Las Vegas

First Look: Spiegelworld's Superfrico Reveals a New Psychedelic Dinner Experience

The Cosmopolitan's new restaurant is just weird enough to work.

Photo courtesy of Spiegelworld
Photo courtesy of Spiegelworld
Photo courtesy of Spiegelworld

Bright, colorful, and weird by design, Superfrico is what happens when an entertainment company takes charge of a restaurant in Las Vegas. Landing on the second floor of the Cosmopolitan resort, the new venue by Spiegelworld, which also operates the Opium stage show next door, takes over a space once home to Rose.Rabbit.Lie., replacing the former superclub with an ’80s acid trip of eclectic original artwork, neon decor, and moody lighting.

A candy-colored mural specifically commissioned for Superfrico frames the kitchen doors, with the service team almost getting lost within the acrylic painting as they come and go. Other bizarre sights include hands reaching out from the walls while holding up the stem of a flower, some disturbing family portraits, and even a collection of action figures based on the Opium cast. If it’s all too much, just focus on the vinyl spinning at a DJ booth in the nearby lounge area called the Studio. From the moment you enter Superfrico (in a circular blue-lit waiting room that feels like the beginning of a theme park ride) to the purple hallway that leads to the host stand, you know you’re in for a beautifully odd experience.

As we navigate the complications and uncertainty of a new Roaring 20s, Superfrico is a welcome change of pace and uniquely fits the times. It’s a place where things are meant to feel “off”-and if we’re going to face the new normal together, let’s do it with great food and lots of fun (and a mask when not sitting at your table).

Photo by Rob Kachelriess
Photo by Rob Kachelriess
Photo by Rob Kachelriess

While Superfrico and Opium operate together with a certain synergy, a ticket to the latter isn’t essential to have a complete experience at Superfrico. Some of the performers may even make an appearance in the dining room to give you a taste of what the sci-fi variety show is all about. Don’t be surprised to see jugglers tossing illuminated balls atop furniture or an astronaut with a giant eye in place of a head. If someone approaches your table with a briefcase with an offer to “Upgrade your fork,” say yes.

“It’s a very ambitious idea-the theater spilling into the dining room and the dining room spilling into the theater,” says chef Anthony Falco. “I mean, you can do anything you want in Vegas.”

So what about the food? The menu promises an evening of “psychedelic Italian” dining, much of it shaped by Falco’s Sicilian heritage and childhood weekends spent wolfing down his grandmother’s cooking on a family farm. He also took inspiration from travels around the world. The yuzu kosho (fermented peppers and yuzu) he grew to appreciate in Japan is now used in Superfrico’s calamari with a sweet touch of tangerine honey. Falco also expanded his spice expertise by collaborating with Lebanese chefs in the Middle East. The influence is felt in the dry-aged beef meatball appetizer, which disregards tomato sauce for a savory agrodolce of saffron, raisin, mint, pistachio, and honey.

“Fusion implies that ingredients were separate and brought together,” says Falco. “When I travel around the world, I’m looking for threads that exist already.”

Photo by Anthony Mair
Photo by Anthony Mair
Photo by Anthony Mair

With that in mind, Falco notes that Sicily was once an emirate and has a legacy of entangled cultures. His Lamb Ragu Babbaluci marks the intersection of Italian and North African flavors with lamb sausage, mint, lemon labneh (yogurt), and za’atar spices over pipe rigate. The combination was originally planned for a pizza, but the chef decided it worked better in a pasta dish. The carbonara, by comparison, follows a more traditional recipe with the bite of fresh cracked pepper playing off the richness of a creamy white sauce. However, the chef still found a way to mix things up with a longer noodle-like version of fusilli with guanciale (fatty pork cheek) instead of pancetta.

Pizzas are naturally leavened with partially stone-milled flour and come in a choice of two styles. “Square” is Sicilian-style, with a thick, crispy-edged crust that’s best experienced with the hearty combination of ‘nduja (spicy sausage) and pepperoni. “Round” describes a thin, New York-style crust with a charred and chewy texture that lends well to both a traditional Margherita or the adventurous Mushroom Mogul. The latter generously layers thick, flavorful mushrooms on a light lemon, cream, and white wine sauce.

Overall, portions are on the smaller side but meant to be shareable, allowing tables to sample multiple items while working their way up to heartier fare like the catch of the day (fileted with lemon and capers) or chicken parmesan (Mary’s Organic Chicken, breaded in sourdough, and served with a spicy marinara). The food is often brought to the table on light blue dishware-a simple presentation that complements the eccentricity of the restaurant but also allows the ingredients to command attention without getting lost in the chaos of the dining room.

The cocktail list, curated by Leo Robitschek, offers offbeat variations on familiar recipes. The Emma-ReNAe is similar to a Penicillin, but with a touch of coconut and sherry to even out the bourbon, honey, and ginger. The Boozy Skuntion is a modified Old Fashioned with banana-raisin infused rum. It’s sweet, but with a bold, upfront intensity. There’s a Negroni menu with four recipes-none of them traditional, including the Pizza Party combo of gin, campari, and vermouth with tomato water and basil. It’s kind of like a garden in a glass.

Photo by Anthony Mair
Photo by Anthony Mair
Photo by Anthony Mair

Enjoying drinks in a variety of spaces is part of Superfrico’s charm. Beyond the dining room and lounge areas, there’s the secluded “Ski Lodge”-a speakeasy with log cabin decor, après-ski attitude, and its own exclusive cocktail list that favors the classics. Bottle-O is a retail shop near the front entrance where bottled cocktails are sold to-go (in brown paper bags so you can show everyone how naughty you are while roaming the Cosmopolitan’s casino floor). Even the audience at Opium can scan a QR code and order cocktails and bites from Superfrico without leaving their seats. “No matter how bad the show is, you’re never going to run out of booze,” jokes Ross Mollison of Spiegelworld.

Superfrico is in soft-opening mode (or “in previews” as the theater crowd might say) until an official grand opening on October 28. Reservations are available Wednesday through Sunday from 5 pm to “late” (around 2 am) via SevenRooms. Opium performs the same evenings at 8 pm and 10 pm with tickets available on the show’s website.Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than seven years. In addition, his work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and Luxury Estates International’s seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.

Las Vegas

A Fresh Take on Italian Dining Opens in Southwest Las Vegas

A first look at Basilico Ristorante Italiano.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

You can’t be all things to all people. Yet a new Italian restaurant strikes an intriguing balance between authenticity and inventive touches while helping to shape the identity of a new community in the booming Southwest Valley of Las Vegas.

Basilico Ristorante Italiano is now open at Evora, a master-planned apartment development still under construction that won’t be finished for at least five years. The 160-seat restaurant follows the vision of chef Francesco Di Caudo, a Sicily native who draws on his heritage and experience throughout Italy to build a compelling menu based on traditional techniques and modern ingenuity.

“I come from a country where farm-to-table is nothing new,” says Di Caudio, while emphasizing the importance of ingredient sourcing and simple, straightforward flavor combinations.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

Just look at the appetizers. Americans are used to eggplant parmesan that’s breaded and fried without restraint. Di Caudo sticks to a traditional Sicilian recipe with the vegetable sliced thin, sizzled in a pan, and layered with tomato and basil. No mozzarella. On the other hand, the Smoked Cigar is destined to be a signature showstopper. Duck, foie gras, and porcini mushrooms are packed inside a thin, cracker-like shell, presented in a box, and dipped into a glass ashtray. The “ash” in the centre is a black sesame and truffle mix. Don’t be shy about double dipping.

The risotto is bound to be another conversation piece. The recipe uses Carnaroli rice, a starchy grain from North Italy that produces a creamy texture, balancing the saltiness of a parmesan broth with a sweet splash of chestnut honey. The real surprise is the inclusion of Lavazza espresso, manipulated to crackle in your mouth like Pop Rocks candy.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

All pastas are made in-house, from a parsnip cavatelli to a lamb and thyme tortellini in a broth filtered from braised prosciutto. Some dishes have a subtle Asian influence, including a hamachi crudo with pomelo (similar to yuzu), Hokkaido scallops with oxtail, and a planned octopus braised in dashi. The flavours come to life inside a sharp, contemporary dining room with deep red chairs and stone, wood, and marble touches. The wine collection is dominated by Italian labels, with a few California and Oregon picks thrown in to round out the list. Bottles are on display near the front entrance and inside illuminated square shelves. “It looks like a fancy restaurant, but when you sit down, I want you to have fun,” adds Di Caudio.

Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Louiie Victa, courtesy of Basilico Ristorante Italiano

The bar is the heart of the restaurant, ready to serve up to 16 people inside and dozens more via accordion-style windows that open wide to a covered patio. The outdoor space, temperature-controlled with overhead fans and heaters, effectively extends Evora’s open-air plaza with dramatic water and fire features. It’s a natural spot for tastings and special events with a covered stage for live music. Evora is rolling out in four phases, with the first 342 apartments ready by fall. There could be as many as 1,400 when it’s all said and done. Rent begins at around $1,800 for studios and one-bedroom units and goes up to $4,000 for two-story top-floor residences with a loft and Strip views. The community will include swimming pools, pickleball courts, a putting green, a dog park, firepits, EV charging stations, and pavilions equipped with audio and video features.

“Basilico matches the demographic for our apartments,” says Danny Sorge of Digital Desert Development, the company behind the community. “The term ‘youthful sophistication’ has been thrown around about the restaurant and Evora as a whole. It brings something new to the area.”

Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora
Rendering courtesy of Evora

The development follows a deliberate strategy to have the commercial tenants in place before the first residents move in, occupying a stand-alone building that strikes a commanding presence on the corner of Patrick Lane and Buffalo Drive. Lemon Tree Cafe & Market is already open as a European-style grocery store with plenty of room to sit down with a sandwich and glass of wine. Keep your eyes peeled for Taps & Barrels (a self-service beer hall), Tachi Ramen, and EVOQ hair salon in the months ahead, with more businesses to come. The timing couldn’t be better. The Southwest Valley is on fire right now, with the Durango hotel and casino and UnCommons mixed-use development taking shape as new attractions in 2023. The Bend, a long-promised shopping and dining district, has been in a holding pattern for years but holds promise in an area where everything is getting bigger and better.

Meanwhile, the team behind Evora is staking a claim with Di Caudio running the kitchen at Basilico. The chef’s recent collaboration with Chef Oscar Amador helped Anima by EDO score a recent James Beard Award nomination and reputation as one of the best new restaurants in Las Vegas. Di Caudio first came to Las Vegas to work at Zeffirino at the Grand Canal Shoppes-a gig he expected to last about six months before returning home. Instead, he stuck around and continued to build his reputation at culinary destinations like Sinatra at the Wynn and Ferraro’s off the Strip.

Ultimately, Basilico will be a restaurant to keep an eye on as it develops under Di Caudio’s guidance. The menu will shift and evolve based on the chef’s preferences and the availability of seasonal ingredients. Di Caudio is also planning a smaller menu and social hour for the bar area and a reasonably priced tasting menu with around 10 dishes served family style.

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Rob Kachelriess¬†has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than nine years. In addition, his work has appeared in¬†Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and¬†Luxury Estates International’s seasonal publication. Follow him on Twitter¬†@rkachelriess.

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