Las Vegas, NV – Nove Italiano (The Palms)

Restaurant: Nove Italiano
Cuisine: Italian/Fine Dining
Last visited: January 24, 2011
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada (The Palms)
Address: 4321 W Flamingo Rd
Price Range: $50+

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: n/a
Service: n/a
Ambiance: 5
Overall: n/a
Additional comments:

  • Fine dining Italian
  • Contemporary Italian cuisine
  • Executive Chef Geno Bernardo
  • Fresh handmade pastas
  • Fresh fish/seafood
  • Famous for steaks
  • Full wine bar
  • Energetic/posh atmosphere
  • Restaurant/Bar/Lounge
  • Weekdays 5:30pm-10pm
  • Weekends 5:30pm-11pm
  • Lounge 5pm 7 nights a week

**Recommendations: Pesce Crudo, Raviolo, Shrimp Francaise, Death by Potatoes, Duck and The Veal Nove is excellent, but I don’t know if I would order it again. The Strawberry Carpaccio and Raspberry Granita for dessert.

This is perhaps the most food for the least amount of people I’ve ever experienced in my life – in non-buffet circumstances. I don’t know though because “The Fullest I’ve Ever Been Moments in 2010” were quite epic. Nonetheless I had a very memorable dining experience at Nove Italiano at The Palms in Las Vegas. I don’t think I would have easily discovered this fine dining Italian restaurant on my own, but I am very pleased to have been introduced to it. It’s not really a popular restaurant so it has been regarded as a “hidden gem”, it has pretty solid reviews and I was told it was one of “the best Italian restaurants”. The praise for it was high, so naturally so were my expectations.
It was hard to capture the ambiance of the restaurant and it was a lot nicer than what my photo shows. The chandeliers were made of Swarovski crystals, but I kind of felt like I was having dinner in Cher’s dining room, waiting for Purple Rain to come on and a guest appearance from Prince. It goes for that energetic and trendy atmosphere, but at times it can feel a bit dated, although the view from the restaurant is incredible.

A portion of the restaurant has these unique… okay I’m sorry, I can’t defend them. Edward Scissorhands could have done a better job at hedge sculpting, but I guess they certainly made a statement in not one… but 3 ways. I’ll give you a minute to think about that one.

Executive Chef Geno Bernardo & I

Now here comes my several biases. The occasion was special and we had a lot of “royal treatments” that were greatly appreciated throughout the night. Contrary to what you may be assuming, these “special favours” we’re NOT because of me (not to sound pretentious, but just taking into consideration the food blogger gig).

We were actually celebrating the birthday of a very special lady and I was honoured to be one of the guests. My friend, I’ll call him “Mr. Seeds”, had a personal connection, so Executive Chef Geno Bernardo went above and beyond to make the evening unforgettable. Wow, calling him “Mr. Seeds” makes him sound like a drug dealer, but he’s not… and if he was he’d be in prison after this post. Anyways the restaurant was aware that I was a food blogger as well. We were treated to lots of special off the menu appetizers, but I will try my best to approach Nove Italiano from a neutral perspective. After all, honesty is the best policy.

Nove Italiano is inventive Italian dining and for me it was more modern American-Italian in style and flavours rather than authentic Italian. Taking that into consideration I have to look at it from an angle of “does it taste good” and “was it worth it” rather than how close it comes to traditional Italian cuisine. Generally I did enjoy most of the food, although at times I felt it was a bit too salty or on the heavy side. Since I was able to make a massive dent in the menu I can say that a few of the flavours do get a bit repetitive, although still good. The dishes are rich and there’s not really a trick to ordering because even the light dishes are still quite rich. It’s a meal where I’d say to myself “I need a break after this”, but I never really mean it. I would still recommend the restaurant for certain dishes in particular, and I would come back to try other things with or without the special favours. So as the story goes… on to the food… or the table!

On the table:

Prosecco

Veal Calzone

  • Off the menu special, compliments from the chef.
  • Basic, but good. It was a very soft and buttery pie pastry with well seasoned ground veal filling and a simple tangy marinara topping as the sauce.
  • It’s not a traditional pizza crust calzone, but the dough was more like a dessert pastry.

Fried Polenta

  • Off the menu special, compliments from the chef.
  • A very crispy panko crusted deep fried polenta (boiled cornmeal).
  • The texture was great and the inside was a creamy soft polenta filling made of what I think was Parmesan cheese and perhaps Mascarpone. Again, very simple, but still good.

**Pesce Crudo – 5/6

  • The Italian version of sashimi and this one was a salmon crudo. This is offered on the menu, but varies daily.
  • I don’t know how I missed this on the Antipasti menu, but I would have ordered it if I saw it, luckily chef showcased it anyways.
  • It was very fresh and I loved the salty juicy bites of creamy salmon roe with the hint of lemon zest and then crunch of a white caviar that looked like tobiko. It was my first time trying this white caviar, although it reminded me of cod roe, so it could have been that.
  • It was very simple, but caviar doesn’t need much to shine anyways, so the hint of lemon was perfect.

 

Foie Gras Crostini

  • Off the menu special, compliments from the chef.
  • Very rich and buttery slices of chilled foie gras with a sweet onion jam topping on a very crunchy crostini.

Complimentary Bread and Butter

  • I know I always comment on the bread and butter, but at this point I had to conserve stomach space so I barely touched it… but of course I still touched it!
  • It was crunchy pretzel sticks and the Ciabatta was sesame crusted, super soft, but not chewy. It was nutty and almost a bit cheesy, but not really a Ciabatta as much as it was a regular soft and fluffy bread with a rubbery crust rather than crunchy one.

The focaccia could have used more love. It was soft and fluffy with some fresh Oregano leaves baked on. I have to say the complimentary focaccia at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina in City Centre, also in Vegas, is amazing.

Caprese – 5/6

  • Oven roasted roma tomatoes, pesto, pine nuts, mozzarella di bufala $15
  • If you like Caprese, this is an excellent one.
  • The flavours are bold and the pesto is fresh, but lighter than usual and more fruity and herby than it is nutty and cheesy. The only thing is that I wish the pine nuts were pureed into the pesto sauce as well as being sprinkled on top. I’m assuming it was done for people with allergies… boo.
  • The olive oil was noticeably fruity and rich in flavour intensifying the aromatic herbs, and the sweet tang of balsamic glaze gave the juicy tomatoes and pesto a nice contrast.

Onion Soup – 2.5/6

  • Pancetta, poached farm egg, baccala $11
  • I was a bit confused since this is a French soup, so I was hesitant on the order, but still curious to try it.
  • This was a very chunky version of French Onion Soup and it was loaded with caramelized onions and a rich stock possibly made with veal.
  • It was very intense in flavour but too salty, and I have a high tolerance for salt. It was also very sweet and it was just a bit too much of both that the natural flavours of the ingredients were overpowered.
  • The pancetta was a nice Italian touch and so was the baccala (Italian salt cod), but both those items are so salty already that the flavour of them was lost and wasted in a salt battle.

  • The egg was a brilliant idea, and if you like eggs, you’ll love Chef Bernardo.
  • The egg was gorgeous and perfectly poached. It made the already rich soup so much richer but I still loved the concept.
  • It added a creamy thickness to the soup and it made it less salty, but the soup base could have been lighter especially with the added egg.
**Raviolo – 5.5/6
  • Egg yolk filled, truffle butter, pecorino pepata $14
  • Alright, Chef Bernardo must have been Asian in his past life because he knows the secret of putting an egg on anything and making it taste good… not to say it wouldn’t have tasted good without the egg, but this dish was excellent!
  • This is pretty much the most delicious version of bacon and eggs you can enjoy for dinner.

  • Food porn right there! I don’t even know how he did this. Brilliant execution and concept and something I’ve never seen done before.
  • The egg yolk acted as the sauce for this raviolo and it made for a very rich and indulgent appetizer. It did over power the truffle butter, although I could taste more butter than truffle in the first place.
  • Along with the poached egg filling there was also a thick and creamy rich ricotta filling that was almost mousse like at the same time. It could have been a combination of Mascarpone and ricotta whipped up, and the silky texture of the poached egg white was an excellent complement in flavour and texture.
  • The inside was nice and cheesy and it was topped with crispy pancetta and salty cheese which carried a bit of heat, but it’s not spicy.
  • The raviolo skin was a tad overcooked, but the rest of it was so good I didn’t care. The only thing missing was that truffle oil flavour.

Burrata – 4/6

  • Housemade bresola, roasted beets, local honey, flatbread $16
  • The Burrata cheese is really making itself comfortable on every menu on the West Coast, however the quality will vary.
  • It’s pretty much impossible to get authentic Burrata cheese unless you’re in Italy because the real stuff would expire before it arrives. It’s traditionally served in leaves, but it’s unlikely you’ll come across it being served this way in any North American restaurant.
  • It’s very similar to Mozarella, but it’s made from Water Buffalo milk. The texture is much different and it’s stringy, and almost like an ultra creamy poached egg. The Burrata here was okay, but more spongy and less stringy and creamy.
  • I’ve only tried 5 varieties of Burrata cheese and I still like the one from Trattoria the best – see here. See here for my recipe on how to replicate it at home.
  • I did love the warm flat bread, honey, candied beets, and sweet thick and tangy balsamic onion syrup they served it with. It was a fun platter with well thought out ingredients that were new to an Italian meat and cheese platter.
  • The housemade bresola is cured beef and it’s firm and jerky like. It was well aged and its natural meaty flavour really came through.
**Shrimp Francaise – 6/6
  • The best you ever had $18
  • If I’m going to have “the best [I've] ever had” for $18, you better bet it’ll be on my table!
  • Do I have anything to compare to? No. This was my first time trying Shrimp Francaise, and if this is the standard that is now set on my palate, then any other Shrimp Francaise I order from now on will have a lot of work to do.
  • I take it that it is a super simple dish from the flavours I got, but nonetheless I am waiting for it to be exposed and picked up by many more Italian restaurants because it’s delicious!
  • It was butterflied prawns that were dipped into a lightly beaten egg batter and pan fried until crispy, so it tasted like fried eggs as well.
  • The prawns are served in one of the best lemon garlic butter sauces I’ve had to date. It was rich and savoury and tangy with the hint of lemon and fresh from the chopped parsley. You can’t go wrong with lemon garlic butter sauce, and god knows how much of this sauce I’ve consumed, but this was one of the best versions of it I’ve had.
  • The prawns were crunchy, tender and juicy with a crispy fried egg exterior and then the sauce was a “don’t waste it sauce,” where you call dibs on table bread just to soak it up and not see it go to waste.

Pastas

I’m really glad that they offer the pastas in half order portions because they are quite rich and I would rather order two different pastas than one big potion of the same thing.

Ravioli – 4.5/6

  • Ricotta, walnut pesto, tomato sauce (Photo above is half order, full order $22)
  • This was very rich and buttery, but very flavouful.
  • There was a combination of fruity olive oil, very herby pesto sauce and then a tangy fresh tomato sauce with the richness of a salty creamy ricotta stuffing.
  • The pesto sauce was the same one used on the Caprese and again I wish the walnuts were incorporated into the pesto sauce as well as being sprinkled on top.
  • I could taste a nice balance of fresh parsley, oregano and basil used in the pesto, but no strong garlic flavours or even any Parmesan cheese, so it was a house version of Pesto sauce, just like in the Caprese.
  • I loved the nutty crunch of the walnuts and I could taste every layer of ingredient.
  • The quality of olive oil was not to be overlooked because it intensified the flavours of everything else and made them merry well together.

**Pansotti – 5/6

  • Nana’s recipe, braised short rib, spinach, brown butter, hazelnuts (Photo above is half order, full order $22)
  • It was still an excellent pasta and my favourite pasta dish of the night. Thank goodness, because it was my side.
  • “Braised short rib” are magical words to me, but the filling didn’t seem like braised short rib.
  • It was like the Italian version of the Shanghainese XLB aka xiao long bao or “juicy pork dumplings”.
  • It came across as braised shredded pork shoulder mixed with coarsely ground pork. It was more like a meatball, but the textures were interesting and overall the pansotti does have a predominant pork flavour. It was delicious, but just not what I expect when I see “braised short rib”.
  • Besides the nutty savoury brown butter sauce, most of the sauce actually came from the natural au jus of the pork filling.
  • This pork filling was incredibly tender and juicy and I feel like it was braised in duck fat. It also had little bits of melt in your mouth fat throughout the mixture and you can taste the continuous flow of incredibly rich and meaty pork juice.
  • Initially you’re hit with the nutty sweet aroma of hazelnuts first, followed by this juicy liquid of pork confit juice, and then the final flavours go back to the hazelnuts. The salty bite of brown butter sauce comes at the end and it enhanced the nuttiness of the overall dish as well.
  • I could have used more hazelnuts and I think crispy sage would be a nice alternative to fresh parsley, which seemed a bit tiring at this point, but overall I’d still highly recommend this dish as a side.

Sunday Gravy – 3.5/6

  • Braciole, sausage, meatballs, pork gravy (Photo above is half order, full order $25)
  • YES! That is a HALF order! It was definitely the biggest half order for the pastas and more than enough for a main course.
  • This was a very hearty Americanized version of Italian food. It was heavily sauce, very rich and meaty, but not in the way I was expecting. I didn’t feel like it suited the theme of the restaurant and it seemed a bit too “family style” for a fine dining place.
  • The meats were good, but the sauce and pasta didn’t do much for me.
  • It was a bit underwhelming for “Sunday Gravy” and I was expecting more of a traditional pork gravy made with pork au jus and a cream sauce rather than a thick housemade tomato sauce. I also thought the meats would be more incorporated into the dish rather than being served whole, as is, on top of the pasta.
  • The highlight was the braciole which is a pan fried Italian beef but it’s as tender and flavourful as pulled pork. It’s cooked in its own juices, and it was a bit unfortunate it was covered by the house made pesto as well as the tangy tomato sauce because its natural flavour is something to look forward to.
  • The meatball was one giant meatball (hiding behind the white cloud) and it was delicious, but more like a meatloaf. I think there was a mixture of carrots, onions and celery so it had a slight sweetness and very soft and tender texture.
  • It was actually a spicy meatball so it was nice to have the large cloud of what I think was creme fraiche (perhaps mixed with Mascarpone) because the creamy tang helped cut the spiciness and it was almost a palate cleanser for the meats. It tasted like a whipped semi melted yogurt.
  • The sausage was about a 1/4 of a link and it was quite substantial, and placed beside the meatball. It was a juicy thick sausage link that tasted similar to spicy salami and it was almost like an Italian bratwurst, but very meaty with fatty pork flavour.

Tortellini – n/a

  • Prosciutto, black truffle cream sauce, arugula (Photo above is half order, full order $22)
  • For one of the few cream based dishes of the night, and what I expected to be the richest, it was actually on the lighter side compared to everything else.
  • This is surprising, but I actually felt it lacked flavour and I couldn’t taste the black truffle, although I didn’t have enough to say, so I’m not rating it.
  • The filling was light pink and it looked salmon filled and the flavour wasn’t strong enough for me to pick out what it was. I just know that it wasn’t worth my stomach space so I moved on.

Saikou Salmon – n/a

  • Shellbean risotto, gremolata butter $34
  • The salmon was a huge portion and it had a beautiful crispy skin and the meat was falling apart juicy and tender. It was well seasoned and I could taste a nice infusion of fruity olive oil. I didn’t get to taste the gremolata butter though and it was used very sparingly, hence my reason for not rating it.
  • The risotto was al dente with a firm bite but because it was made with beans it ended up building up a starchy texture rather than a creamy one. It was made with a tangy lemon cream sauce, crisp green beans and some freshly cracked black pepper that gave it a nice aromatic heat.
  • I didn’t find it necessarily worth it and I think the execution could have been better. A nice drizzle of a well infused olive oil would have brought the silkiness back in the risotto and I feel like it was missing an ingredient. Maybe I was so addicted to the strong bolder flavours of all the dishes that this one just seemed a bit unfinished.

Chicken Parmigiana – n/a

  • Oven roasted, tomato, mozzarella $29
  • That is a 6 foot 4 giant holding that dish! That’s how big this chicken parmigiana was!
  • I did have some, but not enough to rate it.
  • The chicken was tender, super cheesy with tangy tomato sauce.  It was the most “what you would expect” dish.
  • The ingredients were fresh, but it was what it was.

**Veal Nove – 5/6

  • Thinly sliced scaloppine, prosciutto, arugula, lemon $42
  • This is a house specialty and if you like the Shrimp Francaise appetizer, chances are you’ll enjoy this. It was almost the same, but just different proteins.
  • The veal was delicious and it had this shallot, garlic and lemon butter with white wine sauce that was amazing.
  • It’s so buttery and oily that it’s almost like a cream sauce and it’s incredibly rich and well worth the many many calories.
  • I could taste the fruity olive oil and they must be using an excellent quality of wine to get that flavour in a butter sauce.
  • The prosciutto was a bit weak and I though it was going to be wrapped around the veal or just presented better.
  • It comes with 3 veal cutlets that are pounded flat and melt in your mouth tender. It’s a bit pricey, but very shareable.
  • Arugula and lemon salad… I had no room for salad, so I passed.

**Duck – 5.5/6

  • Pan seared breast, crispy leg, lentils, roasted grapes $32
  • This reminded me of a duck confit. It was very contemporary and I wouldn’t have categorized it as “Italian” as I would contemporary French.
  • This was a massive portion and well worth it!

  • I know the menu said “pan seared breast” but I still expected that would mean crispy and it wasn’t. I was really disappointed because duck needs to be eaten with the fat, but when it’s all chewy the texture just doesn’t fly with me. It needs to be crispy and therefore I personally enjoyed the duck leg much more. The meat of the duck breast was very tender though and I did ask for it medium, which was perfect.
  • This duck was quite sweet but it had a nice tangy balsamic drizzle and actually reminded me of the one from Redd in Napa Valley, but I prefer this version.
  • The lentils were also sweet with perhaps some honey and they were rather firm and almost crunchy rather the creamy. It had a very nutty quality and there were also some sweet carrots, onions and celery to help build the flavours.
  • I loved the several sweet and savoury combinations all throughout the dish and juicy bursts of sweet grapes to lighten everything up. The balsamic glaze was a great contrast and it was a sophisticated ensemble that I look forward to ordering again.

Filet Mignon – 5/6

  • 8 oz $43 Il Forno style (garlic, parmigiano, ravioli) +$10
  • Nove is owned by the N9ne Group who are famous for their steaks, so I was told that steaks were the hot item.
  • The ravioli was a bit dry and nothing really special and I think it was just a simple ricotta cheese filling with baked Parmesan cheese on top.

;

  • The steak was pretty perfect. I’m not sure how long they age them for, and it’s not the best steak in my life, although still excellent and well prepared.
  • The topping was just a crispy garlic and melted Parmesan Cheese crust and it was very delicious, but the steak would have been good with or without it.
  • I’m not so sure that the extra $10 for “Il Forno” style was worth it. I’d rather skip it and order this next item!

**Death by Potatoes – 6/6

  • $11 (Side)
  • Those are the hands of another 6 foot 3 giant holding that dish! It was a huge portion and I’d gladly order this as an incredibly indulgent main as well!
  • It tastes like the best version of a delicious melted baked potato pie.
  • The texture was so silky smooth and creamy that it seemed like a baked potato sauce! DE-LICIOUS!
  • It’s creamy potatoes mashed with a whole lot of  butter, olive oil and truffle oil. There’s also melted Parmesan cheese, a Mascarpone cheese centre, crispy cubes of salty Pancetta, green onions and a crispy Parmesan gratin crust. This was heaven and if I could marry it I would. Til death do us part potatoes… you didn’t kill me, but you were close.

Chinese Broccoli with Grilled Baby Octopus

  • Side
  • I bet chef looked at our order and came to the smart conclusion that we needed some vegetables besides “Death by Potatoes”. So this side came unexpected, but much appreciated.
  • It was sweet and savoury with smoky and spicy grilled octopus. The legs were jerky like and they reminded me of the delicious charred sweet and crispy bits of BBQ ribs.
  • It did make me very curious to want to order the Grilled Baby Octopus from the appetizers. It’s on my list for next time!

Branzino Neck

  • Our server came out and said “Chef wants to know if you’d be interested in trying fish neck?” My immediate answer – yes please! (Off the menu special, compliments from the chef) 
  • I’m not sure if this was a Branzino fish and I’m not too familiar with its flavour, but I know the head looks like that.
  • I ate the cheeks and part of the neck and called it quits… after returning to a bit more potatoes of course.
  • I wish this was on the menu though because it was excellent.
  • It was a very aromatic fish with that delicious fruity olive oil, an herb pesto and a wonderful lemon scent. It was almost like a fruity lemony perfume marinade and the grilling technique just intensified the strong aroma of ingredients.
  • The sauce was made from lobster shells so it was so infused with shellfish flavour and he served it with pan fried lobster and cuttle fish. I felt like I was in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Dessert

Oh sweet lord! In the most literal sense. This was definitely the most grand entrance I’ve ever experienced with dessert. The desserts were okay, but the highlights were in the dinner. I question if Nove has their own in house pastry chef because I get the feeling that they might not. They’re fun desserts, but they bounce around from French to Italian, but nonetheless this was a special treat, so I’m biased.

**Strawberry Carpaccio – 4.5/6

  • Sliced strawberries, aged balsamic vinegar reduction, candied Panko crumbs and creme fraiche ice cream
  • I loved this dessert, and more so for its creativity, but the flavours were also excellent.
  • It was thin slices of sweet and tart strawberries, with sweet and tart syrupy balsamic glaze, and then a refreshing tangy and creamy creme fraiche ice cream with crispy bits of candied Panko crumbs.
  • The textures and flavours matched incredibly well and the Panko crumbs were such a smart idea! As much as I love nuts (insert joke here), this would be a great alternative to anyone with nut allergies.

Dessert Platter

  • This was in honour of our special guest of the evening, so it was a special favour. They had 2-3 servers come out carrying this stone platter!
  • I don’t even know where to start! Oh wait yes I do! Granitas – melts first and good palate cleansers!

Granitas – 4/6

  • Shaved Italian ice: lemon and raspberry
  • The lemon was much too tart and sweet, and I think it would be good to make it with Prosecco.
  • The raspberry one was perfect! It was well balanced and it tasted like it was made from real raspberry puree, which is likely.

Cheesecake – 2.5/6

  • I’m not a huge cheesecake fan, but I love Tiramisu… which is what I was crossing my fingers for. Tiramisu is a standard dessert I’d expect at any Italian restaurant so I was a bit bummed out.
  • It was a very light, fluffy and mousse like cheese cake, but the graham cracker crust was a bit soggy.
  • The cheesecake likers at the table thought it was good, but they weren’t fighting for another helping, although we were pretty full at this point.

Nutella Tower Chocolate Mousse – 3.5/6

  • It was like a Kashi cocoa puff rice crispy cake on the bottom and then chocolate nutella mousse on top finished with whipped cream.
  • The bottom wasn’t really a rice crispy, but it was similar. The rice cereal was a the puffy kind so it wasn’t as crispy but more airy like rice cakes. It was still molded together with a sticky sweet candy syrup.
  • It was a bittersweet chocolate with equal parts nutella mousse and I could appreciate the idea, but I wasn’t floored by it.
  • I think the incorporation of actual hazelnuts somewhere would have been great.

“Do-it-Yourself” Cannolis - 5/6 for idea, 2/6 for flavour

  • I haven’t had enough cannolis in my lifetime to say if these were authentic, but I loved the idea behind it!
  • The cannoli shells tasted like over fried tortilla shells so it was almost savoury and not sweet at all.

  • It came with an assortment of toppings, so you got to pipe your own cannoli and I felt like I was at a kid’s birthday. Very fun and still suitable to the youthful atmosphere the restaurant tries to capture.
  • The pastry cream was delicious and I loved that part! It was a bit grainy like frosting, but definitely not as sweet and therefore more like pastry cream.

Profiteroles – 3/6

  • Pistachio custard with raspberry sauce, chocolate custard with chocolate sauce, vanilla custard with butterscotch sauce.
  • Great concept and flavour combinations, but the flavour and technique in the pastry shell was a bit off. It was just slightly dry although light and airy.
  • My favourite was the pistachio and raspberry sauce and I actually really loved the pistachio filling.

Cookies - 2.5/6

  • The cookies were cute and random. The biscotti was great, but the pink macaron was very flat and a bit sad, despite the happy face.
  • nonetheless it was a special occasion and everything was much appreciated on this dessert platter, so I’ll just stop here.

Geez, that was the longest post ever. Good night!

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