Italians know how to enjoy the good life. Take the tradition of the aperitivo that goes back to Roman times. It is the time of day that marks the end of work and the start of leisure. You’ll spend it with friends and family, sipping drinks and light bites before diving into your dinner plans. This daily ritual is a cherished part of the culture that a chef Angelo Auriana from the newly opened Brera Osteria on the Grand Canal Shoppes would like to bring to America.
“I came to the US when I was 23 and the first thing I realized was that there was no aperitif. I’ve missed it since I’ve lived here, ”he says. “And now we can implement something with the Venetian, with the beautiful St. Mark’s Square, that we really love and that is part of our culture.”
The Brera Osteria in Las Vegas is an offshoot of the Brera Ristorante in the LA Arts District, which was recently selected as one of the best Italian restaurants in the world by the online guide 50 Top Italy. It’s another collaboration between Auriana and Matteo Ferdinandi (the two are also partners at Matteo’s Ristorante Italiano in the Venetian). It is also important to know that Brera is a fashionable neighborhood in Milan, the unofficial capital of the aperitif.
When visiting Brera, start with the Aperitivo Hour menu, perhaps with a refreshing Campari Spritz ($ 16) made from Campari, Prosecco Borgoluce and lemon soda, or a classic Negroni ($ 18) with Citadelle Gin, Campari and Carpano Antica. Light bites like bruschetta (US $ 9) – with tomatoes, shallots, basil, and white bean puree on ciabatta – or beef tartare (US $ 20) – diced American Wagyu beef, anchovies, capers, shallots and egg – are perfect, to surprise you actual meal.
The nice thing about the evening menu is its length, which is easy to handle in one reading and offers a choice in each category: starters; Pizza; Pasta and risotto; Seafood, meat and poultry; and dish of the day. Time-tested classics like Amatriciana ($ 23) – with freshly extruded bucatini noodles, shaved grana, and sage – and the margherita pizza ($ 20) made from San Marzano tomatoes, fior di latte, and oregano are here in a way made authentic to their origin.
That’s by design, says Auriana, speaking to the way Italians treat their food. “An Italian is going to come in for memories. He will find a dish that will remind him of his mother or his favorite restaurant. They come with a clear idea of what they want. They will say, “I’m here to have the cacio e pepe because that’s the pasta I like the most. And then they’ll say, “Yeah, that’s good, as good as at home,” which is the ultimate compliment for us. “
In contrast, says Auriana, an American will say, “So cook, what should I eat? Give me a recommendation. What will i try? ‘For me, restaurants are a blank canvas. All you have to do is choose the colors that you like and then we have to exceed your expectations. “
The menu at Brera Osteria is also seasonally anchored, an ethos that the chef says is ingrained into the culture. “As an Italian, I eat Italian food every day, and versatility determines what I like,” he says. “Today I see the mozzarella that came super fresh with the burrata, and I want a salad. … White asparagus is coming from France and Italy next week, so we’re going to have white asparagus pizza. As a chef, I look at ingredients and get inspired. “
BRERA OSTERIA Grand Canal Shoppes in Venetian, 702-414-1227. Monday to Thursday from 5pm to 9pm; Friday-Sunday, 12 p.m.-9:30 p.m.