If critics wrote obituaries for restaurants, a long list of Las Vegas writers would have penned emotional odes of regret that they had not eaten more often at Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas. That’s the way the mind works when a chef we truly appreciate is taken from us in a flash.
But here’s a news flash: Chef Paul Bartolotta wasn’t ever in the kitchen that much. He was there so little, in fact, that he left this seafood gem long ago.
Which is why its easy to welcome Mark LoRusso as the new chef, whose rechristened the space Costa di Mare, chased away Bartolotta’s ghosts, and launched a seafood menu that embraces the past while introducing plenty that is all his own. He’s in the kitchen every day, setting the course, trimming the sails, spotting the whales.
When Bartolotta Ristorante opened, the culinary community was beside themselves that someone on the Las Vegas Strip had finally embraced the concept of sourcing impeccably fresh fish from the Mediterranean. Though Bartollota is gone, LoRusso adheres to the same commitment. Same quality of purveyors, same focus on seafood, same commitment to serving customers the best meal. With LoRusso in charge, Costa di Mare has set Costa di Mare on a delicious course.
Costa Di Mare at Wynn Las VegasWynn Las Vegas3131 S Las Vegas BlvdLas Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: (702) 770-3305
Cuisine: Seafood Fine dining
Price Range: expensive
Attire: Business Casual
Nightly 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
What You Should Come to Expect at Costa Di Mare
The setting is elegant. The customer service is attentive yet not obtrusive. The atmosphere is romantic, luxurious and soothing. Imagine Jackie O on a sailboat. Picture that in your head and convert that class to a restaurant. Costa Di Mare just feels good.
The Food at Costa Di Mare
The elephant in the room is that former chef Paul Bartolotta is no longer in the kitchen. That is true, but you have to know that the staff at this gem of a restaurant is largely the same. As in they kept the people who had made it a real favorite for plenty after the chef left. The menu is relatively the same as they have tried to accommodate the loyalty that the Wynn brand commands by holding on to some favorite and popular dishes. So, expect Spaghetti with Lobster, Charcoal-Grilled Crustaceans, Linguine & Clams, Seafood Risotto, Whole Oven-Roasted Fish but prepare yourself for some new favorites.
Make room on your palate for Chitarra Pasta with Sea Urchin & Crab, Cuttlefish-Ink Tagliatelle with Shrimp, Sundried Tomato & Spinach, Sea Scallops with Fennel Puree & Blood Orange Segments because the kitchen is about to convert you. The quality of the ingredients is still the same. That bar was not lowered. The presentation and execution might have taken a bit more of a modern route but perhaps that is what was necessary.
What You Should Try at Costa Di Mare
- Spaghetti and Lobster. This is a dish that makes you weep with happiness as the tomato sauce practically makes the lobster dance on to your tongue. It is a classic and a must-have if you are trying Costa for the first time.
- Pasta with Sea Urchin. The world is a better place because of sea urchin. Yes, I know that it harms the forests of sea kelp but when you crack open that shell and scoop up that lovely, briny, texturally challenged mass of happiness it can alter your taste sensations. This pasta explodes with flavor as the urchin caresses every little bit of flavor for your own personal satisfaction.
- Rombo Chiodato (turbot) Once the whole fish makes it’s way to your table you know that you’ll be happy. It’s hand carved right in front of you and then it packs away so much flavor that each bite is almost sensual. As if on cue the fish falls apart in your mouth and envelopes you. For me, it takes me away to a morning on the ocean.
I must note that I talked to plenty of food professionals about Costa Di Mare over the last few weeks, writers, chefs and servers who all loved the former restaurant helmed by Paul Bartolotta. Loyal friends of the chef and restaurant each had reservations about what they would find at the new incarnation. Some could not get past the name change while others were embarrassed to say that much of the old charm was not only there but had been improved upon. What I did find is that much of what made this restaurant great has been retained and the hard work made by the staff today will eventually win back those loyalists.