Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bravo to Top Chef Tasting Menus!

Having spanked the city for not doing anything interesting with its Top Chef moment, I have to send out kudos to the folks at Wynn Las Vegas' Bartolotta and Mandalay Bay's RM Seafood.

Last week, as I wrote here, James Beard award winner Paul Bartolotta of Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare hosted a small, privaet viewing party to celebrate his turn as guest judge on the show. At the end of the evening, I asked Bartolotta if he'd be creating a tasting menu and he said he doubted it because the challenge he had to judge involved the chef'testants doing some spin on TV dinners based on classic TV shows and, really, that isn't what he does.

Imagine my surprise, then, when today I learned that not only did Bartolotta create a Top Chef tasting menu but that, at $175 a head, it's already a fairly significant success. On Tuesday night, for instance, Bartolotta sold 40 of them or about 13 percent of the 300ish covers. "It's the most expensive menu I've ever merchandised," he told me today. "It just tells you the power of this show. People really want that experience."

Bartolotta said Wynn culinary PR queen Amy Rossetti had already nudged him to do something to extend the Top Chef moment. Then I asked him last week, so he conferred with his wife, who suggested he recreate the menu he whipped up for the Top Chef contestants, a meal seen and drooled over in living rooms across America during the episode.

You might be wondering what you get for $175, which is specifically branded the "Bravo Top Chef Menu" alongside the two other prix fixe meals he already offered. Here's the rundown:


frittura di paranz (assorted fried Mediterranean seafood)
aquadelle (fried tiny silver fish)
gamberi rossi (imperial red shrimp)
calamaretti (tiny baby calamari)
totoni (flying squid)
moleche (Soft shell crabs from the lagoon of Venice)
mazzancole (Caramotte prawns)

Antipasti di Mare

cicala imperiale alla griglia (grilled slipper lobster)
ricciola alla griglia di carbone con salsa acciughe (charcoal-grilled Sicilian amberjack with anchovy sauce)
saute di vongole (clams with tomato and white wine)
triglia alla Ponentina (Ligurian red mullet, Taggiasche olives, roasted peppers)
piovra alla Ligure (Ligurian octopus salad, olive oil, lemon)


risotto nero (seafood risotto with cuttlefish ink)
penne con ragu di crostacei (penne pasta, lobster, shrimp, langoustines, crab, white wine, tomato)
ravioli di ricotta con caciotta e agnolotti del plin (sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli, pecorino cheese, Marsala wine glaze and classic Piemontese meat ravioli)

Secondi di Mare

branzino in crosta di sale profumato (sea bass in aromatic salt crust with Sicilian citrus sauce)

Sinfonia di dessert

Assortment of plated desserts, gelati, granite and sorbetti

Yum, huh? Yes, extravagant, too. Even in their English translations, I have no idea what half of that is. But he's selling them like whatever hotcakes would be in Italian. Bartolotta figured he'd sell a few, a curiosity. He's as knocked over as anyone that people will/can pay that price in this economy.

I should also note that Rick Moonen, who was a Top Chef Masters contestant this spring and whose RM Seafood and Restaurant RM at Mandalay Bay were the scene of the Restaurant Wars episode that aired Oct. 21, has also added some show-related items to his menus. In Moonen's episode of Top Chef Masters, he ran out of time making a twist on a corn dog that involved shrimp puree and did not serve it to the judges, so he now offers the completed dish on his menu as the Top Chef Moon Doggie.

These are great ways to tie in with the show. Congrats.


atdnext said...

OMG, have you seen this yet?!

The M is FINALLY promoting "Top Chef"! It's too bad they're still not doing watch parties or promos at any of the restaurants (Seriously, a watch party for "Grey's Anatomy" but NOT the show that was filmed at this very property??!!), but it's about damned time they FINALLY mention it on their web site. Still, I hope they consider inviting some of this season's contestants to perhaps do events at the restaurants and/or feature "Top Chef Menus" at Marinelli's, Terzetto, and/or Veloce Cibo.

And since "Top Chef" is now featuring Quickfire wines on the show, they should definitely offer Quickfire tastings at The Hostile Grape!