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Recently I was invited to Red Rock Casino to try out the new menu at Salute Trattoria Italiana. Salute under went some changes and it started with the hiring of new executive chef Luke Palladino.

On this evening I got to try six different courses, which totaled 20 items. I’ll share some of my favorites from the evening. The first one was the Truffle Grissini. These were breadsticks with white truffle butter and grated Parmigiano, wrapped in prosciutto. This is a great appetizer bursting with so many flavors that go together so well.

The next item was the Crespelle, which was baked Taleggio cheese, wild mushrooms and arugula in a crepe drizzled with aged balsamic. Another great appetizer was the Wood Oven Roasted Clams Casino. These had a smoked, chili-garlic butter and were topped with crisp pancetta.

Next up the chef sent out two different pizzas to try. One was a Prosciutto pizza with, of course, prosciutto, arugula, shaved Parmigiano and aged balsamic. The second was their Bianco, which had Pecorino and Buffalo Mozzarella, sun dried tomato pesto and toasted pistachios. Of the two I liked the Bianco the best.

Next we tried three different pastas. The first is a holdover from the original menu and was one of my favorites then, and still is. They do a pasta dish table side, their Salute Signature Pasta, which is spaghetti alla chittara with Roma-style peppers and a cheese sauce that is served directly from a Pecorino cheese wheel. They light the cheese wheel on fire and stir in the pasta and seasonings to absorb the sauce as the cheese melts from the flames. It’s a great visual display to watch but even tastier when you eat it.

The other two pastas were Truffle Ravioli and their Tagliatelle Bolognese with veal, pork and beef ragu.

We had three different main entrees. The first was Acqua Pazza, which was a whole roasted fish prepared in what they called “crazy water.” They brought the entire fish out to the table to view then took it back to the kitchen to debone and filet it.

The next item was Salute’s Bistecca Alla Fiorentina. This is a 32-ounce prime porterhouse served for two. Crisp fingerling potatoes accompany it. The porterhouse was cooked to perfection and was very flavorful as it was finished with a black garlic-porcini butter. But my favorite entree that we tried was the grilled veal chop served with roasted sun chokes, wild mushrooms, prosciutto and sage. It was excellent!

We had several side dishes to try and to my surprise my favorite was the crisp Brussel sprouts with aged balsamic vinegar. As a kid I never liked them and swore they multiplied on my plate while finishing my veggies. But these were prepared and seasoned perfectly and the crispness with the balsamic vinegar had me seeking a second helping. Try them and you will see what I’m talking about.

You can’t have a great Italian meal without desert and Chef Palladio didn’t disappoint as our table had Cannoli and a Warm Nutella Cake. Salute’s Cannoli was slightly different than most as theirs was prepared with the standard ricotta filling but they also had cinnamon, candied orange, pistachios and chocolate, making for a unique cannoli that was quite good.

Service was excellent as this was a private tasting of the menu and I was impressed with several of the new menu items and glad to see them keep some of the old menus favorites. I will be back soon. Salute Trattoria Italiana rates 3.75 Forks.

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