How Italy and Brazil do brunch; Restaurant Week goes semi-annual

The Grill at Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino is rather drab. That’s a pity, because it is so well located at the casino end of Restaurant Row at the Venetian. You might have walked by it and not stopped in. Don’t make that mistake again if it is Sunday Brunch time, because this may be the best brunch in Las Vegas.

James Beard Award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini has created a crackerjack brunch menu (10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., 414-3000) full of breakfast dishes such as wild boar sausage scramble with rustic potato napoleon and smoked salmon omelet, while his pastry chef, Alessandro Stoppa, turns out the best Danish pastry and muffins on the Strip.

If you want the brass ring, $39 brings you a three-course feast with a number of Italian specialties such as grandmother’s lasagna and lamb chops crusted with pistachio nuts. The bar mixes a mean bloody mary, too.

Speaking of brunch, for the next three Sundays, Samba Brazilian Steakhouse at The Mirage (791-7337) will be doing a special one to honor Rio de Janeiro’s famed Carnival, beginning at 10 a.m.

The price is $29.74 ($34.99 for nonresidents), and that includes a number of special dishes, such as guava French toast and mini-waffles with chili-scented maple syrup to go along with the restaurant’s usual variety of rodizio meats and side dishes.

Meanwhile, I’m sold on a product: Cookies Lamoure, done in a commercial kitchen by local baker Traci Usher. The cookies are named after those who have inspired Usher—the Sir Lancelot, a chocolate chunk coconut blend; “E.O.’s” Lemon Cooler, for her best friend, a lemon sugar cookie with a tangy lemon frosty, and “Top Dawg” a rich snickerdoodle. Find them for $2 apiece at Sambalatte (750 S. Rampart Blvd.), Nordstrom’s E Bar and online at

Some of my favorite places have opened new locations as well. Now there is a Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in the Forum Shops at Caesars and a Tacos El Gordo on the Strip. Grimaldi’s does coal-oven pies with a crackling thin crust that I can’t stop eating. Tacos El Gordo, a chain from Tijuana, Mexico, is famous for adobada, spicy pork sliced from a giant spit, then consumed with leeks, pickles and salsa on tortillas.

Finally, Three Square, a food bank dedicated to feeding the hungry in Southern Nevada, will hold its first Spring Restaurant Week from Feb. 27-March 4, with more than 70 participating restaurants Valley-wide, Bar + Bistro and RM Seafood being just two. The restaurants will offer menus at three price points: $20.12, $30.12 and $50.12. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit Three Square. See for more info.

Hungry, yet?