Last Updated on July 8, 2022 by Jeremy
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Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar has been a staple in the Strip District for well over a decade with its seafood and chophouse-focused menu and prized cigar bar tucked away in a back room.
We were able to visit this one to check out the seasonal summer menu as guests of the restaurant for a media night, and have to admit we can see the allure of this gem on Railroad Street!
Note: Many of the appetizers we sampled were served family-style for the event. As such, our photos may not be representative of true portion size.
Cioppino's Focus on Seasonal Ingredients Shines
During our visit to Cioppino, we were able to sample many of the dishes found on their summer menu. But in this one, we wanted to share a few that we thought highlighted these seasonal ingredients the absolute best.
For drinks, the theme of summer was highlighted perfectly in the Seasonal Old Fashioned (with Big Springs Peach whiskey as a base, smoked peach, simple syrup, lemon, and rhubarb bitters) and the Surging Summer (Resurgent Rye, pomegranate puree, honey syrup, and lemon) had a refreshing balance of acidity and sweetness. Our only regret was that many of the cocktails were served over ice chips, which we think can water down a drink a bit too quickly for our liking. That being said, these didn't last all too long on a hot summer day, either.
On the appetizer front, we sampled many dishes including the mussels and yellowfin tuna ceviche. While these were fairly limited in seasonal ingredients, and thus stayed to more traditional flavor pairings like jalapenos and shallots on the ceviche and pancetta and corn on the mussels, their ample amount of seafood (especially in the ceviche) was hard to overlook.
All seafood and little filler? We're here for that. Although we have to admit that the pancetta in the mussels added a nice depth of richness that we could go for in all future mussel orders.
The only downside to these? Both dishes felt significantly undersalted, so much so to the point that we wish we could've added more at the table ourselves. As such, some of the flavors overall were quite muted from what they otherwise could've been.
On the entree front, Angie opted for an order of scallops and I ended up going with the rack of lamb, pairing each with glasses of wine from the restaurant's impressively large wine menu.
The seasonal ingredients were front and center in both of these dishes. The generously-sized scallops were seared to perfection and served on top of a bed of quinoa, roasted tomatoes, grilled corn, and topped with a light spread of chimichurri. At first, this one sounded like an odd combination, but the bright and vibrant corn and tomato worked nicely to offset the richness of scallops. A perfect summer combination if there ever was one.
The rack of lamb was served on an expressively tart rhubarb chutney with crispy layered potatoes and rapini. Much like with the scallops, you generally don't expect an acidic sauce of this nature with lamb, but the flavors worked out so well that we want to make our own rhubarb chutney at home to recreate this pairing- it really is hard to go along with a perfect balance of acid and fat. Even better is that our entrees did not suffer from the same lack of salt the appetizers did and ended up being delightful orders all around.
For dessert, our table was able to sample the strawberry cheesecake sandwich and chocolate torte cake to name a few. We, sadly, skipped the cheesecake sandwich due to allergy concerns (although we heard rave reviews) but the chocolate torte cake can simply be described as decadent. Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache? It is hard to want for more chocolate with this rich finisher.
Overall, we were quite pleased to see a traditional seafood and chophouse like Cioppino leaning in heavily on seasonal ingredients, and apart from our concern about the lack of salt in the appetizers we really had an enjoyable meal here. Now we're curious about checking out other seasonal menus to see what unique ingredients find their way into these classic dishes!
Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar is located at 2350 Railroad Street in the Strip District. We were guests of Cioppino for this dinner. As always, all opinions are our own.