Wednesday, March 18, 2009 | 4:35 p.m.
Saturday, February 28 was an important night for the Vegas medical community and the food world, when the Keep Memory Alive foundation welcomed the Cleveland Clinic to Las Vegas for "One Time, One Cause," the annual benefit for the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Siegfried and Roy made an amazing, unforgettable appearance.
Chefs Wolfgang Puck, David Robins, Eric Klein and Todd English wowed the guests with fare such as Puck's chilled Maryland blue crab salad with basil pistou, and English's slow & low braised short ribs with truffled celery root puree and Hudson Valley foie gras broth, crispy, confit, pearl onions, mustard greens and pistachio crumble. Whew! Master of Ceremonies Robin Leach lent his golden throat to the proceeding, which raised $12 million for the Center.
Anyone looking for great cheap eats need look no further than Crazy Pita, a rotisserie and grill located in The District at Green Valley Ranch in Henderson. 896-7482. Owner Mehdi Zarhloul is a native of Morocco, and his Moroccan chicken, crisp skinned and all preserved lemon and spice, may be the most delicious bird in the city.
Pitas come stuffed with grilled and seasoned meats, or delightful vegetarian fillings such as felafel, roasted eggplant dip with cauliflower and peppers, or shrimp. Weekends Crazy Pita serves lamb shank with couscous, and the chicken lentil soup, served daily, is alone worth the trip.
For more upscale Italian fare, you can't do much better than what Valentino, the swank Italian restaurant in the Venetian, is offering. Forty-nine dollars gets you a prix fixe menu starting with a choice of appetizers, such as duck crespelle (crepes) or rucola e mele, wild arugula, grilled apple, toasted walnut and caprino cheese salad.
From there, move on to entrees like Ligurian style veal casserole, branzino, or grilled seabass and lamb ossobuco. Finish with a choice of desserts, say, almond panna cotta, or assorted gelati. Valentino also has one of the world's great wine lists, which was given a Grand Award by Wine Spectator Magazine. The phone number here is 414-3000.
Or perhaps you'd prefer to cook your own Italian dinner. Well, you're in luck. The Henderson restaurant Carmine's on the Hill is offering its first-ever cooking class, on March 25 at 6 p.m. For $30 per person, learn to cook classic Italian dishes from the sure hand of the restaurant's chef, Hercules Mantel. More info can be had at 252-7474
Max Jacobson is the principal food columnist in the Las Vegas Weekly, and a Food and Wine Journalist for Vegas Magazine. He can be reached at 702-990-2454 or [email protected].