The invitation read simply Chef Scott Conant welcomes Marc Vetri to Las Vegas with a preview of Vetri Cucina hosted by Masso Osteria. One thing about chefs, is they tend to know a lot of chefs. And when a chef like Scott Conant opens his restaurant and kitchen to a friend – in this case, Chef Marc Vetri, whose Vetri Cucina is opening at Palms Casino Resort on November 19th – I like to think that the food being proffered is gonna be notable; and I’m pleased to report that because it was, I left with a smile on my face and a delicious meal in my belly.
Going in with the “how” taken care of, I was only left with the “what;” and I decided to bring my stepsister Jess, to help me make my way through the menu. We started with a trio of Stuzzichini* comprised of Foie Gras Pastrami, an Herb Tart, and some House-cured Salumi; and while I’m not one for Foie Gras, the Pastrami was fantastic!
As our Antipasti I ordered the Sweet Onion Crepe with White Truffle Fonduta, while Jess ordered the Squid and Artichoke Gallette with Lemon. I didn’t try hers (though she said it was great). Meanwhile, I loved the crepe so much that I neglected to offer her a bite.
I was absolutely blown-away by the Cosoncelli alla Bergamasca** – a Meat-Filled Ravioli with Amaretti Cookies, Raisins, Sage, and Pancetta; each savory morsel a delight. Jess tried her luck with the Wild Boar Ragu with Chestnut Fettuccine, and was all smiles with the nutty, meaty dish.
Jess’ Halibut with Assorted Legumes and Bean Crema was lovely. Nothing too fancy. Didn’t have to be. That said, my Stuffed Guinea Hen Breast with Mushrooms was nothing short of fantastic! The skin was crispy, the meat was tender and succulent, and the flavors were phenomenal. I’m not exactly sure what they were, but they were marvelous.
Dessert was light: A pair of polenta-based confections. A Chocolate Polenta Souffle with Vanilla Gelato for me, and the Polenta Budino with Gianduja Mousse and Candied Hazelnuts for Jess. The souffle was light and tasty, the budino was rich, and I had a blast over-pronouncing “Gianduja” out loud, à la Alex Trebek.
Later, as we sipped our espresso, I tried to imagine enjoying the meal we’d just consumed, in the 56th floor aerie Vetri Cucina will occupy at Palms, with its sweeping panoramas of the Las Vegas Strip to the East, and the Red Rock Mountains to the West; and you know what? Not only was it fairly easy to envision, I realized that if the food was this good on the ground floor, it’s gonna be sensational on the 56th. Talk about an elevated epicurean experience!***
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[Editor’s Notes: * Finger foods // ** Bergamo is a province in Italy’s Lombardy region, and (not coincidentally) is where Chef Vetri received his formative professional kitchen training // *** Vetri Cucina will be located in the space formerly occupied by Chef Andre Rochat’s Alize]