Chef David Middleton left to open DB Brasserie, and consulting chef Alex Stratta is now developing two local restaurants of his own, but if you thought neighborhood favorite Marche Bacchus might fall off after those departures, think again.
The French bistro in Desert Shores has acquired the services of one of the city’s top Italian chefs, Luciano Pellegrini.
The James Beard Award winning-chef was a longtime partner of famed California restaurateur Piero Selvaggio and helmed Valentino at Venetian on the Strip for 14 years. Pellegrini has kept busy building DolceVita Gelato since Valentino closed last year, and will continue to work on his own projects while serving as consulting chef at Marche Bacchus.
The hire was inspired by a summer vacation. Restaurant owners Jeff and Rhonda Wyatt recently returned from a trip to Italy, specifically Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast.
“We came back so inspired by the incredible pasta dishes we tried. Everything was just so good,” Rhonda Wyatt said. “We’d always had a pasta on the menu and came away thinking, why not move in a little more of Mediterranean direction? We’re certainly not replacing any of the classics, and we’re not becoming an Italian restaurant. We’re just expanding the menu a bit.”
And if you want pasta, who’s better than Pellegrini? The chef has been friends with the Wyatts for years and said he is looking forward to helping run the French bistro “without Italianizing it too much.”
“It’s not really a challenge at all,” Pellegrini said. “I can do a little French. Classic French cuisine is part of my training, but frankly, you can take all of Europe and sometimes the differences between dishes can be minute.
“And of course, Marche Bacchus is one of the best restaurants in the city, and since Jeff and Rhonda took it over they have always strived to improve and make it better. This city is becoming a serious restaurant city and that includes the suburbs.”
Pellegrini has only recently joined the team, which includes executive chef Jose Aleman. They will take their time in creating pastas to add to the menu and considering other ways to tweak the food and experience. “It will be a slow change,” Pellegrini said. “It’s not going to be a Luciano Pellegrini menu, just a little more influence. It’s still Marche Bacchus, and there are certainly some favorites that are untouchable. It has a reputation for a reason.”