On my recent trip to Las Vegas, I stumbled upon Mario Batali’s Enoteca San Marco. Of all the dining options in Vegas (both celebrity chef and not), this restaurant struck a chord with my heart and my tummy. Though considered “casual dining” by Vegas standards, Enoteca is appropriate for a special celebratory occasion, quick lunch, or nice dinner. It’s also a point of interest for anyone curious about tasting Mario Batali’s highly lauded fare.
Plus number one for this gourmet Italian restaurant? It’s located in the Venetian. As I have a penchant for all things Italian, even the fake Venice façade of San Marco plaza made me delight in memories of European living. The restaurant does have interior tables, but most patrons seem to enjoy sitting “outside” in the plaza (which is actually indoors, but the light sky ceilings successfully create the impression you’re sitting outside). The café-style setting incites a boisterous energy in diners. Playing off the tradition of real San Marco entertainment, this plaza also boosts lively performances round the clock ranging from theatrical acts, violinists, opera singers and puppeteer/mime acts.
Number two: Enoteca has the most deliciously simply cuisine that I have ever tasted! Though I restrained myself, I could have eaten the same dish five days in a row. However I did eat there twice during my trip. Here are my recommendations:
This dish is named for the town of Amatrice, about an hour east of Rome, considered by many Italians to be the birthplace of the best cooks on the peninsula. Many dishes at the heart of Roman cooking may indeed have actually started in the region to the east of Lazio, Abruzzo.
¼ cup EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
12 ounces thinly-sliced GUANCIALE, PANCETTA or good bacon
1 red onion, cut lengthwise in half and then into ¼-inch-thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
2 cups basic tomato sauce
1 pound bucatini
Freshly grated pecorino romano
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.
Meanwhile, in a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, combine the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes; set over low heat and cook until the onion is softened and the guaniciale has rendered much of its fat, about 12 minutes.
Drain all but ¼ cup of the fat out of the pan (and set aside for tomorrow's breakfast). Add the tomato sauce, turn up the heat, and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and allow to bubble for 6 to 7 minutes.
While the sauce simmers, cook the bucatini in the boiling water for about a minute less than the package directions, until still very firm; drain.
Add the pasta to the simmering sauce and toss for about 1 minute to coat. Divide the pasta among four heated bowls and serve immediately, topped with freshly grated pecorino.
Basic Tomato Sauce
Makes 4 Cups
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 spanish onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
½ medium carrot, finely shredded
Two 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes
In a 3 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook until the carrot is quite soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, with their juice, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer until as thick as hot cereal, about 30 minutes. Season with salt. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for 6 months.
All of these dishes are ideal paired with a nice glass of vino. And if you’re in the mood for more carb indulgence, all courses are served with crusty Italian bread (ask for vinegar and olive oil).
Batali struck gold with this venue and menu. Enoteca San Marco is a must visit in Sin City!
What did you think of this review?
ENOTECA SAN MARCO joins Zach Allen's casual cooking sensibility with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's restaurateur expertise. A winning collaboration, Zach, Mario and Joe have combined their interests and styles to showcase the food they love in a relaxed, comfortable setting.
Gourmet Italian restaurant located in the Venetian in Las Vegas.