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Giada's at The Cromwell - Opening Night review (long)

Discussion in 'Restaurants & Buffets' started by ah6tyfour, Jun 4, 2014.

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  1. ah6tyfour

    ah6tyfour High-Roller

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    My friends and I have been looking forward to Giada's first restaurant ever since it was announced that she would be opening in Vegas. Many news updates and delays later, Giada's finally opened to the public tonight. We were one of her first paying customers to be seated. The theme of the restaurant is Italian with a Californian twist, so most dishes were a bit lighter with very nice use of citrus to brighten up the food.

    This will be a long review, so for those that don't want to read a wall of text, the words I would use to sum up Giada's would be "Homey", "Inviting", and "Perfection".

    The restaurant is on the 2nd floor of the Cromwell, with escalators dedicated to it. Escalators drop you off at the hostess booth and then you are taken to your seat. The first thing you see walking into the dining room is a huge array of antipasti, a station where pasta is being made from scratch, and a pizza oven imported from Italy. It's a very smart way to let the diner see how fresh everything is and also to give a little preview of what's available. The room then opens up into a very inviting dining room. Casual with a slight feminine touch. You can feel how involved Giada was with the planning and design. The huge windows (which open to turn the dining room into a gigantic patio) look out to great views of Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Cosmo, and Aria. The Bellagio fountains are visible from almost every table. I can't think of a better location for a restaurant.

    Even though it was opening night, service was impeccable. The staff are well-trained and know the menu. Our server was Jason and he was excellent. Every dish he talked about sounded more delicious than the one before it. And his recommendations were spot on. We felt cared for throughout and found our experience enhanced by the service.

    Once we ordered, we received bread service that included very nice black pepper breadsticks and a warm lemon-herb focaccia served in a small cast-iron pot. Definitely one of the more unique and tasty bread offerings on the strip. We were also started with a complimentary apéritif with flavors of elderflower. A very nice start and an indication of the great meal to come.

    On to the food. The two-page menu features a page of antipasto (with 45 choices of apps in small-plate format) and a page with the real menu. We started with an assortment of antipasti. The "Bacon-Wrapped Dates" came as a serving of five dates stuffed with spicy sausage and sitting on a bed of smooth, creamy gorgonzola. Tons of flavor, with the spiciness offset by the sweetness of the date and the crema smoothing out the flavors. The "Clams Casino" were excellent with fresh littlenecks cooked in white wine, with prosciutto, lots of garlic, and these tiny bread crumbs for texture. "Oysters Rockefeller" came with four deep fried oysters sitting in their shells with spinach bread crumbs. We also ordered the Burrata and the Prosciutto (separate dishes, but they complement each other). The burrata was made in-house and was sheer perfection. Fresh and smooth and silky, it went perfectly with the prosciutto. Prosciutto was served with pickled grapes and pickled apples. Wrap a grape in prosciutto and pick up some burrata with it for a bite of pure heaven. All the antipasti was good, but the clams and the burrata were standouts.

    Next, we shared some pasta. The Spaghetti came with three HUGE shrimp (they must be 1-2/pound). The shrimp was cooked perfectly and the spaghetti was kept light with the addition of lemon and basil. The acidity of lemon really cuts through a dish that could otherwise be heavy. Spaghetti turned out to be the unanimous winning dish for the night. Next was the Lobster Ravioli. Each freshly-made ravioli was stuffed with a piece of lobster. Additional pieces of lobster joined asparagus tips on the plate. A very pleasant citrus sauce brought the dish together and it was excellent. Again we see the use of citrus to bring out flavors and cut through richness. I appreciated that the ravioli was stuffed simply with lobster meat. There was no cheese mixed in to make the ravioli seem dense and compete with the taste of the lobster. Finally, we received the Crab and Scallop Risotto. The risotto itself had pieces of crab folded in and came presented with two perfectly seared scallop sitting on top. The dish was finished with a light citrus olive oil. I really enjoyed the flavors of this dish, although the crab itself was a bit lost.

    Main dishes arrived next. We ordered the "Porter house for two", which was presented to us in a very nice stainless steel pan and then carved table-side. Here is where they impressed me the most. The waiter expertly separated the filet from the strip steak, sliced each one into appropriate slices, and plated individual plates with both types of meat, adding grilled lemon, cherry tomatoes, and a supplemental streak of sauce. I forgot what he called the sauce, but it was an oil-based sauce with herbs chopped in. Great presentation and reflects great training and attention to detail. The steak itself was wonderful. A beautiful crust full of herbs and spices complemented by the sauce made for one very nice dish. Finally, we received the Veal Chop Saltimbocca. The Saltimbocca sauce was extremely flavorful and went well with the veal. While still excellent, this was our least favorite dish of the night. Although the fault is probably ours because the flavors were reminiscent of olives, something all of us dislike. With our main courses, we ordered a side of Lemon Potatoes, which is a real winner. Small potatoes cooked, smashed, and fried (think Umami Burger in LA) and topped with lemon-infused olive oil and lots of Parmesan. It took potatoes to a whole new level and paired very well with the main courses.

    We were then presented with dessert menus and offered coffee. I don't know what it was called, but we ordered this Nutella espresso that was great. A dollop of Nutella, a shot of espresso, and fresh whipped cream all mixed together with some hazelnuts for texture. It was the perfect drink for our desserts. We ordered the Trio of Tiramisu and the Assortment of Cookies. The Tiramisu came as shot glasses with layers of cake and flavored cream (the trio being blackberry, chocolate, and raspberry). They were light and refreshing, which is a big change from the rich tiramisu you get elsewhere. The Assortment of Cookies came with four types of cookies (9 cookies total on the plate). The chocolate peanut butter one was great and the best by far was the lemon ricotta cookie.

    Altogether, one heck of a meal. We were approached by Giada a couple times and by the GM a few times as well. It has been a long time since I've had a meal so consistently excellent. I will definitely return and it will definitely be a place I take visitors. 5 antipasti, 3 pastas, 2 entrees (including a steak meant for two), 1 side, 2 desserts, 2 cocktails, a $28 bottle of beer, and 2 espressos came to $380 before tax and tip. And it was more than enough for our table of four.

    If I had to give criticism:
    -We asked for more bread 2-3 times and finally received it after 20+ minutes, but that's just due to opening night jitters.
    -The timing between courses was a bit slow, but the waiter often dropped by to apologize and explain that the kitchen was a bit behind due to it being opening night. He dropped by with three complimentary cocktails (chosen to give us a sampling of what the bar has to offer) to apologize for the wait.
    -The risotto dish should be a larger serving. It's $30 and I understand why (the crab and the large scallops), but it looks a bit small for the price. They should simply give more risotto and nobody would find it too expensive, even though the crab and scallop amounts stay the same.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  2. ah6tyfour

    ah6tyfour High-Roller

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    Oh, if you are there for a special event and have a group of 4-6, there is a semi-circular booth that is positioned at the perfect angle to look out the center window at the Bellagio fountains. I would say that is their VIP table. The group sitting there today seemed to be getting a lot of attention and Giada herself dropped off many of their dishes. I don't know the table number, but I would definitely try to get that table with a reservation 30 minutes before sundown. You'll get to see the lights on the strip turn on and you'll get to watch the Bellagio fountains at night.
     
  3. kittyglitter_mm

    kittyglitter_mm Low-Roller

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    Thank you for the detailed review! I already have a reservation and now I'm really excited! This sounds excellent! Did you happen to look at the wine menu? Extensive, pricey, etc?
     
  4. LV_Bound

    LV_Bound VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the review. It sounds like a great place. Hoping to try it out next trip.
     
  5. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    Thanks for such detail... it's so nice to read such a positive review.
     
  6. sybgal

    sybgal VIP Whale

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    Sounds wonderful! Thanks so much for providing such detail.....glad you enjoyed it!!!
     
  7. ah6tyfour

    ah6tyfour High-Roller

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    Unfortunately I don't know enough about wine to know if the prices were high or low. We ordered cocktails at $13-$15 each and my friend had a 750mL bottle of Ferran Adria's Inedit beer (made for el bulli) for $28. Looks to be 2-2.5x mark-up, so I would think the wine would be priced similarly.
     
  8. Suekel

    Suekel VIP Whale

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    Thanks for taking the time to share your detailed review. I'll be honest that up til now I'd sort of dismissed Giada's as somewhere I wouldn't care to try, but you've changed my mind!
     
    Vegas Just Because...
  9. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    FYI, the 750 ml of beer for $28 looks to be $10 at beer/wine stores. Why I typically drink water at Vegas restaurants...and also because I'm poor. :(

    Great review though! And I agree a sundown dinner sounds ideal!
     
  10. vegasbound

    vegasbound Moderator

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    I'm glad your opening night experience was enjoyable. I dined during the soft opening and I agree it was fantastic. Details and photos, here.
     
  11. VegasinApril

    VegasinApril Tourist

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    Thanks for writing such a detailed review. The food sounds delicious!
     
  12. Gdicke13

    Gdicke13 Low-Roller

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    Great review!! I was looking for somewhere different and new for later this month. You got me to make a reservation...anyone though see a menu anywhere? Can't find one anywhere online
     
  13. dvandentop

    dvandentop VIP Whale

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    Excellent thanks for the review looking to visit here in september.
     
  14. Gdicke13

    Gdicke13 Low-Roller

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    Finally found the menu, for anyone who cares its on Vegas.eater.com
     
  15. Gofaster87

    Gofaster87 Low-Roller

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    Nice review, I might have to brave the strip crowds and go try it. How many days in advance to reserve a table?
     
  16. vegasbound

    vegasbound Moderator

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    Prior to the opening I was told by the GM that they were nearly fully booked throughout the month of June. Book early.
     
  17. paperposter

    paperposter VIP Whale

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    im hearing 2 weeks deppening on what time u want , prime time is hard,if it gets good reviews it will be tough, she just fired her head chief 2 days ago.

    is there a bar so i can just check it by myself thanks
     
  18. broncofn

    broncofn VIP Whale

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    She already fired her chef? Do you know why?
     
  19. kittyglitter_mm

    kittyglitter_mm Low-Roller

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    It was two weeks ago, not two days ago. He wasn't cooking her recipes the way she wanted. She has an interim chef for about 3 months while she finds a new head chef.
     
  20. mrstealth

    mrstealth High-Roller

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    Thanks for the awesome review! I heard they had the windows open opening night, has to be just an amazing view and setting.

    I do have a specific question though - is Giada as amazingly sexy as she is on TV ?

    As far as the Chef - Norm Clarke in the LVRJ had an article that the reason the executive chef was fired was he would not follow her instructions/recipes. She wants the dishes to be prepared the way she developed them, and he wanted to put his own twist on them.

    Thanks again for the review and cannot wait to visit. I have to believe this will be the hottest restaurant in vegas.
     
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