RH: How did you find your seafood suppliers?
Bartolotta: Some were established relationships I had for many years, others were brand new that I cultivated. I spent a fair amount of time establishing these relationships.
RH: Is it true that people visiting Las Vegas eat much differently than they would at home?
Bartolotta: You get a mix. When you get corporate people entertaining, they want to put their best foot forward, and they're more likely to want to impress, so they buy a better bottle of wine and go for the "wow" factor. Then you get people on vacation, out to have fun. My restaurant is not just another Italian restaurant-it's an experience, so many people come here and say "this reminds me of Sicily," and because they've already had the fish in Italy they say "let's try something new." They're ready for the next level.
RH: Was it a big culture shock to move from Chicago to Las Vegas?
Bartolotta: My wife and I love living in Las Vegas. The weather is magnificent; we had 12 days of really hot weather last year. In South Carolina or Florida, you avoid being in the sun in the middle of day and stay in an air-conditioned house, car and work. Here, you never sweat, I get up every morning and look at the mountains. I couldn't be happier.
RH: Do you think this concept would succeed outside of Vegas?
Bartolotta: It would have to be city where there is a large population density, a Chicago or New York. It needs to be a large restaurant to have the buying power to make it worthwhile; otherwise, shipping is prohibitive.
RH: Would you do another project here?
Bartolotta: We will be doing a second restaurant in the next tower (to be constructed); it's not a matter of if but when and how. It will be something I've wanted to do for awhile. For me, it's about doing a number of different restaurants like the quintessential trattoria, a seafood concept and so on.