Being this will be my official first review on Blast Magazine I felt it was only right to commemorate this occasion with a “blast from the past” – Chef Wolfgang Puck. The first celebrity chef I worked with in Vegas, and with many restaurants to choose from along the Strip: CUT, Trattoria del Lupo and my old stomping grounds – Spago, in The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace.
With the many successes Wolfgang and Group have put together, we turn to one of Chef Puck’s newest concepts: Wolfgang Puck’s Pizzeria + Cucina – located within Crystals retail, entertainment and dining complex. Crystals boasts a chic, yet cozy contemporary environment, making this an ideal environment to grub + grab a drink or two after a long day of shopping. Visitors and locals alike will find the location is ideal, just steps from the Crystals Valet on the first floor, and the Aria Hotel lobby.
I must admit there were a couple of downsides to talk about regarding the experience factor. From the get-go the reservations process was a bit rough as I had to repeat my email address, for confirmation purposes, at least 3 times. Apparently the poor girl did not know what a ‘foodie’ was – nor how to spell it. Her repeating this to ensure she had the correct address did get a bit amusing, I must say. “What is it.. Poodie?” No darling, I’m a
Foodie, I like food. We won’t even go near the other two attempts. While that dog and pony show yielded no confirmation email, it was still something to laugh at later over a fairly decent meal. As a service fanatic, it really is difficult to go to a restaurant of this caliber and judge only by the food, alone. Service flaws were few but enough to warrant some point deductions – drinks taking abnormally long on a very slow evening, as well as bread being served literally minutes before our main course. Side dishes as well were forgotten, arriving ‘stealthily’, halfway through dinner. The fact that a manager did not even touch our table to see how things were also concerned me. Nevertheless, the show must go on! Allow me to run you through my dining experience at Wolfgang’s latest establishment!
We start the evening by placing our drink orders. The server must have returned two or three times in a 15-minute window with no drinks in hand. He was, however, eager to take our food order! The bruschetta and a prosciutto/mascarpone pizza to start. A word to the wise, when in ANY Wolfgang restaurant – eat the Pizza! The very same artisanal approach Chef boasts from the original Spago come to life on a thin-crusted piece of heaven. The Prosciutto pizza prepared with just the right amount of mascarpone and a drizzle of balsamic.
Being the pizza was not hot upon arrival (sigh), I took the liberty of biting into this right away. For the cocktail, my food server felt the Hemingway (gin-martini prepared with a bit of grapefruit and hint of lime) would be best to pair with the apps. I wasn’t truly thrilled with the pairing of grapefruit and the pizza (I contemplated the very act of vomiting). To the martini’s defense, however, it did pair nicely with the bruschetta. The fresh herbs and tomato really gave way for a tasty experience when sipping on Hemingway.
Dinner arrives in a timely fashion with all hands on deck – a very nice touch. All 6 dishes served in unison – with the exception of our side dishes that I imagined would be shortly behind … a minute passes and I mention these to our server. The typical glassy-eyed, deer in the headlights look came across his face, and a quick response (although questioning at the very same time) “yes, you had the asparagus” – Piping up, I jogged his memory -”and the Cauliflower?” – oh yes, they were very much forgotten. Nonetheless, I ordered the Lamb sirloin with a bed of ricotta gnocchi, artichoke and tomato. Ordered Medium rare (plus) – was prepared a tad under the specified temperature and was a bit chewy. Surprising, seeing the sirloin is usually quite tender. It was seasoned well, and flavor was robust pairing well the flavor of the gnocchi. My wife enjoyed the Linguine with steamed manila clams and a white wine-garlic sauce. She is not one for conflict and “enjoyed” her meal, while I felt the actual sauce (white wine garlic) was a bit on the salty side. Two bites were enough for me without calling for an additional bottle of water to save my palate.
After nearly 10 minutes of us into our entrees, side dishes appeared and not one apology from the server, nor manager. I was already a bit upset on the entire evening as a whole. Brining family and friends out to dinner should be a memorable experience. Memorable, yes. For the right reasons, not exactly. I had to accept the way the flow of service was going (on a slow night, mind you) bite my lip and be the critic. Presentation on both the cauliflower gratin and Asparagus were pleasant, however the cauliflower gratin lacked the flavor I was looking for. The extra salt used for the linguine would have done wonders here. Thankfully, you really can never go wrong with asparagus. The flavors melted well – as the prosciutto topping was a genuinely tasty compliment.