Chef Joel Ott leads an ambitious charge of culinary offerings and events at the luxury boutique hotel…
If you’ve been following Vegas Unfiltered at V411, you know that this writer is completely biased. When something’s unworthy of your time, I’ll tell you. And if it deserves a place on your to-do list, this is the column to learn about it. That’s why I’m again covering Ahern Hotel, the city’s best-kept secret.
Late last year, ambitious Chef Joel Ott took over operations at the former Trattoria by Chef Marc. Already a major guiding force behind the scenes, Ott replaced Marc Sgrizzi as the titular chef at Ahern’s signature restaurant. And now, as Executive Chef at Ahern, he has transformed the spot into his own vision of an authentic Italian dining experience.
Sgrizzi (right) is out, Ott is in…
The details of Sgrizzi’s departure remain vague but aren’t necessarily relevant to the hotel’s future offerings. What’s important is that Chef Ott’s mission is to continue pleasing established patrons while expanding the concept with his own recipes and approach.
After Sgrizzi left, the restaurant was temporarily rebranded to Trattoria by Chef Joel. It has since been reborn as Ottimo Pizza Kitchen. With Ott in charge, the former Chef Mark’s Italian Steakhouse has been renamed Joel’s Chophouse. It’s currently eyeing a debut later in the year. More on that in part two of this piece.
Ottimo Pizza Kitchen builds on the popularity of Sgrizzi’s, an adjacent pizza outlet with a small but rabid following (especially from our colleague Scott Roeben of Vital Vegas). And since Roeben appears to be a pizza connoisseur, that’s high praise.
If there’s one thing that Vegas residents and visitors can agree on, it’s a passion for pizza. So yeah…bring on the pies. With pizza as the new focus, Chef Joel invested in a massive Marra Forni oven. He’s also created a concept that still provides elevated dining…but with a lighter atmosphere and a broader range of choices.
The interior of the restaurant has been updated to include a full-service bar. There are nine specialty cocktails, a variety of unique craft beers, and a lengthy list of reasonably-priced wines by the glass or bottle. Every Thursday, wine flights are priced at 30 percent off:
“Our unique wine flights have been carefully chosen and include some of the most popular wines in Ottimo’s extensive wine cellar. Select one of three regions — California, France, or Italy — and take your dining experience to the next level.”
Until Joel’s Chophouse comes online, Ottimo is featuring a 2-for-1 Sunday Steak Special:
“Each dinner features a 14-ounce herb-crusted Greater Omaha Prime NY Steak expertly cooked to your preferred temperature and served with garlic smashed potatoes for $65.”
Along with pizzas, pasta, and calzones, the dinner selections include Chicken Parmesan, Scottish Salmon, Mediterranean Branzino (European sea bass), and an herb-crusted Duroc Pork Chop. Hearty salads, Wedding Soup, Charred Octopus, and Grilled Italian Sausage will compete with several styles of Finger-Lickin’ Chicken for your attention.
Ottimo Pizza Kitchen continues to serve the city’s best breakfast specials, lunch, and an amazing weekend brunch by “Master of Brunch” Chef Bruno Morabito. You can view all menus by clicking here.
Two weekends ago, Chef Joel took some of his team to Westgate Las Vegas for a special event. The Cultural Diversity Foundation of Nevada was hosting its 26th Annual Educational Taste of Excellence. This year’s wine-tasting fundraiser featured over 100 domestic and imported wines. It also allowed local chefs the opportunity to showcase their latest and greatest creations.
Chef Joel’s dish of choice was “Ultimate BLT Bites” made with smoked pork belly and heirloom tomato. Ahern Hotel‘s head chef greeted guests and used the opportunity to spread the word about Ottimo Pizza Kitchen‘s upcoming launch.
Even though it’s already in operation, Ottimo Pizza Kitchen will make its official debut on May 6th and 7th with a special buffet event:
Be the first to experience Ottimo Pizza Kitchen at our official grand opening all-you-can-eat buffet! Join us on Saturday, May 6th, or Sunday, May 7th from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. for this exclusive grand opening where you’ll sample a variety of Chef Joel’s amazing recipes.
OTTIMO PIZZA KITCHEN is located on the main level of Ahern Hotel, 300 W. Sahara Avenue. Call 725-214-4950 for reservations or visit online by clicking here.
In the next segment (available to read here), I’ll attend a monthly wine-pairing dinner hosted by Ahern Hotel, Chef Ott, and guest sommelier Carmelo Messina.
Photos: VEGAS 411, Ahern Hotel