On the surface, it might seem an unlikely pairing. At Tuesday afternoon’s media tasting of some of the food that will be available when the Las Vegas Aviators make their debut at the Las Vegas Ballpark next week, the specialties of Giada De Laurentiis were side-by-side with those from ballpark concessionaire Professional Sports Catering.
In other minor-league ballparks, you’re unlikely to see foods representing an esteemed celebrity-level chef on the same table with concession fare. Then again, ballpark-serving celebrity chefs are about as rare as dollar beers at this new venue in Downtown Summerlin. And the concession food? Not exactly stale bags of Cracker Jack.
Culinary ace De Laurentiis was represented by her almost fluffy orzo meatballs, super-delicate lemon ricotta cookies and frosty Frose frozen-rose blend, each cup topped with a giant basil leaf. From PCS came Crunch Time Nachos, prepared with marinated steak, pico de gallo, guacamole, warm nacho cheese sauce, jalapenos and sour cream; Red Rock Tots, crispy little sweet potato nuggets; and A-Knot Bavarian Pretzels, A-shaped soft pretzels with cheese for dipping.
And because it wouldn’t be a ballpark without hot dogs, Sparrow + Wolf chef Brian Howard was offering samples of his Flydogs, and said The Heater and the Chicago Smokehouse seemed to be the fan favorites. The former packed about as much heat as a ball off the bat of the New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman. This is not a dog for the faint of heart, or palate, the griddled hot link topped with Calabrian chili relish and spicy mustard only slightly tamed by the drizzle of creamy Kewpie mayonnaise from Japan and a soft potato bun. The Chicago Smokehouse is Howard’s version of the Chicago dog, a cheddar brat topped with the characteristically neon-green pickle relish, sport peppers and tomatoes, on a poppy-seed bun.
Other Flydogs were The Hercules, a bacon-wrapped dog with a deeply flavored dry-aged-beef chili and sweet onion jam that Howard said is an homage to the Coneys of his hometown of Detroit, and the Jetsetter, a banh-mi-style wagyu beef sausage with cilantro and sliced jalapenos on top.
Ballpark symbolism carried over to the table manned by Mimmo Ferraro of Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar and Pizza Forte with a slider form of the meatball subs to be offered at the park. Ferraro’s also offered Insalata Mimmo, a farm-to-dugout mix of heirloom tomatoes, avocado, fresh mozzarella and red onions in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Capriotti’s had its justly famous cheese steak and Thanksgiving-on-a-bun The Bobbie, and Me Gusta Tacos served their barbacoa, shredded chicken and carnitas tacos.
Baseball fans’ thirst also was taken into account, with the notably refreshing Frose and Tenaya Creek Brewery’s Aviator Ale, and the Turbulence and Sunsplash cocktails from Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim.
At The Goodwich’s table, chef/owner Josh Clark was handing out cinnamon-rich apple pie topped with flaky pie crumbs, and mini-helmets of mellow mushroom mac and cheese with fried onions, an example of the make-your-own mac-and-cheese bar at the new ballpark.
Clark said he decided to work in the new venue because of the area’s sports-driven renaissance.
“All of it’s been an incredibly positive thing for Las Vegas,” he said. “We want to be part of that.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, food prices hadn’t been disclosed.