Spiedini – Las Vegas, Nevada

Spiedini is a magnificent sensory feast that begins when your olfactory senses first catch a whiff of the intoxicating emanations wafting from the kitchen as you drop your car off at the valet parking station. It continues as you step into the marble tiled floors of an ultra modern, visually appealing restaurant extravagance. Your tactile senses are aroused as you dip the fabulous focaccia bread into a marvelous mixture of virgin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Finally, your taste buds culminate the exhilarating experience as you savor each and every bite of a very memorable Italian culinary event.

Just like the now defunct Las Vegas legend, the Venetian restaurant, Spiedini exemplifies the huge delta in quality between Italian restaurants in large metropolitan cities and those in my beloved New Mexico where the dearth in truly outstanding Italian establishments is lamentable. The brainchild of Viennese born Gustav Mauler, one of only 54 certified master chefs in the United States, Spiedini may be the very best Italian restaurant we’ve experienced west of the Mississippi. Attention to detail is one of the reasons.

While the oily and unappealing travesty other restaurants call antipasto is enough to make any pasta proponent anti antipasto, once you experience antipasto at Spiedini, any other version just won’t do. A large plate adorned with some of the most delicious cured meats (mortadella, salami, prosciutto, ham), cheeses (mozzarella, cheddar) and grilled vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, lettuce) ever to grace an antipasto is drizzled with a delicious dressing that brings out the best in each. It’s the type of antipasto that you might dream about…and it might not even be the best appetizer on the menu.

That distinction might to go the clams and spicy Italian sausage which features pearlescent clams, a spicy homemade sausage, garlic, herbs, fresh tomatoes and a ciabatta crostini in an obscenely rich and savory broth with discernibly contrasting and complementary flavors. All at once it’s slightly briny and saucy with a hauntingly faint taste of licorice (from the fennel rich sausage). The lightly toasted crostini is perfect for dredging up the broth so you don’t miss a drop.

Spiedini also prepares the best seared beef carpaccio I’ve ever had outside a Vietnamese restaurant. Calista Flockhart thin, each beef slice is crusted with pepper, crispy capers and a mustard aioli. Baby greens and parmesan crown this appetizer.

Risotto became a part of pop culture when a Seinfeld episode lampooned the post-coital ritual of lighting up a cigarette–only in this case George Costanza’s girlfriend lit up contentedly after a satisfying meal of risotto. The noisy ardor with which she consumed the risotto was something the ego-fragile George couldn’t elicit from her in the bedroom.

The risotto at Spiedini might elicit such a passion, especially if it’s the honey roasted duck risotto entree starring (the word “featuring” just didn’t cut it) amborio rice, duck breasts, caramelized sweet onions, gorgonzola, truffle oil and porto glaze. The rich melding of ingredients made it easily the very best, most rich and delicious risotto dish we’ve ever had.

Spiedini is an Italian word meaning skewered meats and this restaurant lends tremendous credit to the word. Spiedini specializes in meat and poultry prepared on the open kitchen’s spiedo (kitchen spit). The restaurant is spacious with high ceilings from which hang colorful, hand-blown lamps. An outdoor patio is shaded by a European-style canopy. Spiedini’s portions are formidable, so unlike the miniscule stacked portions offered at other fine restaurants.

One of the restaurant’s specialties, the Spiedini combination features a peppercorn encrusted pork loin coupled with a herb seasoned chicken and served with Tuscan peperonata (roasted peppers) and garlic mashed potatoes, all of which were wonderful.

There’s a reason Chef Mauler is a certified master chef and we’ve now experienced that reason. This is a fantastic restaurant!

JW Marriot
221 North Rampart
Las Vegas, NV
Web Site

LATEST VISIT: 25 March 2006
COST: $$$$
BEST BET: Spiedini Combination, Honey Roasted Duck Risotto, Antipasto

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