Small Plates — Portofino and ‘Cast Iron Nation’



Onda Ristorante and Wine Lounge, which opened at The Mirage in 1999, has been re-named Portofino. Named for the picturesque Genovese fishing village on the Italian Riviera, Portofino has an emphasis on coastal cuisine and serves fresh pasta made in-house daily. Here’s a sample of the menu:

Appetizers: Caprese salad, $16; roasted bone marrow, $18; meatballs with fresh squash blossoms and goat cheese, $15; crab cake arancini, $18.

Pastas: Spaghetti Carbonara, $28; lasagna, $28; Burrata Agnolotti with lobster, $36; seared scallop fettucine, $39.

Entrees: Veal Saltimbocca, $38; Portofino Cioppino, $48; veal osso buco, $48; filet mignon, $45; branzino, $38.

Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays. Call 702-791-7354 or visit



¼ pound salt pork or slab bacon, sliced ¼-inch thick

½ cup chopped onion

4 cups water, or half water and half clam juice

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 quart coarsely chopped chowder clams

4 cups diced (½ inch) potatoes

2 dozen small clams in the shell, scrubbed

Milk, half and half or light or heavy cream, as desired

Sliced white bread (optional)

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Oyster crackers

Cook the salt pork in a 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove the pork and discard, reserving the rendered fat in the pot. Add the onion and cook until tender (but don’t let it color), about 5 minutes, stirring a few times. Pour in the water, then add the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Add the chowder clams, reduce the heat to low and slowly simmer, uncovered, until the clams are tender, about 1 hour.

Add the potatoes, increase the heat to medium and simmer until they are tender, about 20 minutes. During the last 10 minutes, add the clams in the shell and cover the pot. Add the milk, if using, right before serving, but give it enough time to warm (a couple of minutes usually works).

If you like, set a slice of bread in the bottom of each large shallow serving bowl, then ladle in the chowder, making sure to get a couple of the shell clams. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with oyster crackers.

Serves 10 to 12.

Recipe from “Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking From Coast to Coast” (Oxmoor House; $24.95)

— Heidi Knapp Rinella


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