Chef Sammy DeMarco of First Food & Bar fame is a whirling dervish of a man—think toddler on Pixy Stix and you’re getting close. And with his latest venture, a collaboration with good friend and HGTV star Antonio Ballatore, DeMarco now has a restaurant that embodies his streaming consciousness: Rattlecan at the Venetian.
- Venetian, 414-2220.
- Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
It’s essentially a high-end burger joint with enough street art to sooth even the most raging ADD. That visual cacophony extends to the menu, where it can be hard to determine what’s actually being served. For instance, the Wildstyle ($15) is easily mistaken for a simple barbecue sandwich, when it’s actually a pulled pork-topped burger with smoked gouda on a pretzel roll.
My favorite dish: DeMarco’s ode to the French onion burgers of my youth, the Roller ($13). The beef comes smothered in Gruyère, caramelized onions and croutons, and finished with a sour cream onion spread. The croutons are a textural difference-maker, while the Gruyère brings in characteristic nuttiness.
More unexpected treats are hidden within the printed chaos. Don’t skip the busted meatball nachos ($15), which could better be described as pizza nachos—most likely the next great culinary hit from the man who brought us Philly cheesesteak dumplings. Also, try the barbecue pork donut ($11), a memorable combination of meat and sweet, or the dill pickle popcorn ($4), as addictive a snack as you’ll find on the Strip.
Don’t overlook the Short Pack Minis section of the menu. The Original ($12) is a White Castle cousin with American wagyu in place of mystery meat and aged white cheddar subbing for American cheese. Your parents’ sliders these are not. And the Whalers ($11) are the best fish filet sandwiches you’ll ever have. Trust me on this.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the mechanical pickle, upon which you’ll ride if you finish a pickleback (Jameson with pickle juice). Who besides Sammy DeMarco would ever think of that?