Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Off the Map: I Have the Perfect Buzz Right Now

Chicken Scarpariello -- Rao's, Las Vegas, NV

Believe it or not, despite or proclivity for eating, drinking, and generally doing nothing, we are not the biggest fans of Las Vegas.  Ginger, who has only been to Sin City once, warned Vodka upon her first journey to the place, "I hope your Vegas experience is better than mine.  I lost a shoe, my dignity, and a perfectly good club sandwich."
Needless to Say, Vodka Inquired About the Club Sandwich First
Vodka has ventured to Sin City with her two friends, Chianti and Bloody Mary, who have taken part in quite a few Best Thing I Ever Ate dining experiences previously (in Seattle and Baltimore, respectively).  With both of them having already been to Las Vegas multiples times, Vodka has the unusual position of not being in charge, a status she is trying to embrace with varying effect.
On This Episode of "Control Freak Goes to Vegas"...
After a full day mostly consisting of Vodka trying to dart out of the sun, the three of us have descended on Rao's, the one Vegas locale Vodka was most insistent on going to, being that getting into the New York version of the establishment is all but impossible.  We are here to eat Anne Burrell's Best Thing I Ever Ate LAS VEGAS choice of the chicken scarpariello, though if Vodka doesn't get some pasta on her plate and fast, there is going to be a revolt.
A La Throwing the Picture Frames Off the Wall One by One
We are led to a booth in the back of the restaurant, which features a fireplace inexplicably decked out with Christmas decorations.
Deck the Halls?
The whole room is decidedly reminiscent of the Northeast, which as three native Jersey girls, we find pleasing in most respects, save for the haunted-house-type dim lighting.
Degree of Lighting (or Lack Thereof) Is Accurate
First things first, it is time for a cocktail, and Vodka chooses the East 114th, primarily because it features bourbon, which ever since her trip to Louisville, has become her liquor of choice.
Bourbon O'Clock
Bloody Mary picks the All in the Family, and Chianti, the Sin City.  When the drinks arrive, we are rather unimpressed, as thanks to their accompanying plastic straws, they all have the decided look of something one could get for free at the blackjack table.
Would It Kill Them to Give Us Some Martini Glasses?
That said, they are pleasing enough, as a half hour later, Bloody Mary, without warning, announces, "I have the perfect buzz right now.  Remind me of this moment when I'm throwing up later."
Time to Soak Up Some Booze with Bread
For food, we choose to share the fried green tomato and mozzarella appetizer special, plus the pasta shells, ravioli purses, eggplant parmesan, and chicken scarpariello.  The appetizer -- along with the bread basket -- is good, if mostly due to the fact that we are starving.
Southern Living Via NYC Via Las Vegas
Both of the pastas are similarly tasty -- well-cooked and al dente, and we enjoy the fact that they are portioned onto our plates right in front of us (in other words, the less work we have to do, the better).
Noodles Are on Vodka's Plate, and All Is Right with the World
Family Style at a Very Controlling Hostess's House
The eggplant parmesan, however, is dry and rather tasteless, and by the end of the meal, 80% of it remains on its serving dish.
Color Us Unimpressed
In contrast, the chicken scarpariello -- a dish none of us would ever order (Chianti because she's a vegetarian, Bloody Mary because who goes out to eat and orders chicken, and Vodka because heaven forbid she go to an Italian restaurant and not get pasta) -- is a pleasant surprise.
If We Could See It, It Would Be an Even Better Surprise
The chicken itself, which is served on the bone, is extremely moist and flavorful, and the accompanying pickled peppers and sausage bring out its spicy and sour notes.
Finger Lickin' Good
While none of us have had this concoction before, we can only assume that it is the best possible version.
At Least the Best Version Served in Utter Darkness
We end the meal with macchiatos for Bloody Mary and Chianti, while going through the most complicated attempt to count how many states we have each been to of all time ("I counted 52 states.  We're done."  "There are 50 states.")
Needless to Say, Our School District Did Not Offer Geography
This trip to Nevada brings Vodka to a grand total of 20 states, and considering she's halfway through her Vegas vacation and still has both shoes on her feet, thus far, it seems a marked improvement over Ginger's Sin City adventure.  That is, if she doesn't lose any stray club sandwiches along the way.

Rao's Chicken Scarpariello: 4 stars

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