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What's Cooking

photos courtesy Mike Fryer, SUSHISAMBA, and Bryan Kuhl

Steve Young Wins “Best New Chef/Rising Star” at 2017 Silver State Culinary Awards

I was pleased to be asked to be one of the nominators for the 2017 Silver State Culinary Awards, which this year generated a record tally of more than 16,000 online votes. I was also honored to be asked to present the “Best New Chef/Rising Star” winner at the awards ceremony on March 6. My honor turned to delight when I opened the envelope and discovered one of the talented young chefs I had nominated had won, and had the pleasure to read off the name of Steve Young, Chef de Cuisine of Edge Steakhouse at Westgate Las Vegas. When asked to comment on his win Chef Young stated, “Passion for what you do comes from within. Work ethic grows throughout time, and integrity is what defines you!” This award adds to Chef’s collection: in 2016, he was awarded a “Top Chef Medal” at the 2016 Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival.

A week later I dined at Edge and the tasting Chef provided me with included his specialties of Wagyu Tartare with Kaluga Caviar; Bone Marrow Flatbread with smoked shallots and red onion jam; Cauliflower Served Three Ways: fritter, roasted, and cream of cauliflower soup enhanced with pork belly; Sunchoke Ravioli with black truffle; Sweet Pea and Ricotta Agniolotti with parmesan and cream, morels and black truffle; Prime bone-in rib-eye, dry aged NY and domestic Wagyu NY with house-made sauces; and Crème Brulee and 7-Layer Chocolate Cake. 

This delectable and very creative tasting by the 33-year-old culinary phenome was an excellent reminder of why I had nominated him and a testament to why he won this prestigious award. 

SUSHISAMBA Launches Japanese Whisky Experience and Expanded Whisky Menu

After conquering sake for the past 15 years SUSHISAMBA at The Palazzo is now introducing Japanese whisky to its guests in a new and exciting way, through the Japanese Whisky Experience, a seven-course Japanese whiskey pairing. We were treated to the Experience recently by Operations Director Hayes Swope and Executive Chef Joel Versola, who took us through the tasting. Our dinner began with the Wagyu Cocktail infused with A5 Wagyu, maple syrup and salted caramel, a unique drink Hayes created using 100 grams of A5 rendered down and infused with whisky, resulting in a prominent beef flavor. Following courses were Passionfruit Whisky Sour matched with crispy tempura sweet oyster with osetra caviar; Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt Whisky paired with smoked ocean trout roe and wasabi crème; Nikka Yoichi Single Malt paired with robata grilled hamachi kama with agave ponzu sauce; Akashi Single Malt 5-year Sherry Cask matched with whisky-soy marinated robata grilled pork ribs with aji panca barbeque sauce and A5 Wagyu roll with edible soil; Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky paired with braised beef cheeks with red wine-soy whisky reduction; and Japanese Cherry Manhattan Granita matched with dark roasted coffee custard, chocolate hazelnut crumble, sweet cream ice cream and Japanese whisky foam. 

The dinner pairing must be reserved 48-hours in advance so ingredients can be procured and the cost is $250 per person. In addition, one of the pairings is being rotated weekly on the regular menu through April 10.

Of particular note: SUSHISAMBA now has the largest Japanese whisky selection in Las Vegas and one of the largest in the US, with 31 choices currently gracing its whisky list. The impressive collection includes some rare award-winning selections such as the Mars Komagatake 30-yr (currently the only bottle available in Las Vegas) and Nikka Taketsuru 17-yr Pure Malt (a line dedicated to the founder of Nikka).

Also, Hayes is THE man to talk to about sake, as he is a Master Sake Sommelier, one of just over 100 “Sake Professionals” in the entire world.

Mercato della Pescheria —Who Says Dining on the Strip Has to be Expensive? 

Translated from Italian to “the fish market,” Mercato della Pescheria may make you feel like you’ve been transported to a traditional coastal seafood market one would find along the shores of Italy. Located in St. Mark’s Square inside of the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian/Palazzo, the restaurant’s curated décor is designed to put you in the middle of a market, with cured meats hanging from the ceiling, 12 market stations throughout and the aroma of charcoal ovens.

The most popular seats are in the patio, overlooking the open St. Mark’s Square, which offer a view of the stage where a variety of entertainment takes place throughout the day and night. But inside the restaurant offers entertainment of another sort. Not to be missed are several antique items scattered throughout the space, including a 1908 National cash register, a Keeley cast iron stove from the 1700s, an espresso machine, meat slicer, bean grinder, Howe scale and 50’s-era radio. 

Another example of Italian authenticity can be found in the kitchen, which is helmed by Executive Chef Marco Scabin, a native of Venice, who has worked in Italy, Spain, owned his own restaurant in Buenos Ares and worked under Michael Mina at his Bourbon Steak in San Francisco’s Union Square before bringing his talents to the Mercato della Pescheria in Miami. Chef Marco opened the restaurant in Las Vegas as sous chef and was promoted to executive chef in August and everything on the menu is now his creation. 

As soon as we were seated we were warmly greeted by our server Alessio David, who hails from Napoli and worked with Chef Marco in Miami. His first words were, “You are in my home now.” His kind, friendly and professional service sure did make us feel welcomed and cared for.

As for the menu, it is divided into sections of Appetizers, Raw Bar, Salad, Pizza, Pasta, Butcher Shop and Seafood. Many of the items are meant to be served family style and some I recommend for sharing are wood roasted charred Mediterranean octopus enlivened with chickpea puree, fennel, tomato confit and fingerling potatoes; Italian pork/beef meatball slow braised in roasted tomato marinara; and eggplant parmesan with mozzarella and Grana Padano cheese, tomato and basil. Although these were all shareable appetizers, they were fairly large portions and priced at $20 or less. 

The pizzas, cooked in a wood-fire grill, are indeed like ones you would find in Napoli. We asked Chef Marco to make us his favorite one, and he delivered with a margarita simply dressed with San Marzano tomato and mozzarella.

Our absolute favorite dish we sampled was the gnocchi Bolognese: handmade potato gnocchi tossed with roasted shallots and pea tendrils piled on a bed of rich Bolognese and finished with Grana Padano, which at $23 is well worth the price. Lovers of fresh seafood will also like the spaghetti frutti di mare ($34) loaded with manila clams, mussels, calamari and shrimp cooked in a lobster broth.

A unique Spanish-style Josper coal-fired oven, something rarely found in Las Vegas, is utilized to prepare the fine meats including half free range chicken, osso bucco veal, NY strip, bone-in rib eye; and fresh seafood such as Mediterranean sea bass, salmon, yellowtail, scallops and grilled Hawaiian prawns.  

Complementing the authentic Italian dishes are approximately 60 wines mainly from Italy and Napa, 26 of which are sold by the glass or ½ bottle; and a culinary-influenced cocktail program uses fresh ingredients to create libations, such as the Cucumber-Basil Martini made with Bulldog Gin, cucumber, basil & lemon muddled fresh, Caravella Limoncello and cucumber bitters.

The finale of your meal should include the tiramisu, which is presented tableside. When delivered to our table, Alessio poured hot chocolate over the Savoiardi Lady Fingers and Segafredo Espresso, mixed in mascarpone and then finished it by shaving chocolate over the top.

Who says dining on the Strip has to be expensive? The menu here has a range of prices, but most items are $25 or less. Show up from 3-7 and everything on the daily happy hour menu is priced at $6, with choices of meatball slider, crispy gnocchi, pepperoni pizza, bruschetta, wine, beer and spirits. And, since it’s at The Venetian/Palazzo, you won’t have to pay for valet or self parking; and save a bundle by skipping the cost of airfare to Italy and instead taking a short drive to the middle of the Vegas Strip. 

Mercato della Pescheria
@The Venetian/Palazzo

3377 Las Vegas Blvd South 

Las Vegas, NV 89109

www.venetian.com/restaurants/mercato-della-pescheria.html

702-837-0309

Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

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