Photo Credit: Bronson Loftin
The new Azzurra Cucina Italiana, situated south of the America First Center (formerly Lifeguard Arena) and City Hall, is adding to the revival of Water Street, and is certainly an added reason to venture to Old Henderson.
The kitchen is helmed by Alessandra Madeira and the front of the house GM duties are ably handled by her husband, Walter Ciccone, both of whom many will remember from the same partnership when they operated Bratalian.
The intimate space only has seats for 30 guests, and as the restaurant is fully booked every night, unless you make a reservation, you’ll need to hope one of the seven seats at the bar are available.
There is a very cozy and relaxed vibe, and the décor features large windows allowing for plenty of natural light and a view of Water Street, white brick walls, open kitchen and enchanting artwork depicting dogs in Renaissance period garb with food and wine glasses floating around them in the air. As Azzurra is Italian for blue, it’s fitting that the color scheme is well represented with shades of light blue found in the chairs and a darker steel blue in the cushions and menu covers.
Chef Allesandra has spent the past two decades working for her famous sister Carla Pellegrino (known for her numerous TV appearances on shows such as Top Chef), first in NYC at Baldoria, and in Las Vegas at Rao’s, Baccio, Meatball Spot and Bratalian. Now with this new restaurant she is breaking out on her own.
When asked which are her favorite dishes on Azzurra’s menu, she listed the (gluten free) Zucchini Noodles served with shrimp, and as she has many followers from Bratalian, she brought back the pan-seared double cut Pork Chop Agrodolce with chili peppers and white wine sauce.
Other must-haves on the menu include the Grilled Octopus (the most tender I have ever encountered); Roasted Beet Salad with baby spring mix lettuce with balsamic vinaigrette topped with goat cheese; Chicken Marsala with mushrooms and a delicious Marsala wine sauce served with mashed potatoes; and the humongous Chicken Parmesan, which Chef Alessandra says is the same as the one she used to make at Bratalian, but she has made it her own, by upgrading it with a basil ricotta cream topping.
The dessert menu changes daily, and pretty much every day you can expect something creative and fun like Passionfruit or Hazelnut Panna Cotta, Tiramisu, Ricotta Cheesecake and Nutella or Chocolate Cake.
The wine list offers about 60 bottles, 18 of which are offered by the glass, like the Valtiglioni Barolo and Daou Cabernet. There’s also an extensive whiskey list, with gems such as Nevada-made Frey Ranch Bourbon, the Japanese Nikka Whiskey Coffey Grain and the Scottish McCallan 18 Year.
After several years of being in her celebrity chef sister’s shadow, with this new venture it appears Chef Alessandra has broken out into her own spotlight, as the presentation of creative dishes with her own spin is shining a light on her many talents in the kitchen. Hours are Mon.-Sat. 4-10 p.m. Don’t forget to make a reservation! 322 South Water Street, 702-268-7867