Tucked within Rose.Rabbit.Lie. (in the Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7440, CosmopolitanLasVegas.com) is a swanky enclave where chef de cuisine Dan Rossi’s dishes put a twist on standards for cocktail and food enthusiasts. Experiencing the chef’s offerings in The Study is like watching a changeup pitch; coming in from a fast-paced city, your senses slow to capture the finer details of Rossi’s eclectic creations. Take the wagyu steak tartare, for example. It’s served with chicharrones made from beef (as opposed to the more common pork), and it takes a complicated and lengthy 18-plus-hour process to make the “puff” just right. Eat it slowly and savor the crackle of each air bubble. The dessert that follows transported me straight to Yosemite’s Tuolumne Meadows. Campfire S’mores—a treat that literally tantalizes all five senses—arrives in a cloche which, when lifted, releases aromas of hickory smoke throughout the room. It’s made with luscious chocolate crémeux and topped with toasted marshmallow meringue on a sprinkle of not-your-ordinary graham cracker crumbs. Just close your eyes and think: giant sequoias. Be sure to ask Marcus Lehner at the bar to create a coffee martini (not on the menu) sprinkled with dark chocolate shavings, for the perfect pairing.
Going from hidden and tucked away to glass windows and 64 stories high, chef Bruno Riou has just returned from visiting Saint Tropez and he has brought back an item to serve at Rivea (in the Delano, 702-632-9500, DelanoLasVegas.com). Riou’s lobster risotto is course two in the five-course tasting menu, Tour of the Riviera, which takes you on a culinary tour through the coastal towns of Italy and France. Describing risotto as a rich rice stew would be accurate, but more than that, it encompasses complementary and opposing textures—both creamy and al dente—and together with the flavors of the sea, it also teases with a beautiful, briny aroma. To lighten up this dish, it is served with a cocktail made with Champagne Alain Ducasse, pear liqueur, verjus blanc and demerara sugar.
Finally, for off-Strip eating, the linguini and meatballs dish at Public School 702 (Downtown Summerlin, 1850 Festival Plaza Dr., 702-749-3007) is new to the summer menu. These meatballs are a perfect blend of pork shoulder and Angus beef perched atop ribbons of noodles that are good for soaking up the “angry” arrabiata sauce. Also on the summer menu is a refreshing watermelon salad, with generous cuts of multicolor watermelon, tomato, fine feta shavings and aceto balsamico. It’s a yummy cool-down as we move into August.