Hexx Kitchen + Bar meets the criteria for street-level dining on the Strip: open air, with plenty of opportunity for people-watching (and Fountains of Bellagio–watching, at that). What you don’t necessarily think of is an on-site chocolate factory, sophisticated cocktails and a summer dinner menu under the direction of new executive chef Carlos Buscaglia. Best known locally as the co-creator and executive chef of Due Forni Pizza & Wine on the west side of town, Buscaglia showcases his knowledge of traditional Italian and American cuisines with Hexx’s new menu items.
Appetizers include casual bites with a twist. Pork rinds are topped with basil, mint, pickled Fresno peppers and a squirt of lime vinaigrette. Buffalo calamari is delicately fried, tossed in a classic Buffalo sauce and served with slivers of celery and carrot and drizzled with ranch. And nestled between those dishes are roasted beets with pistachio yogurt puree, feta cheese and candied quinoa crackers, garnished with pea greens.
A vegetable pizza, topped with roasted broccolini and Brussels sprouts, leads the entrée selection. Rather than a traditional tomato sauce, Buscaglia’s team layers the thin crust with a sweet and mild butternut puree and harissa (a chili pepper paste popular in Tunisian cuisine) sauce and fresh mozzarella. The gnocchi comes with fresh peas and herbs in a white-wine butter sauce made with garlic and shallots, and features melt-in-your mouth lobster and smoked pork belly. The gemelli pasta, with a bolognese sauce made with a blend of beef, veal, wild boar and pork and generously topped with burrata and fresh basil, is a standout.
“I wanted to go with more of an American style. For instance, to the bolognese I added a little bit of barbecue spice,” Buscaglia says. “The gnocchi is a play on the carbonara—instead of pancetta, I used smoked Nueske’s bacon from Wisconsin.”
By switching out traditional ingredients for flavors familiar to the locale, the chef builds a bridge between Italian and American palates. Smoked onion puree—layered beneath cooked spinach, heirloom carrots and scallops sprinkled with crispy Benton’s ham—is a variation of bacon-wrapped scallops. Squid ink black quinoa risotto with wild mushrooms and sweet peas adds shock value to succulent King Salmon with a seasoned crust and crispy garlic gremolata on top. Each new dish keeps diners on their toes while enticing them with tastes they already know and love.
To complement chef Carlos Buscaglia’s new menu items, Hexx bar manager Armando Conway serves up a couple cocktails that sticks with the old-meets-new motif. Piled high with shaved ice to evoke summertime snow cones is the Blackberry Bramble, composed of Bulldog gin, Briottet Crème de Mure and Sweet & Sour.
The Alexxa’s Rickey, slated to hit Hexx’s bar and dining room tables in July, is a cross between a classic Rickey/Eastside and raspado (a Mexican shaved-ice treat flavored with fruit syrups), made of of Absolut Elyx vodka, Liquid alchemist Orgeat, fresh lime juice, Aztec Chocolate bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters, cucumber and mint.