Another tasty Epicurean Affair, new N9NE dishes, and a good Slice of Vegas

Dare I say it? The Epicurean Affair at the Palazzo’s Azure Luxury Pool is my favorite of local food events. This year’s version, featuring about 75 venues and 1,800 paying guests, was a huge success by my lights.

First of all, there weren’t too many sliders, and ones that I tried were superb: a terrific short-rib slider on a house-baked sesame bun by Bouchon, and a Wagyu beef slider by STK from the Cosmopolitan.

Secondly, this might be the most generous festival in terms of libations, an endless parade of mango margaritas, specialty cocktails by Southern Wine & Spirits, a Wirtz Beverage booth and drinks by participating restaurants. All three pools were open, and there was live entertainment, including jugglers and dancers. At $100 for general admission and $150 for VIP admission, it’s one of our city’s best deals.

I stopped by N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms to check out dishes recently added to the menu by executive chef Barry Dakake and came away impressed by his talent and creativity, as usual. I enjoyed the pepper-crusted sirloin carpaccio, paired with a quail-egg-topped steak tartare, that was as light as a feather, as well as the Berkshire pork chop over creamy polenta with oven-roasted tomatoes and a red-wine reduction. For dessert, there were zeppole—little Italian-style sugar donuts from the chef’s hometown of Providence, R.I.—with two dipping sauces, chocolate and caramel.

N9NE, incidentally, finally caved and is now doing a 35-day dry-aged Prime bone-in rib-eye, an 18-ounce beauty. The restaurant held out for wet-aged beef for many years, but in the end, the customer always has his way. Call 933-9900 for a reservation.

Finally, the new Slice of Vegas at Mandalay Place has many items I recommend trying, even if I find its pizza dough on the bready side. It has one of the best marinara sauces in town, nice pork, beef and veal meatballs, an excellent lasagna, and large, tasty salads.

Not that this pizza is bad. I tried one of their specialties, Il Mangino, and the toppings (grilled red onion, ricotta, prosciutto and arugula) are delicious. And there are more doughnuts for dessert, unfortunately named the Sack of Dough Balls, served in a brown paper bag, but nonetheless delicious with a chocolate-hazelnut and sea-salt dipping sauce.

Hungry, yet?

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