In Las Vegas one can always find something fresh, new and a little bit crazy, and Superfrico, the restaurant and bar inside Spiegelworld, is no exception.
This concept is part of The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas and plays into Spiegelworld's long history of immersive theater, which started in 2006 in New York City. The team brings that interactive aspect to Superfrico, a restaurant that has four unique spaces with in it, one of which is the cold-weather themed Ski Lodge bar, complete with a roaring eco-friendly fire, snow falling through the fake picture window and an après ski party vibe.
Another space is the salon-style dining room called The Artery, which is the main area where guests sit down for dinner. Colorful art adorns this space from floor to ceiling thanks to curator Heather Harmon. More than 20 contemporary artists are featured, including work by muralist Lisa Stolist, who decorated the walls of the restaurant. Find out just what you're looking at by requesting the Artery Bible, a menu of sorts showcasing the artists and pieces decorating the space.
Pair that with the food menu, which is dubbed “Italian American Psychedelic” — based on Italian food but with influences from all over. For example, clam pizza is topped with osetra caviar, and lamb ragù is laced with lemon labneh and za’atar seasoning. Meatballs made with dry-aged beef are flavored with saffron, pine nuts, golden raisins, mint, pistachios and honey.
The menu also involves pizza by pizzaiolo Anthony Falco and a drinks program created by James Beard Award-winning mixologist Leo Robitschek. We spoke with Superfrico's executive chef Mitch Emge, who previously worked for Omni Hotels and Resorts; as well as bar manager Mauro Villalobos, who worked closely with Robitschek on the Ski Lodge Bar and had a previous bartender stint at The NoMad Hotel in Las Vegas.
Superfrico and all its side components — Ski Lodge, The Artery, The Bottle-O takeout drinks shop and another dining room called The Studio that has a live DJ — are on level two of the Chelsea Tower inside The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. It opened in September and can seat around 200 people.
Restaurant Hospitality: What is Italian American Psychedelic food?
Superfrico executive chef Mitch Emge: At its core, this is a menu that challenges your senses and perceptions of what something should taste like. Italian American Psychedelic bends genres through the choice of ingredients, flavor combinations, preparation methods, and even presentation methods while staying true to Sicilian roots and traditions.
Spiegelworld worked with international pizza czar Anthony Falco on a menu concept that honors the recipes and traditions passed down by generations of Sicilian family cooks while taking fearless detours with ingredients and techniques. From a culinary perspective, the menu is an open-minded, all-senses-overloaded take on grandma’s favorites, including Falco’s showcased selection of pizza perfection, plus fresh pasta dishes, steaks, seafood, small plates, signature desserts, and late-night finales.
RH: How did you guys come up with the non-pizza menu?
ME: The interactive Superfrico concept is an all-night establishment that promises to break down the walls between fine dining and the anything-goes, submersive splurges that Las Vegas visitors crave. It's a collaboration between master craftsmen who love Vegas and wanted to do something truly extraordinary, especially when it comes to Vegas standards.
RH: As a chef, what drew you to this project?
ME: Many aspects drew me to becoming one of the opening team. The fact that this was a completely new concept, the ultimate, be-all, end-all, taste-all house party and made for Vegas was really enticing. I also saw this as an opportunity for professional growth at the same time as having a familiarity with the kitchen and the staff due to my relationship with The Cosmopolitan. Stepping outside of your comfort zone allows you to see how much you've grown as an individual and professional. I was excited to take those next steps.
RH: Do the food and art intersect?
ME: I would like to think that food is art. The juxtaposition of the food and art is what makes Superfrico so unique to the Strip. Vegas is a transportive destination that never ceases to amaze. That being said, originality is extremely difficult to achieve these days, but I believe we have captured this with all the quirks and surprises one would expect from Spiegelworld.
RH: With so many food and drink choices, where should diners start?
ME: Superfrico can be what you want it to be — psychedelic and ambiguous in its definition. If I was to highlight a few dishes, for that classic feel-good Italian-American experience then a chicken parm atop spaghetti pomodoro is for you. If you are feeling more adventurous and are ready to lean into the audacity that is Superfrico, enjoy fun and modern takes on Italian American food such as our calamari served with grilled scallion and tangerine honey; Mishima wagyu beef cheek ravioli with roasted mushroom and shaved truffle; hamachi crudo made with finger limes and yuzu, or the meatballs Siciliano that take you on a journey with unusual hints of mint, pistachio and honey. We also offer a seasonal tasting menu to bridge the gap of both.
RH: What's the philosophy behind the drink menu?
Superfrico and Ski Lodge bar manager Mauro Villalobos: We just want to make really dope things. We go completely off-menu with our approach to creative cocktails and hospitality. We take pride in what we do down to the last ingredient including fresh juices to syrups and infusions made in-house. Our philosophy is centered around being master craftsmen in cocktail culture. Our entire concept was born in Las Vegas, for Las Vegas, by people who truly love Vegas. Like the city itself, we’ve opened our doors to the world’s finest artisans—each a master of their craft, and that definitely goes for our bar teams at Superfrico and the Ski Lodge.
RH: What can guests expect when ordering drinks?
MV: Our drinks hold integrity while always being multi-dimensional. One thing we pride ourselves on is every cocktail being perfectly balanced. There is a depth, whimsy, and psychedelic nature to every drink on the menu, always something that challenges the norm, which is true to the essence of the Superfrico concept and experience.
RH: What's the coolest vessel you use?
MV: One of our most audacious creations is called the Cocktail Explosion. It’s a cocktail magnified. A 64-ounce dispenser gets filled with a delicious cocktail that serves six to eight people and a spigot that makes it perfectly interactive and sharable. When it comes out, it’s a spectacle and everyone goes 'What is that!' The cocktail is served over a mountain of pebble ice and garnished with fresh fruit and mint, so it’s the ultimate and most jaw-dropping punch-style drink you’ll ever see and taste.
RH: Aside from the Cocktail Explosion, what drink wows guests the most?
MV: The Slava Snowstorm always gets a huge reaction. It’s a multi-layered drink. Cold on the bottom, hot on the top. The bottom is essentially an espresso martini topped with a layer of hot, toasted coconut cream and cardamom. It’s our take on a White Russian. It might sound unique by description but testimonials from guests often end with, “It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”
RH: Do you use any special ingredients at the bar?
MV: We use a lot of special ingredients. Everything we do we make in-house. One thing I am particularly proud of is our orgeat, which is something that is time-consuming and challenging to create. At the Ski Lodge, we also create a green tea-infused yogurt. We take Genmaicha green tea and turn it into syrup and infuse the yogurt [with it] for a viscous liquid that is show-stopping and delicious when mixed in a cocktail.
RH: Does it take long to get a cocktail?
MV: We have really perfected and innovated our use of ingredients and how we prepare before service to ensure a delicious cocktail without a wait time. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes before you drink. For example, our Pizza Party cocktail is a Negroni, but infused with plum tomatoes, olives, and basil. It tastes exactly like a Margherita pizza. We steam-cook these ingredients, letting the concoction sweat out all the extra elements, so that we are left with a perfectly balanced Negroni with depth and surprise in its flavor profile that is ready to pour.
RH: What is your favorite drink to make?
MV: I personally love spirit-forward cocktails and stirred drinks. Overall, a Red Hook cocktail, a variation of a Manhattan, is one of my favorite cocktails to make. I love making this drink because of the challenge. It can be easy to mess up. Our own Manhattan variation on the menu is called Penguins Take Manhattan. Bourbon, rum, and sherry infused with black sesame balance this cocktail out perfectly in terms of sweetness and bitterness. It’s extremely delicious and comes out in a Nick and Nora glass with half of the glass coated in a white chocolate shell so it resembles a penguin.