Bistro 57 at Aliante Offering Fine Dining at Casual Prices
Named in honor of the 57th Wing of the US Air Force stationed at Nellis Air Force base, this classy bistro offers something for everyone, from classic Italian favorites to fish and chips to New York steak to a gourmet prime burger. Its location just off of the casino provides a subdued respite, with elegant plush velvet booths, white brick pillars, a dark wood ceiling and a gold-tinted glass enclosed wine cellar.
During my visit I was wowed by the brushetta, served traditional style with organic heirloom tomato; caprese salad comprised of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, tomato and balsamic; and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake made from scratch daily in the kitchen by one of the kitchen staff. Also, be sure to look out for the nightly and monthly specials, of which I enjoyed the chicken scaloppini with a lemon artichoke sauce and a filet mignon stuffed with bacon, spinach and provolone topped with a marsala mushroom sauce. Like all of Aliante’s restaurants, fresh produce is sourced from Cowboy Farms, located and grown a few miles away, and herbs grown onsite are picked by each restaurant’s chefs for use in their recipes.
Room Chef Francesco De Furia hails from Tuscany and Napoli and has been overseeing the kitchen since May of 2014. Chef has quite an extensive background, having owned his own restaurant and catering company in Los Angeles, Angolo DiVino and De Furia Catering, and has worked at Robert De Niro’s Ago in L.A. and at Valentino at The Venetian when it first opened.
Both Chef De Furia and Room Manager Danny Durazo are very visible in the restaurant, and make it a point to check in on guests’ satisfaction, which is undoubtedly one of the main reasons that 70% of the bistro’s guests are repeat customers, some of whom come more than once a week. Other enticements are a very reasonable price point, a bargain, especially considering the quality and ambience. Most appetizers are around $5-$7, pasta dishes are all at $13, pizzas $12-$14, entrees mainly between $10 and $18 and a varied and reasonably priced wine selection offers wine by the glass, bottle or 2 oz tasting with prices starting at only $3. Add to that a daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m. in the bar with a special discounted menu and Wed. and Thu. all pizzas and pasta dishes are ½ off.
Also worth mentioning is the resort’s commitment to offering great jazz concerts, one of the few in the Valley to do so. Coming up are the Eli Young Band on April 24, Brian Simpson on April 30, Rick Braun on May 16, Patrick Lamb on May 28 and Thompson Square on May 30. The concerts are held in its state-of-the-art Access Showroom and also poolside under the stars during the warmer months.
Sushi Making 101 at Sushi Roku-Chef Haruhiko Takeshita Instructs in the Art of Sushi Rolling
I had the pleasure recently to enjoy items on the Sushi Roku spring menu paired with sake during a media reception hosted by Head Sushi Chef Haruhiko Takeshita. We were treated to the restaurant’s top seller, yellowtail sashimi with diced jalapeno; popcorn shrimp tempura with miso glaze; beef rib eye wrapped asparagus; baked crab & shima roll; rib eye served on a sizzling hot rock with soy miso sauce; mochi ice cream; and a brand new creation unique to Sushi Roku-Nori Senbei-crispy fried nori and rice paper that reminded me of a Japanese version of a potato chip. Three sakes from Sushi Roku’s extensive menu were poured, each representing a different style of sake: Nihon Sakari Junmai, Okunomatsu Tokubetsu Junmai and Sawanoi Junmai Ginjo.
The highlight of the event was the opportunity to be instructed by Chef Takeshita on the history of sushi and the art of sushi rolling and to be able to experience making a sushi roll firsthand.
The rice is the most important element, and Chef uses short grain Japanese premium rice, which he washes three to four times till water runs clear, and then soaks in water for 10-15 minutes before cooking in a rice cooker. When done, sushi vinegar is mixed into the rice. After mixing, the rice is covered and left to settle for 30 minutes.
Essential tools are makisu bamboo rolling mat, nori seaweed sheet, cutting board, sharp knife and water for wetting your hands and knife so the rice doesn’t stick. Steps are to place a nori sheet with its rough side up; wet hands, take a softball size of sushi rice and spread on the sheet evenly; flip over and add ingredients; lift nori closest to you and tuck it into the other side; tighten with makisu; wet both sides of knife, cut into 6 pieces and plate.
While Chef didn’t offer me a job, he did say I did well. I certainly enjoyed the fruits or in this case fish of my labor, but won’t be quitting my day job any time soon.