It was a case of perfect timing. Chef Mark Andlebradt, who has worked in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and New York and even finished a stint as personal chef to filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, was looking to return to Vegas. Meanwhile, the Wolfgang Puck group was looking to refresh Postrio, the 15-year-old restaurant planted on the faux St. Mark’s Square in Venetian’s Grand Canal Shoppes.
Put the two together and you’ve got truly fresh food, a spark that makes an old restaurant new again.
Andlebradt thoughtfully guides Postrio away from the somewhat generic bar and grill approach that performed well with a tourist clientele but left something to be desired—excitement. Though familiar fare such as wood-fired pizzas, handmade pastas, and mesquite-grilled steaks and fish still make up the menu’s core, a brilliantly light touch is now evident with each dish, reflecting the company’s desire to return to the fresh, flavorful vibe of the original Postrio in San Francisco.
Beginning with chilled shellfish is a natural choice, but you’ll discover delightful innovation in this menu category—a peppy aji amarillo sauce accompanies marinated Alaskan king crab, and Maine lobster is armed with a mustard-y remoulade. The rest of the new menu is separated into small, medium and large plates (with large equating to full-on entrees) plus charcuterie and pizzas. You may be tempted to avoid such a familiar bite as pizza at a restaurant with so much to offer. Don’t. Puck pizzas are among the Strip’s best, particularly Postrio’s combo of caramelized onions, bacon, goat cheese and olives.
Skip around the rest of the menu and share everything. The brisk, imaginative asparagus salad ($14) is lightly dabbed with dijon-herb vinaigrette, and punched up with a silky pool of goat cheese fondue underneath crisp veggies. Grilled Spanish octopus ($18) is ideal for summer, a slightly spicy piperade layered with tender morsels of meat, chickpeas and lots of olive oil.
Pasta dishes are exceptional. Sweet corn agnolotti ($24) meets mushroom, zucchini and crispy prosciutto, while squid ink spaghettini ($38) is laced with seafood and a spicy yellow tomato reduction. The pick of the litter is braised rabbit pappardelle ($28) with wild ramps, pecorino romano and lots of preserved lemon. You’ll be shocked at how summer-appropriate a dish of braised meat and pasta can be in the capable hands of Andlebradt. Remember: brilliant lightness.
Rounding out the options are the “large” dishes, including heavy hitters like a Black Angus beef burger ($18), braised beef short ribs with root vegetables ($39) and a filet with spinach and roasted maitake mushrooms ($52), plus roasted Scottish sea trout ($34) and my other favorite, wild Alaskan halibut ($38) crisped to perfection with razor clams, sweet corn, bacon and potato.
Puck’s Las Vegas restaurants are models of consistency, and when the company decides to make some changes, it comes with careful strategy. If you’re a fan of Spago or CUT or any other local Puck spot, be aware that the new chef and approach at Postrio is cause for a return visit to Venetian.
Postrio Venetian, 702-796-1110. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.