I’m going to start this review with some qualifying information.
As you might infer from the name, Bertolucci Brazilian Steakhouse is indeed a Brazilian steakhouse, specializing in the rodizio style of cooking, in which various cuts and types of meats are grilled and brought to the table on skewers, to be sliced off and served to each person until that person cries “uncle.”
Then again, there are a number of things it’s not.
It’s not one of those big-budget chain operations where the servers wear gaucho attire and there are so many of them that you get a little flipover sign to signify when you’re ready to quit or if you want to keep going.
It’s also not one of the Little Brazil or Braziltown (neither of which we have in Las Vegas) places filled with rows of long tables and staffed by Brazilian dancers/martial artists who spin and whirl with the skill and stamina of Olympic athletes.
It is, however, possessed of a number of pluses as well as minuses, No. 1 of the former being that it is so mom-and-pop — and so, at least on the evening of our visit, decidedly not busy — that customers get plenty of personal attention. There was just one gaucho guy, a personable young man in khakis and an oxford whose knife, truth be told, appeared to be somewhat on the dull side, which meant he struggled at times (but with a great deal of charm) to get the meats from his skewer onto our plates. Our waiter, also, was very personable, walking us through the hot and salad bars, refilling beverages, etc.
Another plus is that, because this isn’t a high-volume, move-’em-out operation, our waiter asked us how we liked our meats cooked, instead of leaving us with whatever was left on the skewer — the other side of that coin being that the pork ribs, which couldn’t really be cooked to order, had been held too long and were so dried out as to be rock-solid (and no, that’s not a good thing). As this was the first meat we were served, it wasn’t a great way to start.
Things improved pretty quickly after that, though. Chicken wrapped in bacon was slightly on the dry side, although roast chicken was lovely, moist and crisp-skinned. Pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon was both juicy and flavorful, as was the marinated flank steak. Sirloin and filet mignon were perfect and roast lamb a little on the rare side (even for us) but quite tasty nonetheless.
Another plus is that Bertolucci offers an extensive salad bar and an even more extensive hot bar, the latter serving crispy-crusted fried bananas, fried cheese balls, fried polenta, white rice and a number of stewlike dishes, including Feijoada, the Brazilian national dish of black beans and meats, and all of them were hot, fresh and good. The salad bar was quite nice as well, with lettuce and stuff to eat with it plus mixed salads including a nice potato salad and one with fresh vegetables and cubes of cheese.
And really good flan for dessert.
The atmosphere is quite nice, quiet and with a sweeping view of the valley lights, with crisp linens, a tiled floor, soft lighting and reasonably soft Brazilian music.
I was tipped to Bertolucci by a reader who called and simply raved about it. One thing he didn’t mention is that dinner is $29.99, which makes it about half the price of the chain places that are as big on your budget as they are on their decorators’.
Mom-and-pops tend to involve trade-offs, on both sides of the ledger. And so, it seems, it is with mom-and-pop Brazilian steakhouses.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. E-mail Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com, or call 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.