Cooking at the historic James Beard House in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village neighborhood is an honor that Chef Mark LoRusso experienced twice before this past March when he showcased Costa di Mare’s passion for seafood. Inside Mr. Beard’s original kitchen, Chef created a menu that celebrated the fish and shellfish from the Italian coastline.
A Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Award-winning restaurant located inside Wynn Las Vegas, it’s no surprise that Costa di Mare’s seafood program works like a jeweled time piece – geared by 75 fisherman spinning reels of line around Italian coastal waters to deliver the freshest seafood to restaurant guests.
Inside the acclaimed James Beard House, before 63 guests, LoRusso’s goal was to stay true to the heart of Costa di Mare. “I wasn’t just proud of myself, but also of Wynn and the whole team. It took a great team to deliver,” says LoRusso.
LoRusso’s eight-course tasting menu highlighted hard-to-find breeds of fish and crustaceans shipped straight from Italy. Each dish was paired with stunning regional wines.
“Since our cuisine is Italian, all Italian wines were chosen made from grapes that you can’t find anywhere else in Italy, except mainly in the selected region,” says Miklos Katona, wine manager of Costa di Mare. “The goal was that the two together (food and wine) would create a higher level of joy and experience on the palate than separately!”
Following the success of the James Beard House event, guests of Costa di Mare, located inside Wynn Las Vegas, can now enjoy the exact same tasting menu. “A Night at the James Beard House” menu is a celebration of seasonal flavors which starts with Ricci di mare con oilo – sea urchin mousse, served beautifully in a sea urchin shell, with olive oil and chives and paired with a lambrusco by Albine Canali; crudo misto di mare, a crudo trio of cuttlefish delicately sliced like “cappellini,” prawns, Sicilian amberjack and palomita is paired with refreshing and luxurious bubbles of Bella Vista’s Alma Franciacorta Brut.
From the organic vineyards of Jermann located in Friuli is a riveting white blend called “Vinnae” which harmonizes with scampi al burro conpiselli di primavera – butter-poached Imperial Langoustine with spring peas. Off the coast of Liguria, comes polipo Ligure all griglia- grilled octopus with crispy potatoes, olive oil-poached fennel and olives follows, which also happens to be a dish that both LoRusso and Katona share a particular affinity.
“We slowly cook the octopus to give it its tender grill marks. There is a nice char on it but not too much, just a light touch,” says LoRusso. “The dish is combined with a little bit of olive vinaigrette, a little bit of rapini, pepper based sauce, all to compliment the octopus. The octopus is the star of the dish.”
Together with the Punta Crena Ca’Da Rena, the distinctively Ligurian wine makes a profound pairing from a very special coastal region of northwestern Italy.
“What brings this two elements together, besides that it is a marriage made in the heaven, that not just the flavor but the unique texture of the octopus being complimented by the round texture and wild white floral aromas of the pigato grape grown on old vines (35-40 years-old), supported by just enough acidity!” says Katona.
Next on the tasting menu is risotto Sardo – Sardinian Red Mullet, bottarga and risotto with mussels. Bottarga is a local favorite from the island of Sardinia. It is a brick colored cured fish roe that is shaved on dishes for added flavor and texture. It is best enjoyed with the captivatinig Jankara “Vermentino di Gallura, a 100 percent single vineyard vermentino, also from Sardinia.
Finally, the rombo con caviale Oscietre – line-caught Mediterranean Turbot with butter-poached leeks and Osetra Caviar – is an exquisite fish with a perfectly crispy skin making way to a flaky white flesh that harmonizes with Anselmi “Capitel Croce,” a powerful, pure and fresh white wine from the Veneto region.
The dinner finishes with bright limoncello semifreddo with limoncello cream, poached rhubarb, strawberry and coconut streusel. Complemented with a passito from a Sicilian producer, Planeta, the wine is made with moscato bianco grapes that undergo a special drying process that results in a concentrated dessert wine showing explosive aromas of exotic and candied citrus fruits.
Guests who experience the James Beard House dinner at Costa di Mare will be swept to far away Italian waters for a thoughtfully-created, grand seafood feast, quenched by delicious regional wines not readily found in other parts of the globe.