While many boast hyper-fresh, market-driven fare, nobody is executing like Costa Di Mare
By David Morris
Huzzah, it’s time to celebrate as the Costa Di Mare is back and better than ever. After a brief pause, we are relieved this Italian-inspired restaurant has returned. And while many boast hyper-fresh, market-driven fare, nobody is executing like Costa. What’s more, the Wynn likely paid more to transport (pound per pound) your dinner to Las Vegas than the average tourist did for their flight. That’s in large part due to the restaurant’s focus on ensuring fish swimming in the Med hits your plate the next day. But, that’s not to say there isn’t value. A comparable dining experience in Europe would actually cost you more and deliver less.
Go For the Grand Tasting. It’s Worth it
Before the arrival of General Manager Ivo Angelov—who recently decamped from the Bellagio’s Michelin and Forbes Five-Starred Le Cirque after 20 years—the menu here was a bit intimidating. Angelov along with executive chef Mark LoRusso have streamlined the offerings and shifted the pricing of fish from a price per 100 gram to a per person cost so ala carte diners can transparently review the menu. But honestly, we still recommend selecting the grand tasting for $150 per person. And even if you select all the supplements, (which you should), you’ll come out with less than half the cost of equivalent experiences at The French Laundry and the like.
And yes, we did just liken LoRusso’s cooking and Angelov’s front of house guidance to Laundry. The cooking here, while seemingly simple, is incredibly precise and the product is remarkable. While everyone emphasizes how special the langoustines are and that the restaurant will not reveal exactly where they come from (they do, in fact, taste clean, fresh and that good), we would be remiss to not discuss some of the other highlights.
Don’t Sleep on the Ravioli
Think imperial red shrimp (top it with their luxurious head sauce), Venetian soft-shell crabs (called moleche), Sicilian urchin, Lingurian octopus and expertly prepared crudo showcase just some of their exceptional antipasti. Lest we forget their pasta. While the nero di seppia—ribbon-like pasta made from the ink of the cuttle fish topped with the same sea-creature, shrimp and lobster—as well as the perfect risotto are notable, do yourself a favor and request several orders of ravioli. Filled with pecorino and ricotta and glazed with a masala vinegar this may be the single best dish in the entire city.
As for the mains, expect a selection of three different snappers (purple, pink and imperial), turbot, sole, John Dory, multiple breams, scorpion fish and bass. You cannot go wrong. As for the presentation, select a more “meaty” specimen and they will salt bake it for an Instagramable presentation.
What About the Drinks?
The wine program is solid and leans heavily on the Italian end of the spectrum. They can create an exceptional pairing for the $75 tasting, but the bottle pricing is actually quite fair—especially for their raid the cellar program. But we wouldn’t blame you if you stuck to libations created by resort mixologist Mariena Mercer. She has completely overhauled the program.
The “Fish Out of Water” is an Italian margarita—Patron reposado, apricot liqueur, Sicilian citrus and Mostarda—served in a glass fish. Other notable selects include the “Vespa”—Belvedere Mango Passion, cardamom, bergamot, lemon, ginger and basil topped with a Cham-feign foam—and the “Divine Comedy”—a Whistlepig-based old fashion complete with smoked hazelnut, blood orange and Amaro.
There’s Always Room for Dessert
With over a dozen sorbetti and gelati to choose from and half a dozen larger plates you can’t go wrong. Our pick is the bomboloni—Italian donuts filled with chocolate and hazelnut that comes complete with an espresso dipping mousse.
For reservations contact 702.770.3463, and trust us when we say request an outdoor table.