Transcendental jerky, real Boston pizza and the Cosmo lineup

John Schenk, corporate chef at Strip House in Planet Hollywood, makes a smoked bacon appetizer so good it should be illegal. Now he’s doing the same thing for beef jerky.

Schenk’s beef jerky, served as an appetizer for $11 with tomato, fried onions and the house steak sauce, is prime meat that has been tossed with oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice and a dozen-odd spices, then marinated for 24 hours and dried out in a 200-degree oven for 16 minutes before being fried to order. It’s truly transcendental.

I grew up in Boston, a city that practically lives on submarines and pizza, so when I heard about North End Pizza (6440 N. Durango Road, 645-9006) I decided to make the pilgrimage from Green Valley.

It’s hard to differentiate Boston pizza from its counterparts in the Big Apple or New Haven, Conn. Boston has a large southern Italian population, a mix of Sicily, Calabria and Naples, and the pizza there tends to be thin crust, gooey in the middle and wetter with marinara than in New York.

It’s a long way for a pizza, but I wasn’t disappointed (although they overdo it with the Meat Lover’s pizza, which has a carpet of bacon, meatballs, pepperoni and sausage). We also had one of the best calzones in the city at North End, the Italiano. Calzone means “large sock,” and this one was flat, chewy and delicious, with a generous Italian cold cut and provolone filling.

Finally, everyone is abuzz about the Cosmopolitan and its lineup of chic, high-end restaurants. Come Dec. 15, the wait is over. Here is the final list of new places slated to open. Better reserve early.

Holsteins, an exciting new burger featuring specialty burgers, house-made sausage and riffs on traditional American snacks.

Jaleo, the western branch of José Andrés’ award-winning Spanish restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Scarpetta, chef Scott Conant’s seasonally inspired Italian fare from Lower Manhattan.

STK, a sexy Big Apple steak house that is already a hit in Miami and Los Angeles.

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill, with bistro favorites, American comfort foods, chops, sushi and sashimi.

China Poblano, a new Chinese-and-Mexican concept from Washington, D.C., chef José Andrés.

Comme Ça, a modern French brasserie by L.A.-based chef David Myers.

D.O.C.G., a wine bar from New York star chef Scott Conant.

Estiatorio Milos, which brings upscale Greek food to the Strip by way of Montreal and New York.

Hungry, yet?

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One of Rick Moonen’s spectacular dishes is this fish, line-caught from Alaska and lightly roasted with butter and topped with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. It is served with a carrot-cardamom purée, celery root and shaved heirloom carrots—all seasonal ingredients that give this dish an autumn flavor. $33, Mandalay Place, 632-9300.