Eat Like an Italian, Be a Sucker for Octopus

Kieran Toivonen and Luciano Pellegrini

Kieran Toivonen and Luciano Pellegrini

Wonder where James Beard Award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini has been since Valentino closed its doors last November? He’s in town, laying low, and making gelato apparently, but he’ll resurface June 5 for the inaugural Nove Italiano guest series dinner ($105, in the Palms, 702-942-6800, with Nove’s chef de cucina, Kieran Toivonen. The meal begins with passed appetizers on the restaurant’s mezzanine before guests sit down to four courses from both chefs. Toivonen presents grilled quail agrodolce (that’s sweet and sour, if your Italian is a little rusty) and lamb ossobucco, while Pellegrini features rustic yet spectacular grilled sardines over cannellini beans, and veal Saltimbocca. The Italian feast finishes up with a taste of Pellegrini’s gelato, Dolce Vita. If you can’t make it to the June dinner, mixologist Francesco Lafranconi joins the party July 10 with cocktails to pair with Toivonen’s menu ($110), and a beer partner will be announced for September 14 ($165).

Meanwhile, for whatever reason, I’ve been on a cephalopod-kick lately, eating just about everything with a tentacle in sight. So that means lots of calamari shout out to the Thai-inspired version in a beer batter from DB Brasserie—and tako nigiri. What I’m still dreaming about is the grilled octopus from Botero (in Wynn, 702-770-3463, served with chorizo, fingerling potatoes and pleasantly bitter broccoli rabe, all atop a luscious romesco sauce. A nice departure from the classic Mediterranean warm octopus and potato salad, this dish goes deep with its flavors.