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Home > FINE DINING > Las Vegas Fine Dining > Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare > Conversations with Chefs
Paul Bartolotta (Part 6 of 6)
Chef Bartolotta makes memorable meals for his customers. But he's eaten some pretty memorable meals himself, too. His most memorable was back in 1982 in Italy, and it wasn't in a restaurant or home. It was on the water. He had an opportunity when he was working in a little Italian village to go out with the fishermen. "So I arrived there in the middle of the night, about 1 or 2 in the morning," he recalls, "with a case of Monte Carlo Biancho white wine as a gift to the fishermen for taking me out. We set out and we rode for hours and hours and hours in the middle of that Friday night. It was a kind of an eerily calm early fall night, either the end of September or the beginning of October. It wasn't cold, but it wasn't really warm, either.

"We were driving straight out into the Mediterranean. We first dropped the nets and dragged for maybe an hour and a half or so as we were moving. Then we went out into the Mediterranean near Corsica. By daybreak we pulled the nets up and dropped all this amazing fish up on the back deck of the boat. We had been drinking Sambuca coffees all night long. I don't drink a lot of Sambuca, and I'm not a big alcohol drinker, so I'm a little looped already by 6 a.m.

"The guy at the center was a caller, who grabs the fish and throws it to you and you catch it and pack it in your crate. Everyone around you has a couple of cases. So he sorts the fish into various cases. As soon as we were done he made a mixed case in the center in this big plastic basket. All of a sudden he's reaching over and cleaning it and cutting it and rinsing it in water. Then he put a big pot of seawater on and they boiled spaghetti and cooked some canned tomatoes with garlic and onions, and they made this beautiful spaghetti with all this mixed seafood that had just come up from the ocean not 10 minutes before. They handed me a stainless steel bowl and I put it between my knees. You can imagine the guys with the little black caps on their heads - unshaven and missing teeth and their gnarly weathered hands - and here we are eating spaghetti a la pescatore at 7 a.m. A guy went down to the engine room to bring up a loaf of this beautiful Tuscan bread and he's slicing it, actually skewering it with a knife, and handing it to you. It smells a little like diesel fuel. I will never forget it. It was a great experience."

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