Limoncello Is Only Takeoff for This Flight

LAS VEGAS ( MainStreet) -- From his grandmother's kitchen in Italy to the lights of the Las Vegas Strip, executive chef Vincenzo Scarmiglia's flight of 'cellos have become legend.

TravelsinTaste found out that Scarmiglia is the only chef in the country serving five unique twists on the classic Italian after-dinner liqueur, limoncello, each paired with a unique, perfectly harmonizing petit four at Sirio Ristorante in Aria Resort and Casino.  

Made with nothing but lemons, alcohol, water and sugar, the nectar of the gods known as limoncello has long been a signature after-dinner digestive for those along the Amalfi Coast. After the tutelage of his grandmother and mother in Italy, Scarmiglia learned to take his own spin on the classic spirit by creating a mix to macerate for two weeks and combining it with simple syrup. Native lemons added to the special flavor even after Scarmiglia moved to the states, creating an Americanized version of the drink while serving as executive chef at Circo at Bellagio, a diamond in the restaurant empire of the Maccioni family (which includes one of New York's most coveted reservations, Le Cirque).

The recipe proved so popular that he continued the tradition upon becoming executive chef at Sirio Ristorante. Sommeliers there encouraged him to test new flavors. After experimenting with a multitude of ingredients, including tomatoes, cucumbers and even flower petals, Scarmiglia perfected the flight he serves today:
  • Classic limoncello: A faithful interpretation of Italy's famous after-dinner liqueur. Perfected for years and paired with a coconut macaroon, Scarmiglia's recipe transports guests to the heart of Italy with just one taste.
  • Tangerinecello: For something fruity with a kick. The 'cello master takes a unique approach with the cookies petit four by baking them with polenta, bringing the flavors of the dessert and the 'cello together in perfect harmony.
  • Berrycello: Scarmiglia's Berrycello brings fresh berry taste to life with a kick. The raspberry vacherin and creme anglaise served alongside heighten the berry flavor, creating an explosion of tastes that would delight anyone's palate.
  • Cocoacello: "Who doesn't love chocolate?" Scarmiglia asks of his Cocoacello, which is paired with cocoa nib cookies. For those pining for vanilla, though, there's no need to skip this one. To enhance flavor and smoothness of certain 'cellos, Scarmiglia recommends adding a dash of vanilla; in this case, the detail perfects this chocolate-infused concoction.
  • Trufflecello: The most requested flavor on the menu. The classic sweetness of limoncello reaches new heights when complemented by earthy undertones of the elusive umami. Scarmiglia further plays on foodies' love for truffle mushrooms by pairing it with a truffle chocolate brownie.

Though playful, these 'cellos are hard work. It takes up to three weeks to make each batch of the libations, never mind the time it took to create the perfect flavors and find their pairings. "These 'cellos have a rich Italian history behind them," says Michael Shetler, Aria's director of beverage. "They are a tribute to chef Scarmigila's upbringing and we are proud to serve them to our guests at Sirio."