Martorano's reflects the flavors of Italy
Celebrity chef Steve Martorano is an imposing man, a native Philadelphian whose grand stature is only rivaled by his larger-than-life personality. The former DJ-turned-chef achieved fame with his takes on classic Italian fare—and, reflecting his roots, his eponymous Paris Las Vegas restaurant transforms as the night unfolds.
The venue evolves, beginning as a mellow supper club with black-and-white movies such as the original Manchurian Candidate and a classic R&B soundtrack as backdrops; later in the evening, the pace becomes more frenetic as it transitions to edgier, R-rated fare and livelier dance music. But throughout the transformation, Martorano’s fare remains classically consistent and fulfilling, the real reason diners continue to visit.
Begin your visit with housemade mozzarella, arriving warm with a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. A simple dish, the cheese has a forgiving consistency, giving way under the lightest of fork pressure. Equally worthy of starting your evening is the fried calamari Bibzy, lightly breaded squid finished in a sweet and spicy chili sauce hinting of heat. The dish is so good, you’ll find it difficult to save room for dinner. But rest assured, you certainly should.
And it goes without saying, as is the case with any dish entitled “famous”, the Famous Meatball & Salad is not to be missed. A study in juxtaposition, the hearty beef, veal and pork blended meatball is a stark contrast to the lighter serving of Martorano’s namesake salad; the former swims in a sharp Sunday sauce, while the latter is adorned with dollops of ricotta cheese and bathed in red wine vinegar dressing.
Entrées are sizeable, reminiscent of what your Italian family would serve—just think of Martorano as the muscular, tattooed grandmother you never had. A creamy bucatini carbonara arrives with an egg atop, awaiting to be stirred in tableside, the hollow, spaghetti-like pasta substantial enough to serve as a foil to the rich, egg- and cream-laden sauce. On the lighter side, spaghetti pescatore mixes a variety of denizens of the deep, including shrimp, crab and calamari, in a spicy tomato-based fra diavolo sauce. And a veal Sicilian special, strewn with spicy cherry peppers, mushrooms and olives, is a light, appealing dish whose sauce doesn’t overwhelm the delicate beef.
Because no good Italian meal is complete without vino, order a bottle of Emmolo merlot. The fruity varietal comes from the Caymus family of wines and is a bargain, particularly in comparison to its brethren. And with that in mind, you can be guilt-free about ordering dessert, whether that’s the classic cannoli garnished with chocolate chips, gelato or the decadent waffle and ice cream. Particularly memorable is the latter, housemade ice cream layered between impossibly airy waffles with a drizzle of maple syrup for good measure.
Paris, 5-10:30 p.m. daily. 702.946.4656