photo by Dick Palcic

Still Time to Experience Grimaldi’s Winter Menu 

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria has established itself as a highly respected and award-winning representative of New York style pizza, with authenticity in the form of coal-fired, brick ovens and décor saluting and depicting the Big Apple. During my recent visit to the Henderson location at Eastern and Richmar I learned an interesting aspect of the eatery’s attention to detail. Manager Jason Gardner and server Chelsea Alafro informed that a specialized water filter is used in making the dough to create the same mineral content as the water coming out of the taps in New York. Chelsea, who has been at the location for two years, added, “We take our food seriously and I love the family atmosphere here.” The restaurant certainly does specialize in pizza, offering fresh ingredients, handmade mozzarella cheese and dough and the capability for you to customize your pie with several options of sauces and nearly every topping you could desire on a pizza.

One of the reasons I was there was to experience the winter menu (Grimaldi’s adds special pizzas, salads, desserts and beverages each season). Available till the end of February, the special items include Rosemary Potato Pizza, a classic white with garlic pizza topped with thinly-sliced rosemary potatoes and sprinkled with diced pancetta; Spinach Pecan Salad made with fresh spinach topped with house-made candied pecans, dried cherries, red onions and crumbled goat cheese, tossed in Grimaldi’s house dressing; and two decadent cheesecake offerings: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Butterscotch Toffee, both of which are made from scratch and are well worth saving room for. Complementing the seasonal fare are the Cherry Pie “Three Vineyards” Pinot Noir, a 100% Pinot Noir varietal selected from three California regions: Monterrey, Sonoma and Santa Barbara; Blood Orange flavored Lemonade, Iced Tea or Italian Soda; the Italian “75” cocktail with Square One Bergamot Vodka, blood orange puree and lemon juice topped with La Marca Prosecco; and the “Mocha” Martini made with Chopin Vodka, Dorda Chocolate Liqueur, Galliano Ristretto and half & half, served in an Oreo cookie rimmed glass.

Grimaldi’s has five Southern Nevada locations: one in Henderson at Eastern and Richmar, two on the Vegas Strip at The Palazzo and in the Fashion Show Mall, on South Rainbow near Warm Springs and on Rampart in the Boca Fashion Village.

photos by Joe Urcioli

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer—the Name Says It All—Plus Crazy Shakes 

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer has opened at The Venetian in the casino adjacent to the poker room and sports book. It seems this is the designated burger spot, as it is in the same location B&B Burger and Beer and the short-lived Rattlecan was situated in before that.      

As you walk in you’ll instantly be drawn to the oodles of cool neon, and if you’re as old as me you’ll be reminded of your youth, with retro neon boomboxes, cassette tapes and old-style cameras. There are also subway tile walls (a nod to its NYC roots), a custom shake (more on that later) mosaic floor inlay, a brick barrel cove ceiling, a deejay booth and an outdoor patio area sporting a gorgeous panoramic 180 degree view of the Vegas Strip on one side and The Venetian’s Campanile Tower on the other.

The new restaurant is in very good hands. It’s helmed by Chef Joe Isidori, who earned a Michelin star at DJT at Trump International in 2009. He teams up with Chris Barish, a nightlife veteran who has some excellent experience, having brought the New York-based club Light to Bellagio, and helped bring in Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace and Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas. 

No surprise that the menu is highlighted by craft burgers, most of which are made with Prime composed of 80% brisket and 20% chuck. Nine choices include The Mexico City with Prime burger, pepperjack cheese, pickled jalapenos, chipotle mayo and crispy onion ring; the Greg Norman with wagyu beef, house buttermilk-dill, blue cheese and arugula; and top-selling All-American Burger with Prime burger, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and special sauce. If you like your burger and salad in one bite, check out the Black Tap Burger Salad with Prime burger, bacon, cucumber, pickles, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Vegans aren’t left out with The Vegan Burger with black bean patty, pickled onions, vegan mayo and salsa verde; and the Vegan Burger & Quinoa Bowl with black bean patty, kale, avocado, cilantro, salsa verde and lemon dressing. Rounding out the menu are spicy Korean BBQ wings; snacks of fried mozzarella and crispy Brussels sprouts; and fries and onion rings that come with choice of nine house sauces. 

The restaurant lives up to its name with a quality beer selection, with 16 no-crap-on tap beers and 12 more in cans such as Dogfish Head Flesh & Blood IPA, Ballast Point Watermelon Dorado, Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin and Victory Golden Monkey. The lone local brew is Big Dog’s Las Vegas Craft Lager, but I was told it’s likely more will be brought on soon.

Shakes are taken quite seriously here, so much so that the restaurant has devoted a portion of its space in the center and heart of the restaurant to the CrazyShakeBar (the company’s first) made of glass candy display cases, which contains all the fixings for creating some of the wildest shakes imaginable and where you can view the shake master in action. The dessert menu consists entirely of the aforementioned shakes. Called Crazy Shakes, eight varieties include concoctions such as the Bam Bam Fruity Pebbles featuring a Fruity Pebbles rim, strawberry pop tart, nerds rope and a Rice Krispies treat; Sweet N’ Salty, a peanut butter shake with chocolate frosted rim with chocolate gems, chocolate covered pretzel rods topped with peanut butter cups and a Sugar Daddy; and The Cake Shake—cake batter shake with vanilla frosted rim with rainbow sprinkles topped with a funfetti cake slice. You can also design your own shake and choose from nine flavors such as oreo cookies & cream, caramel, Nutella and coffee. If you so desire, you can also have alcohol added to make your shake boozy.

This new location marks the chain’s first expansion outside NYC in the US, but there is also one in Geneva, Switzerland and two in Dubai. Several more openings are planned in the Middle East and the first California location will open at Disneyland in the Downtown Disney District by the end of 2018.

For more info or to view the entire menu go to www.venetian.com/restaurants/black-tap.html