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Chefs + Restaurants

First Taste: Carnevino

Carne Vino

The latest addition to the Mario Batali-Joe Bastianich restaurant empire is Carnevino, an “Italian steakhouse” set in the so-new-the-paint-is-still-drying Palazzo Hotel, a gonzo, two-billion-dollar addition to the Vegas Strip.

Everyone from Wolfgang Puck to Charlie Trotter to Jay-Z is scheduled to open a restaurant in the hotel (well, fine, Jay-Z’s is technically a club), but Carnevino is one of four that opened its doors when the Palazzo did last month, and the restaurant’s cream-colored walls, high ceilings, and crisp white tablecloths make for a welcome reprieve from the chaos of the casino’s slots. The menu has all the hearty Italian fare you’d expect, including a rich ricotta-and-egg-filled raviolo with brown butter, and superlative cured meats courtesy of Mario’s dad and his Seattle-based Salumi.

But let’s be honest: There’s a giant bull statue in the restaurant’s main dining room for a reason. If you don’t get the beef here, you’re making a big mistake—because this is some serious meat.

The restaurant’s beef program is run by Adam Perry Lang, who left his post at Robert’s Steakhouse in Manhattan for the gig. (During Lang’s tenure, Frank Bruni of the New York Times said that Robert’s boasted “some of the very best steaks in New York City,” in spite of the fact that the place is literally in the middle of a strip club.) And though Lang is still on board at his other New York venture—Daisy May’s BBQ—his devotion to Carnevino’s carne, from the raising to the aging to the cooking, is almost fanatical.

The steaks themselves get nothing more than a shot of olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary before hitting the grill, and they are truly outstanding. But be warned: the quality comes as a cost. A porterhouse for two clocks in at $160 (the ribeye is $10 less). Though, for your money, this is as close as you’ll get to a sure thing—and that’s saying something in Vegas.

Carnevino The Palazzo Hotel, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV (702-789-4141; carnevino.com)