Thursday, February 18, 2010

From Vegas with love: Part 3

AV's birthday was the weekend we left for Vegas, so we postponed our "official" birthday dinner celebration until we had arrived. Monday night, then, we set off to a surprise location in MGM Grand to celebrate.

Our destination: Fiamma. There used to be a highly acclaimed outpost of Fiamma in Manhattan, but it closed within the last year or so. Nonetheless, I applied the restaurant's reputation for stellar Italian food to the Vegas version, and I wasn't disappointed.

The restaurant itself is pure Vegas-- all dark colors and decorative, swooping fixtures. Sexy and smoky and intriguing, even early in the evening. We started with drinks, a glass of bubbly for me and a stiff cocktail for AV. Celebration commence!

We started with bread. Each table got its own fresh-baked loaf, presented on a minimalist wooden plank. It was the kind of bread with which you just want to stuff your face endlessly-- warm and carby, soft in the middle with a yielding crust. The olive oil was peppery and herbal. We ate and ate.

Yes please.

We only interrupted our carb consumption to transition to the entrees. AV went with the spaghetti with kobe meatballs and San Marzano pomodoro sauce. It's important to note that AV comes from one of those blessed backgrounds wherein he has fond memories of his parents' cooking-- specifically, his dad's homemade meatballs. While no meatballs could ever top Dad's version, he conceded that Fiamma's were "special." Topped with plenty of freshly greated parm, how could anyone go wrong?

That's'a meatball

My choice was the burrata. It came in a small dish on a bed of tomato sauce and pesto. Strangely, the tomato/pesto mixture tasted off-- metallic and weird. But the cheese itself was spectacular, soft and yielding and impossibly creamy. I ate the cheese and the crostino and left the rest.

Good cheese

Dessert time! AV almost skipped dessert but at the last minute was seduced by the tavoletta di cioccolatto, a triple chocolate cake . I'm glad he went for it, since it gave the restaurant a chance to inscribe the requisite birthday message and provide his candle. Phew. My head was a little fuzzy from the champagne, but I recall that my tastes of this dessert were intensely chocolatey and delicious.

Birthday cake!

My choice was the tartufo, with dolce di latte gelato, caramelized hazelnuts, and chocolate sauce. I pretty much dove face-first into this dessert, which was absolutely decadent with the blanket of chocolate sauce poured over the ice cream at the table. The chocolate thickened a bit after sitting on the cold gelato, kind of like Magic Shell. Om nom nom nom.

There's gelato under there

We were both stuffed, but we finished the evening with two complimentary rum caramel chocolates. These were surprising little buggers, with a strong hit of rum at the end. But, of course, delicious.


So there you have it, a successful birthday dinner on the books. It's worth noting that unlike many of Vegas's top restaurants, Fiamma allows a la carte ordering rather than boxing you in to a prix fixe menu, which I value quite a bit. I'd definitely recommend Fiamma if you're looking for a classy Italian Vegas splurge.

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