What do you say about a man who can butcher a pig, create wonderful pasta dishes and manage three terrific restaurants at the same time? That’s the M.O. of Zach Allen, whose lofty title is culinary director for Mario Batali’s Las Vegas restaurants. As such, Allen is the man responsible for the excellent cuisine served at the three Batali venues in the Venetian and adjoining Palazzo. He constantly walks the floors between his three restaurants, and like a shark, rarely stops moving.
Allen, a native of Spokane, Wash., attended Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. (famous for having produced Emeril Lagasse) and did stages in Paris and New York before signing on with Batali’s empire 11 years ago. Starting humbly as a garde-manger, he worked his way through all the stations, clear up to his current position.
That’s Allen you’ll see at those Vegas culinary events, whipping up salumi (various cold cuts) from scratch. At latest count, he can do between 35 and 50, including the amazing braised, pressed pork delight known as ciccoli. His beef at Carnevino, sourced from 17 different farms, is grass-fed, corn-finished and aged between 50 and 80 days. If you haven’t had one of these steaks, they are amazing, requiring nothing more from the kitchen than olive oil and salt.
His love for rich, meaty foods extends to black spaghetti with nduja—a spicy meat paste from Calabria—served at B&B, octopus salad with arugula at Otto, and a heady spaghetti with lamb ragu at Carnevino.
You can also find Allen every Thursday at Mario Batali’s Molto Vegas Farmers Market, 7485 S. Dean Martin Drive, Suite 106. “The Great One” couldn’t imagine running things here without him.