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Las Vegas Food Tour – Otto

For our monumental first year anniversary, my husband Michael and I went to Las Vegas.  We have always enjoyed Vegas, and go to enjoy gourmet food and world-class entertainment because neither of us do any real gambling.  I’m beginning to view an epicurean meal the same as I view a performance or a show.  It’s a shared experience to be savored, enjoyed and will often leave your life enriched.  I don’t think I have ever eaten at so many amazing restaurants in a three and a half day period as we did this trip: seven amazing meals at five different restaurants to be specific.

Every meal was fantastic.  However, chronicling them all in tasty detail could very well prove to be too much of a good thing.  We have eaten at Mesa Grill, Spago and Bouchon before.  I have chosen to highlight our first experience at Mario Batali’s Otto in the Venetian.

We actually ate at Otto twice during our stay – it was THAT good.  Plus it was in our hotel, which made it very convenient.  Our first dinner was before going to see Phantom, so we decided to sit in the back more formal seating verses the front area that looks out onto St. Mark’s Square.

Our waiter was really great, professional and knowledgeable with the perfect amount of presence.  You could tell he loved what he did and was indeed an expert steward, versus our host we had during our second visit.  It was just a job to him and the service was somewhat different.

Michael and I are huge fans of Fried Squash Blossoms and when they are in season, nothing is better.   They are filled with creamy ricotta like cheese and then deep-fried.  It’s an Italian treat not to be missed, if you see Squash Blossoms on a menu, order them!

The Octopus, Celery and Potato Salad was a plate of pure genius.  We had this salad both times we ate at Otto.  Served with peppery baby Arugula and lightly dressed, this salad packed a punch with the addition of red pepper flakes.  The octopus was cooked to perfection and not the least bit rubbery.  Long diagonal slices of celery and cold steamed mini new potatoes added crunch and starch.  This is one of those dishes where you simply eat and nod your head at your partner in pure delight because no words are needed.

For my entrée I had Penne alla Puttanesca with Olives, Anchovies and Tomato.  Mr. Batali sure does like his spice, again with the red pepper flakes.  While Puttanesca is not traditionally spicy like it’s fiery cousin Arrabiata (meaning angry), mine certainly had some heat.  The strong and sharp tang was a welcomed change up from the flavor profiles I normally choose.

My pasta entrée during our second dinner at Otto was my top meal of the trip – Pasta Carbonara with Guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon), Egg and Cheese.  My two favorite pasta dishes are Carbonara and Bolognese.  I have experience making both of them and with a fair amount of skill, I must admit.  Batali’s Carbonara was refined pasta excellence on a plate.  I was rather pleased with myself after giving Michael a bite, he said my Carbonara was on par with Batali’s.  Perhaps it was a husband’s love, or perhaps it was his cocktail, I really didn’t care.

My guess is that no egg white was used in the sauce but only the yolk.  There was no textural remnant that one usually sees in Carbonara from the egg.  This sauce was creamy and almost completely absorbed into the paste, giving it a very luscious flavor and buttery quality.  For me, this was pure heaven.

Finally, the sweets at Otto are worth considering.  Specializing in fine Italian Gelati, you can’t get any closer to the real deal outside Italy!  Our first night we shared a double scoop cup of Salted Caramel and Dark Chocolate Malt.  The pairing blended perfectly.  During second dinner, our waiter suggested getting the dessert called Dark Chocolate with Warm Chocolate Cake, Whipped Salted Caramel, Toasted Vanilla Meringue and Dark Chocolate Malt Gelato.  You seriously can’t imagine how mind blowing this was.  If you read the description over and over perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to experience a whisper of a taste.

Bon Appétit!

Friday, June 22

LUNCH @ Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill                                                                        Caesars

Starters:             Blue Corn Pancake with BBQ Duck

Cremini Mushroom Quesadilla

Entrée:             Sixteen Spice Chicken Salad

Dessert:             Sticky Toffee Pudding w/ Salted Cajeta and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

DINNER @ Wolfgang Puck’s Spago                                                                        Caesars

Salad:                        BLT Salad Wedges

Entrée:            Caserecci Pasta a la Bolognaise


Saturday, June 23

BREAKFAST @ Thomas Keller’s Bouchon                                                            Venetian

Tropical Fruit Salad

Sourdough Waffle with Fresh Strawberries and Maple Syrup

DINNER @ Mario Batali’s Otto                                                                        Venetian

Starter:             Fried Squash Blossoms

Salad:                        Octopus, Celery, Potato

Entrée:             Penne alla Puttanesca – Olives, Anchovies and Tomato

Dessert:            Salted Caramel & Chocolate Malt Gelati

Sunday, June 24

LUNCH @ Hubert Keller’s Fleur                                                                        Mandalay Bay

Starter:             Tuna Taco – Serrano Peppers, Cilantro, Avocado Cream

Entrée:            Mediterranean Sandwich – Prosciutto, Piquillo Peppers, Burrata (cheese), Pesto, Country Olive Bread


DINNER @ Mario Batali’s Otto                                                                        Venetian

Salad:                        Octopus, Celery, Potato

Entrée:            Pasta Carbonara – Guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon), Egg, Cheese

Dessert:             Dark Chocolate – Warm Chocolate Cake, Whipped Salted Caramel, Toasted Vanilla Meringue and Dark Chocolate Malt Gelato

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