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Creating the Flavors of Costa di Mare

An Interview with Chef Mark LoRusso

Costa di Mare, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Award-winning restaurant at Wynn, showcases the acclaimed seafood prepared by chef Mark LoRusso. LoRusso, voted "Best Chef" in Las Vegas by the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association creates his menu nightly, featuring fresh Mediterranean seafood and Italian cuisine with house-made pastas and over forty varieties of fresh fish and shellfish flown in daily from Italy’s coastal waters. You may choose to sit in the bold, freshly redesigned dining room or outside in a private cabana surrounding the serene lagoon.

Making the Menu

Featuring Costa di Mare by Mark LoRusso

 

Andrea Bennett (Editor-in-Chief – Las Vegas Magazine) [0:00:01]:  People are looking for that story, "What can I get in Las Vegas that I can’t anywhere else?"

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:00:05]:  This is a desert. There’s very little agriculture happening around here. Not a lot is growing around here and we’re certainly not super close to the ocean.

 

Andrea Bennett (Editor-in-Chief – Las Vegas Magazine) [0:00:14]: Chefs are feeling like they need to push the envelope a little bit.

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:00:17]: There’s a lot of money and a lot of time spent on finding the best product.

 

Andrea Bennett (Editor-in-Chief – Las Vegas Magazine) [0:00:26]: Costa di Mare is getting seafood that nobody else can get.

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:00:30]: Exclusive, Mediterranean and Italian seafood and it’s specifically been pulled out of the ocean hours ago just for you. I don’t think anyone knows officially how they do it.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:00:40]:  With Italian food in the United States, you think of pasta, we think of meatballs, you know, lasagna, things like that.

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:00:47]: That’s not what you’re gonna find at Costa di Mare.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:00:49]: Really when you go to Italy and you see all the fish and surrounded by water and you go to the markets in the morning and see the freshness of everything and to see a lot of the stuff on the menu at nighttime, it’s inspiring.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:00:59]:  I tell people all the time, the difference between typical Italian restaurant and us would be Italians from Brooklyn and we’re Italians off the boat.

 

Miklos Katona (Wine Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:01:08]:  The best compliments that we get here at Costa di Mare, it’s a question: How did you get that bottle of wine? How did you bring that fish here? We are sharing a story. This experience, it has to be memorable.

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:01:26]: Mark LoRusso, he is incredible. He’s one of the great veteran Las Vegas chefs that people don’t talk about. You don’t see his name in bold print or anything like that. It’s more about the experience.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:01:37]: The menu starts with what’s in season, what’s the best product. Because you know fish is seasonal and when I was in Rome one night I walked in this kind of hip, cool restaurant and see you know 95% of tables had raw fish on the table. The thing with crudo, it really kind of starts your meal off and kick-starts the freshness of our seafood program.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:01:59]: People often come in and ask “Where’s the show?” at this restaurant and I often tell them the show is on the plate.

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:02:05]: There’s just so much respect for the ingredient there. They just kind of let it shine and let it do its thing.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:02:12]: Feminine touch, you know, nothing overpowering. You’re cooking it with care. You’re watching it, you’re making sure you’re not overcooking it. A little drizzle of great olive oil and that’s kind of all you need. You wouldn’t want to like make a cream sauce, per se, and ladle all over it. I feel like you’re not respecting the product.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:02:28]: It’s so rare to have something so simple that all we do is just cook it correctly and bring it to you outside.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:02:34]: Of all the different fish that we get, I’d say there’s at least 40% of it that you’re not gonna see in the United States.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:02:42]: This is our langoustine. So you can tell they’re nice and alive right now. What’s unique about them, is no one has them alive in the United States.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:02:50]: We bring langoustine from somewhere in Europe, and I say somewhere in Europe because we’re not allowed to tell you where we get them from.

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:02:57]: Because of their great relationships with the fisheries there, they’re able to get this product that nobody else has.

 

Eliot Prodani [0:03:04]: The gentleman that gets them for us, he believes in sustainability and we love that.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:03:08]: I just email them and say “Send us langoustines.” He replies, “Received.” It’s basically a 48-hour turnaround to our back door.

 

Brock Radke (Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly) [0:03:21]: You have to get some seafood there, you have to. But you should definitely get some pasta too, it’s pretty incredible.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:03:32]: Pasta is one of the main ingredients of an Italian cuisine or Italian culture. It’s an everyday thing.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:03:41]: Every day it clearly is fresh pasta. We treat it as meal cores, a small bowl of pasta in between your fish course and your appetizer. You know it’s traditionally how you would eat in Italy.

 

Server [0:03:54]: ..and it’s mixed with the dough, that’s why it’s black.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:03:59]: I think this restaurant is a lot about education and it’s probably the most unique restaurant I’ve worked at. The fish cart that we have, to go in there and say “These are our lobsters from Sicily” and it kind of brings the whole story together.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:04:10]: Educating our guests about all the species, that’s the lifeline of this restaurant.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:04:16]: We are fortunate enough to feature fish from all over the Mediterranean waters. From up to the northern part of Italy next to the Venetian lagoon, down to the Ionian and Adriatic waters, Sicily, all the way up to the Ligurian in the north.

 

Server [0:04:29]: Go get this lobster, you have to dive in, physically.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:04:36]: All our fish is done tableside.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:04:38]: We are going to fillet this for you tableside.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:04:41]: It ends up being like part of the cooking process.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:04:43]: It’s absolutely fundamental to see the flesh of the fish. Then you’ll see the moisture content, you see the flakiness of it and you see the sweetness of the fish and that’s what makes the difference.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:04:58]: The goal is to mimic that way of eating outside somewhere in Italy and replicate the Italian experience.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:05:05]: It’s about the guests and I think if you take care of the guests, you take care of the quality, the rest kind of flows in together.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:05:14]: Making moments so special for them, we do this day in, day out.

 

Mark LoRusso (Executive Chef – Costa di Mare) [0:05:19]: As a chef, that’s what you always like to hear “You made part of our evening.”

 

Andrea Bennett (Editor-in-Chief – Las Vegas Magazine) [0:05:23]: The idea that the strip is always reforming, reshaping makes a lot of sense because we’re nothing if not catering to our guests here.

 

Elion Prodani (General Manager – Costa di Mare) [0:05:32]: Always creating, always changing, always striving for better. And I think we embrace that in this restaurant to the fullest.

 

About the Speakers

Mark LoRusso
(Executive Chef – Costa di Mare)

 

Brock Radke
(Food Editor – Las Vegas Weekly)

 

Andrea Bennett
(Editor-in-Chief – Las Vegas Magazine)

 

Elion Prodani
(General Manager – Costa di Mare)

 

Miklos Katona
(Wine Manager – Costa di Mare)

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