Las Vegas chef Mario Batali still innovating 15 years later

Over the past 15 years, Mario Batali has become an integral part of the Las Vegas food scene, with B&B Ristorante, Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria and Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, as well as the now-closed B&B Burgers & Beer. And he’s not slowing down. In late 2018, he’ll open a Las Vegas incarnation of his international Eataly concept at the new Park MGM resort.

Right now, however, he’s focusing on Carnevino, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary Saturday night with a special dinner called “A Decade of Deliciousness: Mario and Friends Celebrate Carnevino.” And as the name indicates, he’ll be getting a little help in the kitchen, courtesy of James Beard Award winners Paul Kahan, Nancy Silverton and Michael Symon, as well as renowned butcher Dario Cecchini.

Mistakes and discoveries

Over the past decade, Carnevino has drawn national acclaim for its aged beef program. But Batali says that wasn’t what he expected would be the restaurant’s focal point.

“Because of the large table sizes you can get in Las Vegas, I’d always hoped we could do the super-large format steaks,” he explains. “Like a rump steak for eight, or a shoulder blade that’s a 13 or 14-pound steak. And that has met with a resounding failure. Nobody wants to eat anything other than the cut that they recognize as the premium and the best.”

That preference for the best parts of the cow forced Batali to change his approach to cooking rather drastically. His previous restaurants, including B&B, were always known for transforming less popular parts of an animal — including tripe, brains, tails, snouts, ears and feet — into gourmet feasts. Since steak lovers weren’t interested in that kind of magic, he had to innovate in different ways.

“When you’re dealing with (high-end products) and you put it in the 1,000-degree broiler with just salt and a little olive oil, odds are I can train a chimp to do that pretty quickly,” the chef concedes. “But it doesn’t diminish the significance of the shopping and the organization.”

Taking steak to a new level

Those are the areas in which Carnevino’s team has excelled over the past 10 years. To start, they get their meat from a small group of select farms. More importantly, the team travels to each of those farms to personally select cuts immediately after slaughter. Finally, but perhaps most revolutionary, once beef arrives in Las Vegas, it’s dry-aged in a private facility for at least 90 days, which far exceeds the industry standard. Moreover, the team has turned the culinary world on its head by super-aging a few special cuts of beef, sometimes for 200 days or more.

Batali credits the super-aging concept, which has become the restaurant’s signature, to a pair of his employees.

“Zach Allen, our first chef and culinary director, and (current culinary director) Nicole Brisson were always toying around with the super-aged meats,” the celebrity chef explains. “They’d always hide something from me and just let it sit back there, then taste it.”

To his surprise, the public embraced the complex flavors that resulted from those experiments, setting Carnevino apart from the crowd in a city packed with steakhouses.

Next up

Batali’s next Las Vegas project, Eataly, will once again try to bring the city something new with an outdoor space where they can eat and shop.

Dining will be located in a piazza similar to the one in Los Angeles’ Eataly, with “an interesting take on Neapolitan street food.”

“The piazza will have five or six different and changing purveyors,” he explains. “They’re all next to each other. They’re all run by us.”

A signature dish will be something called a panigacci. The chef explains it as “unleavened dough cooked on top of what looks like a terra cotta roof tile.”

“You cook by residual heat,” he continues. “You heat up the roof tile and you roll it through this oven. Then you take them out and put the batter on top, and it cooks on top of that. Then you pull it off while it’s still warm and make a panini kind of thing out of it. So it’s kind of a crisp crepe meets a tortilla. But it’s not a taco and it’s not a crepe.”

The chef insists, however, that the shopping component of Eataly will be at least as important as the dining.

“Everywhere that we drop it — whether it’s New York City or Boston or Chicago or Sao Paolo or Los Angeles — all of a sudden, (Eataly) revolutionizes the way the home cook cooks. Because they realize they are no longer living through the UPS and FedEx world. They can get these amazing ingredients and take them home and cook them.”

It’s all part of a philosophy Batali has embraced since he first came to Las Vegas.

“If we pay attention to the locals as our core business … then we have what’s a core business plan,” he remembers telling skeptics. “And we’ve seen that happen.”

If you go

“A Decade of Deliciousness: Mario and Friends Celebrate Carnevino” will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Palazzo. Batali, Paul Kahan, Nancy Silverton, Michael Symon and butcher Dario Cecchini will create a five-course meal, priced at $380 including wine pairing, tax and gratuity. What’s on the menu? Batali was kind enough to tell us what each chef has planned for the evening.

Kahan, he says, will prepare a dish the chef compared to an olive-oil poached pork. “It’s almost like a tonnato kind of thing,” he says. “And it will have albacore and preserved peaches and puntarelle.”

Batali plans a beef cheek ravioli with white truffles.

Symon, who is preparing to open a barbecue restaurant at the Palms, plans to serve smoked brisket with sauerkraut broth.

From Cecchini, Batali promises, “a brasato di modelo, which is a middle shank stuffed with bone marrow, served with shallots that are braised in vin santo (dessert wine).”

Finally, the dessert will come from Silverton: pistachio semifreddo.

Batali says the company will be as good as the food.

“It’ll be all of us there at all times. Dario Cecchini is a party waiting to happen. And unbeknownst to (many), so am I, and so is Symon, and so is Khan, and so is Nancy.”

To reserve a seat, go to carnevino.com.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Local
Meet the woman behind the Las Vegas Bowl
Melissa Meacham-Grossman is the associate executive director for the Las Vegas Bowl. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NFR Introduces Golden Circle Of Champions
For the first time, the National Finals Rodeo has partnered with the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo to offer the Golden Circle of Champions. The event brings in 20 children and their families from around the country that have previously or are currently fighting life-threatening cancer.
NFR Time Lapse 2018
Watch Thomas & Mack Center transform from a basketball court to an arena fit for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. Video courtesy of Las Vegas Events.
RJ's Mark Anderson on the UNLV loss
Review-Journal sports reporter Mark Anderson recaps UNLV's loss at Illinois. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Joel Ntambwe on performance against Illinois
UNLV forward Joel Ntambwe talks about the 18 points he scored against Illinois. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Amauri Hardy on loss at Illinois
UNLV guard Amauri Hardy talks about Saturday's loss at Illinois. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Marvin Menzies on loss at Illinois
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about Saturday's loss at Illinois. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Baby Roman's mother and his doctor talk about his medical condition
Baby Roman's mother and his doctor talk about his medical condition. Roman was born Dec. 13, 2017 and has been at Sunrise Children Hospital with a rare heart condition since. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
NFR 2018: Unique Gifts At Cowboy Christmas
Before you head over to the Thomas and Mack for NFR, be sure to check out some of the unique and one of a kind items at Cowboy Christmas!
NFR: Dale Brisby
Day two of the National Finals Rodeo has started and Premier Vegas Sports host Cassies Soto interviews social media influencer Super Puncher Dale Brisby.
103-year-old celebrates birthday at gym
Joe Rosa of Las Vegas celebrated his 103rd birthday celebration at 24 Hour Fitness in Summerlin Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. After being the victim of a hit-and-run crash, Rosa's medical team told him he would never walk again. Rosa credits physical therapy and a personal trainer at the club for his return to health. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson native Mason Clements finished second in NFR bareback go-round
Mason Clements discusses his second-place bareback ride on opening night of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec 6, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marvin Menzies on where UNLV stands at this point
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about where UNLV stands at this point in the season. (Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
The Mob Museum
Saddle bronc rider Joey Sonnier earns spot at NFR after overcoming years of drug addiction
Joey Sonnier started saddle bronc riding at 18, but at 20 he began using methamphetamine to cope with the work of the rodeos and became addicted. At 39, after years of addiction and a low point that pushed him to rehab, he's qualified for the National Finals Rodeo. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Core Arena opens at the Plaza downtown in time for NFR
Core Arena, downtown's first permanent outdoor equestrian center, opens to the public at the Plaza. The arena will be used for events throughout the year, including the 10-day 2018 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo at the Thomas
MountainView Hospital celebrates the opening of the new Sunrise Health GME Simulation Center.
MountainView Hospital celebrates the opening of the new Sunrise Health GME Simulation Center. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
NFR Preps Livestock for the Limelight
NFR’s Jed Pugsley discusses the care that goes into preparing the rodeo’s livestock for Las Vegas’ big event.
Grand Menorah lighting begins Hanukkah
Rabbi Shea Harlig led the ceremonial lighting of the menorah to begin Hanukkah at the Fremont Street Experience. There were also performances by the Desert Torah Academy's choir and the Dancing Dreidels. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Perla Gumm has spent the past few years collecting toys for kids for the LV Rescue Mission
Perla Gumm has spent the past few years collecting toys for kids for the LV Rescue Mission. It's something she started even before the rescue mission was her beneficiary; she just felt a need to collect toys and teamed up with them later. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Marvin Menzies on Cincinnati
UNLV basketball coach Marvin Menzies talks about Cincinnati and his own program. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Joey Logano talks about Champions Week in Las Vegas
NASCAR champion Joey Logano talks about the future of Champion's Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 28, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rain hits Las Vegas Valley
Widespread rain hit the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Valley Hit with Rain, Clouds
Rain and clouds hit the Las Vegas Valley on Thursday afternoon.
Ducks have Lorenzi Park to themselves
Thursday’s rain kept people inside, leaving Lorenzi Park to the ducks.
Kyle Busch Reflects On Disappointing End To Nascar Season
Kyle Busch reflects on disappointing end to his 2018 season during NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 28, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Animal Foundation's Lost & Found offers community options for lost pets
The Lost & Found at The Animal Foundation allows members of the community to turn in lost pets or retrieve them. They recently started using the Finding Rover app that uses facial recognition to find and report lost pets.
The National Atomic Testing Museum is a Blast
Entertainment
WinterFest
WinterFest in Henderson.
Miss Rodeo America Fashion Show
The 28 women contestants of Miss Rodeo America compete in a fashion show at the Tropicana on Dec. 7, 2018.
Tournament Of Kings Holiday Show
Wizards and warriors are ready for the holidays at Excalibur's Tournament of Kings Holiday Dinner Show.
Take a dive with the Silverton mermaids
A visit to the Silverton Casino Hotel is not complete without taking in the popular, and very unique, mermaid show.
Cowboys and western aficionados can buy virtually anything at Cowboy Christmas
Vegas Golden Knights Christmas Display
In the Las Vegas Valley, the chances of getting a white Christmas are slim. But this year, you can have a “Knight” Christmas. A Henderson resident has a Christmas lights display that is synchronized to the entrance music for the Golden Knights. GG Misa’s Knights light show is played every 30 minutes from 5 to 10 nightly. His light show consists of two songs: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and the entrance music, “Le Castle Vania,” from the movie “John Wick.” The display is located at 730 Bollons Island St. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Reivew-Journal)
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez is Just in Time For Repeal Day And Christmas
Holiday Hooch At El Cortez Is Just In Time For Repeal Day And Christmas. Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal
TV's LGBT superheroes
Green Valley Ranch's Winter's Village
The Mob Museum
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quick Chat With Criss Angel
James D. Gish and Susan Anton rehearse
Susan Anton will be special guest at James D. Gish’s holiday concerts Dec. 7 at Summerlin Library and Dec. 9 at Clark County Library. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio Winter Wonderland
"Majestic Holiday Magic" at the Bellagio Conservatory.
Underwater Santa At The Silverton
Santa takes a dive Sunday, December 2, at the Silverton Casino Hotel. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Cowabunga Bay Christmas Town
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which opened in 1991, has exhibits of mechanical dinosaurs and taxidermied animals, along with live snakes, fish and sharks. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Magical Forest Lights
Cirque Du Soleil Performers Team Up For New Show "Kinekt"
Through dance, acrobatics and aerial arts, “Kinekt” tells a story all too familiar to modern families: how to maintain a human connection in the digital age. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ethel M Holiday Cactus Garden
The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas
The Pinball Hall of Fame was created by Tim Arnold and opened in 2006. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas
Trainer Lou “Mack” McCammon guides several rescue dogs through a series of tricks and jumps two shows a day weekends through December at the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buddy V - Sep 21 Confidante
Famous Infinity Mirror Room is open in Las Vegas
Yayoi Kusama's "Aftermath of Obliteration of Infinity" mirror room is open at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Glittering Lights dazzles Las Vegas
The Glittering Lights holiday display is shining at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (Mat Luschek/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Skybar at Waldorf Astoria lets you sip your way through Las Vegas history
Skybar At Waldorf Astoria Lets You Sip Your Way Through Las Vegas History (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stan Lee in Las Vegas for Madame Tussauds unveiling
Stan Lee Las Vegas speaks with the Review-Journal's Chris Lawrence about his love for his fans and shared universes. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ultimate Belgium Waffle Sundae at Lavo
Lavo at the Palazzo serves a 16-scoop ice cream sundae that costs $800. (Rochelle Ricahrds, Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip
A New Zip Line Is Opening On The Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel lLas Vegas Review-Journal)
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip
You'll need a keen eye to find this secret bar on the Las Vegas Strip (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like