the salads, cheese plates and espresso. We like sitting at a table well enough, but if there's a marble bar with something going on behind it, that's usually where you'll find us.
Otto in Vegas - Palazzo
After our Fritti, Carne and Verdure - we moved on to the Insalate - a Summer Vegetable Panzanella. The olive oil-fried croutons, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, onions and red onion vinaigrette made for a refreshing but substantial summery dish - something I'll definitely copy at home. We also shared an order of Spaghetti Carbonara - the classic Roman dish of spaghetti tossed with egg, guanciale and pepper. It didn't photograph very well, but it was a textbook version - with al dente pasta and lots of pepper. We didn't try the pizza but we saw some go by, and they looked like my favorite kind - thin, blistered and saucy.
Summer Vegetable Panzanella at Otto in Vegas
The cheese course wasn't a whole lot to look at and the selections were a bit basic, but the portions were very generous, and the truffle honey, amarena cherries and mostarda were nice accompaniments.
Cheese course at Otto
Having watched them prepare them all evening on this huge, beautiful machine - I had to have an espresso after the meal. It was perfect - rich and deep with a lovely crema.
Otto in Vegas
Perfect Espresso at Otto in Vegas
The gelato was rich, if a little soft. I chose dark chocolate malt and pistachio. They also offer a little plate of Italian cookies, which I would have ordered if I hadn't been so full.
Gelato at Otto
I know Vegas has a lot of dining options these days, but I don't know of many where you can have a meal as affordable as this one, with this combination of simple, high quality ingredients and perfect Italian techniques. If I'm missing one, let me know. (Also, if anyone knows where I can buy some of these gelato coupes, will you clue me in please? Thanks!)

Otto
In the Venetian shops - St. Mark's Square
3355 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas NV 80109
(702) 677-3390
reservations available on Open Table (which is a little bit rare for Vegas.)

8 comments:

  1. We have eaten a few times at Enoteca and liked it but recently we ate during two trips at B&B and it was outstanding. Both time we had their regional tasting menus which are very authentic and excellent overviews of highlights from one certain region in Italy. It reminded us on Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza - both are nice places but Osteria Mozza is the place to go for the outstanding food and service

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  2. Hey Honkman - it's funny that you mention that, because we actually ate at B&B about a year ago, and were a little disappointed. We also had some sort of pasta tasting, and it was ok, but the service was pretty lax and we just weren't that excited about the food - maybe it was an off night. I also wasn't feeling my best and didn't get any good photos of the food since it was so dark, so I never wrote it up. I would consider trying it again, but we were so happy with Otto we'll probably just go back there again and do a higher priced meal somewhere else. I'd like to check out some of the new stuff in the City Center - we didn't make it over there this time.

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  3. I was so excited to see you mention Otto Las Vegas in one of your earlier posts, because my husband and I have been debating whether or not to take a trip there. We know we may be leaving SD in the next year, so we've been talking about all the things we won't be able to do should be relocate...like drive to Vegas. But we're not really "Vegas"-type folks, ya know? However, considering I had my birthday dinner this year at Otto NYC, when I saw your post, I immediately told him, and he replied "we're there."

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  4. That looks fun. Our experiences in Vegas have been... poor. Mesa Grill. Daniel. Meh.

    But if Batali is serving good food in Vegas, perhaps we should try it. And everything in this post looks tasty.

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  5. Looks great! Makes me hungry just looking at it.

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  6. We went and sat at the bar there before it was called Otto. One of my favorite Vegas meals ever! The bartender was very fun to talk to and brought us all sorts of things to try.

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  7. I don't know if it's changed much, but it looks like the menu is almost identical to Otto in NY, which was one of my favorite restaurants. I love those condiments they serve with the cheese.

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  8. i literally just salivated sitting here reading this. and it's 8:40 in the morning.
    there's something wrong with me.

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