Estiatorio Milos. Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Five Restaurants Bringing the Ocean to the Desert

How our seafood arrives to our plates.

We humans like seafood. Feasting on crustaceans, bivalves and fish has long been a way of life. But being near the coastline isn’t requisite for savoring a maritime experience these days. In the middle of the desert, Las Vegas delivers a seafood feast, relying on skilled fishermen from all parts of the globe to reel in the beloved flavors of the ocean. Here is where to get the best of the deep blue sea.

Costa di Mare

Wynn Las Vegas

Mark LoRusso crafts a luxurious menu with hard-to-find breeds of fish and shellfish from all around the Italian coastline. Costa di Mare enlists 75 fishermen to deliver the freshest seafood several times per week. Seafood travel and preparation falls within a 48–72 hour  window from catch to plate. The concept is line-caught fish—no nets, and completely sustainable. “It’s  paramount to us that we showcase just how beautiful and fresh these products are,” LoRusso says. “For instance, there’s the Cicala di Mare, a big flat, prehistoric lobster whose flesh is even more refined than a lobster. They react to pollution, so they live in only pristine waters. The Italian government restricts their catch to a two-and-a-half-month season. So when July hits, they’re done!” Costa di Mare also boasts a live crustacean program, claiming it is the only restaurant in the U.S. that maintains live langoustine in an environment they can thrive in.

LoRusso was recently at the famed James Beard House, and he’s re-created that menu at Costa Di Mare, featuring a crudo plate of cuttlefish, prawns, purple snapper and Sicilian amberjack; butter-poached Imperial langoustine with spring peas; Ligurian grilled octopus with crispy potatoes and olive oil–poached fennel; line-caught turbot from the Venetian coast with butter-poached leeks and Osetra caviar; and red mullet from Sardinia with risotto, mussels and bottarga (salted-cured mullet roe).

Photo by Krystal Ramirez

Herringbone

Aria

Chef Geno Bernardo, an East Coast native, was once a fisherman. And as fishermen do, Herringbone follows the season with its seafood menu. Herringbone’s classic dishes include tuna poke with Maui onions, shoyu and toasted macadamia nuts, and the Dinghy—a selection of oysters, Alaskan king crab, Maine lobster and jumbo shrimp. Oysters—sourced from Virginia, Maine, Baja California and coastal Canada—are the gems at Herringbone. Try Canadian Pink Moons, Washington’s Little Hoodlum or Capitol Oysters. Discovering  such a selection will tempt you to exclaim, “Oh, shucks!”

Chef Rick Moonen encourages seafood lovers to eat lower on the food chain (think anchovies and sardines) and to try fish they might not have heard of before.

Sen of  Japan

8480 W. Desert Inn Rd.

In the vast ocean, one might say we leave it up to the line to bring in the jewels from the deep blue. In Japanese dining, omakase would be analogous to this—diners leave it up to the chef to prepare a series of small, delicious dishes comprising pristine cuts of fish from the day’s freshest selections. Chefs and owners Hiro Nakano and Shinji Shichiri deliver an experience that lures the adventurous to come back for more, as no two omakase experiences are the same. Offerings may include sashimi salad of four different fishes presented with garlic olive oil and capers; poached lobster from Maine with spicy lemongrass dressing and sun-dried beets topped with micro arugula and cherry tomatoes; Alaskan black cod soy topped with foie gras, flash-fried shishito pepper, wasabi aioli and crushed red peppercorns; and assorted nigiri ranging from bluefin tuna from Spain, fresh scallop with spicy lime dressing and lightly seared Tasmanian ocean trout with fresh garlic spicy ponzu. These delicacies look almost too pretty to eat, but savoring the gifts of the chef is the honorable thing to do. Fish is brought into Sen of Japan six days a week from all over the world and is never frozen.

Photos by Krystal Ramirez

Estiatorio Milos

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Costas Spiliadis’ restaurants demonstrate a great commitment to serving the freshest fish with the help of close relations with fishermen who work the seas around the Greek islands. The dining experience at Milos begins with a tour of the fish-market offerings that are flown in seven days a week from Greece. They are kept on ice in an attractive display until selected for a table. The quality and type of fish vary from day to day, depending on the season. The Barbouni (red mullet) is best served pan-fried with Kytherian sea salt and fresh Greek oregano. Lithrini (Spanish sea bream) enjoys the best preparation as a whole-fish sashimi, served with a different preparation on each side. Not to be missed is Greek Lavraki (Mediterranean sea bass), steamed and crusted with sea salt. The captains serve it tableside with Santorini capers, Ladolemono (Greek vinaigrette) and chopped parsley.

Photos by Krystal Ramirez

RM Seafood

Mandalay Bay

Chef Rick Moonen is the consummate advocate of a healthy ocean and responsible eating. His guests enjoy thoughtfully prepared seafood, whole fish, sushi and a wide selection of eco-friendly options flown in six days a week that illustrate his commitment to sustainable seafood. The restaurant uses anywhere from five to 10 different species each day. For example, Amberjack comes from Hawaii, Icelandic cod is line-caught from European waters, and white gulf shrimp comes from the Gulf of Mexico.

Moonen encourages seafood lovers to eat lower on the food chain (think anchovies and sardines) and to try fish they might not have heard of before. A good one to start with is the Boquerones—marinated Spanish anchovies with tomato relish, olive tapenade, baby spinach and a hard-boiled egg, served with grilled bread. Other signature seafood dishes include charred Spanish octopus and dashi-poached True North salmon farm-raised in the Gulf of Maine, with leek orzo, baby bok choy and miso butter sauce.

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