Picasso presents the epitome of elegance
Steve Wynn’s Bellagio opening in 1998 represented a shift in Las Vegas resort design. Instead of a windowless, smoky destination only focused on gaming, it was different, from the breathtaking, seasonally changing Conservatory and Botanical Gardens to the iconic dancing Fountains of Bellagio along the Strip. It represented a new age where amenities were given equal representation to gaming itself.
But Wynn didn’t limit his innovations to simply those suitable for postcards. Equally as important was the creation of a culinary destination, assembling a lineup of celebrity chefs under a single roof. Most of those have transitioned, but one constant is Julian Serrano’s award-winning Picasso.
Like the seminal artist’s paintings that adorn the space, Picasso remains a timeless beauty. Views of the Fountains are as stunning as the platings, while the animated and welcoming service is never too far removed from your table. And Serrano’s classic French cuisine remains as vibrant as ever, intermixed with flavors of his Spanish heritage.
A recent tasting began in traditional French fashion with a series of amuse-bouches. First was a silky potato leek soup decorated with almond slivers and chives, followed by a duo of pheasant croquette and a flaky potato galette adorned with a dollop of Osetra caviar. The former served to subtly awaken the palate with its contrasts in texture, while the latter pitted the meaty game bird against the fish roe’s salinity.
Roasted langoustine salad accented by piquillo pepper vinaigrette and mashed avocado followed in a presentation befitting the namesake artist, the plate awash in flashes of reds and greens. Paired with a not-too-sweet Weingut Langwerth von Simmern German Riesling, the delicate crustacean highlighted without being overpowered. The journey continued with a stalwart of Serrano’s menus: the pan-seared day boat scallop. Served atop a sharp, brightly-colored Romesco with a housemade potato tuille, the hearty mollusk shone against the acidity of the accompanying Nicolas Joly Les Vieux Clos Savennières.
Proceeding to heartier courses, sautéed foie gras steak was transcendent. Accompanied by Olson cherries farçies of ganache and a foie gras green peppercorn sauce, the dish struck a balance of richness and sweetness from both the chocolate-stuffed cherries and the delectable Austrian Weingut Nigl Grüner Veltliner eiswein. Another classic Serrano presentation, Japanese A5 wagyu filet, spoke for itself, the meat needing little gilding beside a symphony of vegetables and a glass of rich Chateau Gruaud Larose Bordeaux. As a contrast to the meaty wagyu, a sautéed, flaky filet of black bass was finished with pepperade sauce and accompanied roasted Provençal vegetables and a black garlic and black olive tapenade.
Drawing the meal to a close was Picasso’s warm chocolate fondant. Better known as molten chocolate cake, the decadent dessert oozes with a lava flow of rich chocolate contrasted by Bailey’s and butterscotch ice cream.
Julian Serrano is a Las Vegas rarity—a celebrity culinarian who has remained in Vegas rather than being an absentee chef. Equally as rare is a restaurant with the staying power of Picasso, a testament to the unique dining experience that continues to impress. Here’s looking forward to another 20 years of Picasso!
Bellagio, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Wed.-Mon. 702.693.8865