Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas

Preview of the fish yet to come.

Preview of the fish yet to come.

Hotels in Las Vegas are not inexpensive, and neither is Bartolotta. Chef Paul Bartolotta presents fresh fish flown in daily from the Mediterranean Sea. Sitting smack in the middle of the gorgeous Wynn hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada this four star restaurant stands out amongst the little stores and surrounding Casinos. An hour before our reservation I walked into the restaurant feeling as though I had walked into a whole other world.  I inquired about dress codes.  I was told that no sportswear was allowed and dress shoes and pants were required. A brief look at the four page menu and I was astonished. $85.00 for rare white truffle grated over any dish that was truffle approved. Half of a whole fish was $75.00. I knew this would be a night to remember, but how stuffy could they get?

We returned an hour later, as planned, and waited for our table.  We soon realized it had dawned on the general manager that he was seating a food critic.  He gave us the best seats in the house, a table on the lower level looking out over a lagoon. Silver balls in the water reflected the restaurant’s fancy décor back to us. Paul Bartolotta himself appears with an air of confidence in his stride. (We were told that Mr. Wynn requires  his chefs to be at their restaurants at all times). Beginning his 30 minute lecture, Paul Bartolotta showed us a cart with some of his fresh fish (eyes bulging) displayed. On the trip from Italy’s Mediterranean, all his fish had little tracker devices in their cases to make sure they were not stolen or spoiled by the wrong temperature. Although he spent so much time proudly emphasizing his points about the freshness of his fish we began to stir and felt the need to demand food. He offered us a special arrangement, not on the menu. We would suggest a couple of appetizers, but in the end he would choose most of the other dishes for our dinner.

A wine specialist came over and as my companion ordered wine I noticed that for $14 dollars you got a small proportion (1/4 of a glass).  A different person proceeded to perform each task at our table, as we were presented with one after another of multiple tempting dishes. One person would intrude on our conversation to lay down new silverware, another would lay new napkins swiftly, but all were polite and professional.

Seafood Dish

All at once the eating part began. First to arrive was the grilled cuddlefish, Spanish imperial red shrimp and soft shell crabs imported from Venice. Flash fried cuddle fish was tough and not great with a bland stretchy taste. Almost supposed to go together with the cuddle fish, the red shrimp gave off the boldest and most unique taste that I have ever tasted in a shrimp. Pushing the limits, the shrimp was absolutely fresh and exercised your taste buds so you were left dizzy. Simplicity rang the bell in the soft shell crab. A whole crab with seemingly nothing on it brought out the fresh taste of Venice. As far as I can see Paul Bartolotta has put more passion in his food than any other chef I know.

Less than two seconds after the empty course dishes disappeared into the kitchen, out came another. Strips of red mullet straight form the Mediterranean Sea served on a small decorated plate was swished down in from of me, along with many of my all time favorites: octopus salad, legatine  lobster, sea scallops. When I was slipping away to my dream land -vongole clams hovered below my eye level. Folks, this is seafood at its best. The red mullet was a tad bit too fishy, but still delicious. The octopus salad, chunks of octopus topped with olive oil and lemon juice that hid the fishy feeling and brought out the sweet taste. Unlike so many other restaurants which serve this dish, here the slimy slippery taste was as if you were eating raw octopus directly frrm the sea. Unbelievable. Three small rock lobsters sat on a platter with fish on the rim. The taste was surprisingly strong and sweet. This kind of lobster is so rare it’s extremely satisfying when you can devour them. The scallops (four) came with a slice of parmesan cheese that blended well. Sweet and well cooked-a great dish. Entranced and silent with awe I swam through colorful tastes and fabulous cooking. Coming around to reality I dove through a red sauce into the small clams. Tiny clams soaked in tomato based sauce with parsley, white wine, basil and a hint of garlic. The clams were a little too small, I thought, but they were extremely sweet and delectable.

Sitting, watching other happy eaters around me and at my table embarking on the same wild ride I was riding,  I realized that in a smokey Casino hotel like The Wynn, Bartolotta’s is a real good find. At our table, overlooking a ‘lagoon’ we peered at koi fish swimming around widely and cabañas spread out around the water. I watched a waiter drift over and slide the next dish slowly and surely as to not interrupt the moment of entire peace. Dreamy dishes of Lafayette lobster imported from Africa and a rare type of lobster. Crab, lobster and shrimp in spicy sauced ‘lasagnette’ pasta floated before me and drew me in to their spicy tastes. Next dish, a hand rolled ravioli filled with sheep’s milk cheese. The ravioli was one of the most spectacular dishes ever to hit my mouth. Warm sheep’s cheese creamy and simple. A soft smooth texture than a sharp cheesy taste (this time Tuscan pecorino cheese) hits me with every bite I take. The lobster didn’t have a particularly amazing taste, but it was still fresh and sweet. We were stuffed and attempted to beg off dessert, but failed miserably.


Chocolate flour cake smashed my dreams of seafood and pulled them to a whole new level. As we had ordered the tasting menu, Chef Paul Bartolotta completed his side of the bargain. Nine flavors including ice creams, sorbets and granite ices were set in front of us, each homemade that morning, I was assured. Although they were all memorable, the top three that stood out the most were the mango and raspberry sorbets, and the grapefruit granite. The mango was so thick, that if you closed your eyes you thought you were eating slices of ripe sweet mango. Grapefruit didn’t even require concentration; with a simple bite you were in the tropics eating sugared grapefruits straight from the trees sliced with your knife. Then the raspberry sorbet. With such amazing texture you felt like you were eating plump fresh giant raspberries with a breezy ocean surrounding you. Finishing the meal with such strong and memorable dishes chef Bartolotta brilliantly designed this meal.

Chef Bartolotta does not fool around with his food and his work pays off. Awarding this restaurant the, “best of 08” it takes no food critic to tell you how spectacular this restaurant is.

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~ by David Fishman on June 10, 2009.

4 Responses to “Bartolotta”

  1. I really love your writing.
    The dessert sounds heavenly, and it makes me want to go to this restaurant. You’re amazingly articulate for your age.
    I’m so excited to read more of your work!

  2. thank you

  3. Ugh, I liked! So clear and positively.
    Thank you

  4. Thank you! I would now go on this blog every day!
    Thank you

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