Disappointment at Bartolotta (except 2 pasta dishes)
I just went to Bartolotta Friday night with 4 friends and was sorely dissapointed. First, we had to wait 45 minutes for our table. Now, it is Vegas, so that happens, and it was raining, so the outdoor tables hadd to move in and that screwed things up. No problem--we were ready to forgive and forget. Alas, it then took 30 minutes to get a waiter to come talk to us about food. He told us the system also went down. Once again, we were ready to forgive, though at this point, quite hungry.
We ordered the family style tasting menu for $135 per person. In general, the apps and pastas ranged from good to great, but the piece de resistance, the whole fish, was overcooked and pretty much inedible. Also the timing of the whole meal was screwed up, with the second course coming before everyone was finished with the apps, and then the whole fish being brought up in the middle of the pasta course, only to be taken back to the kitchen and clearly kept warm under heat lamps, which caused it to be wayyyy overcooked. In the end, we talked to the manager who was half-apologetic/half-excuse making. He did take care of us some and comped one persons meal, the wine and coffee. So at least it was a bit cheaper.
Before I describe the food, one observation. The meal was family style, which I thought would be great. 4 courses of 4 apps, 3 pastas and the whole fish plus dessert. I think part of the problem is that we are not used to spending $135 per person for a family style dinner. Perhaps we wanted the drama and service of a traditional 7 course tasting menu (which is about how many "tastes" we had). Have other people had this feeling? I really wanted to like the family style aspect of the dinner, but I guess it seemed less special.
Anyway, the food:
-Arugala, artichoke, mushroom salad: Good, nothing special
-Pan seared sea scallops with some greens with truffle oil: I thought this was excellent, though some thought the scallops were overcooked
-Amberjack on a bed of endive: This was also good, not great. Just a few nice slices of fish with olive oil and lemon
-Grilled langoustines: These were great. Each of us got a whole langoustine, grilled perfectly, great flavor
-Pasta rags with crab and shrimp: AMAZING. One of best pastas I have ever had. Perfectly chewy pasta, with a fresh cherry tomato sauce and delicious seafood. Wish I just ordered this.
-Ricotta ravioli with a butter sauce and reduced Marsala: Also excellent. The ricotta was really flavorful and the marsala reduction gave it a great touch of sweetness.
-Agnolotti del plin: Usually one of my favorite pastas (Quince in SF has a great version), these were just eh. The filling was way too salty and caused all the flavors to be muddled.
Orata: I love Orata--when it isn't bone dry. The marinated cherry tomatos they served with it were nice though
Some other fish: also overcooked, served with some nice sauces, but who really cares?
A whole bunch: All were good. The coffee mouse thing was very nice, as was the cassis sorbet. I also liked the rosemary gelato, though the pineapple carpaccio was too sweet (well duh Andy, it is just sliced pineapple)
Anyway, even though the manager swore it was an off experience, I think i will try another overpriced Vegas restaurant next time I in town.
Let's not forget, even though I live near Milwaukee (where everything Bartolotta is revered, even if exceedingly mediocre), when Paul was the Chef at Spiaggia in Chicago, the quality went down, down, down. Down to the point where they had to rehire Tony Mantuano, who originally earned them their DiRONA award, amongst others, to restore Spiaggia to its original quality level. And it's no doubt it has improved a lot over the past couple of years. So, we've been waiting for the reviews of Paul's great desert experience, wondering whether the tourists would notice the good, but not great, cuisine.