Lovers of southern Italian cuisine will take delight in zucchini flowers with sweet ricotta, pistachio pesto and amoretti, ricotta gnocchi Sorrentina with blistered tomatoes and aged parm, braised meats and seafood and a vast antipasto bar when Salute Trattoria Italiana debuts in the former Terra Rossa space at Red Rock Resort.
The story behind Salute (meaning “to your health” in Italian) starts and ends with a passion for great Italian food. “A couple of years ago I ran into [Station Casinos owner] Frank Fertitta in Capri,” says Clique Hospitality’s Andy Masi, founder and former CEO of The Light Group. “I’d show up at a restaurant, and he would show up at a restaurant. We started talking about Italian restaurants here in Vegas and restaurants and dishes that we both had in common in Italy.”
Such a specific cuisine needs just the right chef, and Masi says he had a person in mind from the beginning. “I worked with Luciano Sautto for years down in Miami—he was the chef at the Delano. He’s from Naples. So when we started talking about all these different restaurants, he knew them as well. So we said, let’s make this happen. Find these really incredible dishes that aren’t being served here in Vegas, the style of eating, and bring it to Summerlin.”
Sautto promises a menu of classic pastas with accoutrements such as roasted eggplant and simple tomato sauce. “Nothing with a heavy gravy,” he says. “All the pasta will be homemade and fresh, the rigatoni, penne, linguine, spaghetti.” A third-generation pizza maker, he says there will be bountiful amounts of fresh focaccia bread on the tables and he will be using a wood-burning oven for possibly two special pizzas.
With menu development top of mind, Masi and Sautto were preparing to embark on a research mission to Italy when I spoke with them. “Brian [Massie]; Luciano; our pizza guy [and Luciano’s brother] Enrico; and Shane [Monaco] … we’re going to do all those restaurants I talked about in Amalfi,” he says.
According to Sautto, Salute’s menu is 75 percent complete and the trip will help reconfirm some of the choices and be a chance for him to show his business partners the cuisine through the lens of its origin. “It’s sometimes impossible to explain a dish,” Masi says. “We actually take everybody there and we are eating the food, and breaking down what’s inside of it, what’s made out of, how it’s cooked … that’s pretty fun. I’ve been going there for 17 years every summer. Now it’s really fun to come back with chefs, fully armed.”
Masi is confident that the market has enough bandwidth to accommodate another restaurant alongside his uber-successful Hearthstone, also at Red Rock Resort.
“They’re completely different styles of food. You have Hearthstone, which is rustic and American, really kind of a fun causal place, but Salute is going to be an awesomely traditional Italian restaurant. I think they’re completely different products, different vibes to them, and with everything that’s happening in Summerlin, I think it’s great to have different options. Las Vegas locals get food. They realize they don’t want to drive down to the Strip for it everyday.”
Under the boutique hospitality company Clique, Masi and partners Monaco and Massie will open eight restaurants and lounges throughout California and Nevada over the next 18 months.
Clique and Salute are offering a special contest to win a trip for two to Italy. For more details and to track the adventures of the guys as they search for the perfect Italian dish follow @salutevegas at #amalficoastgiveaway.