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The Dish/What's new in city dining: Wild Earth Cucina Italiana

Photos by Dan Bishop

January 2013

Wild Earth Cucina Italiana — the name suggests a sensory feast on Italy’s coast looking down from an oversized window to a raging sea, or perhaps a view of a rolling hillside in Tuscany.

The cuisine, designed by chef Audrey Vandenburgh and sous chef Maggie Haller, features Italy’s diverse regional specialties, including our dinner choices, Laughing Bird Shrimp Flatbread and Bell and Evans Chicken. With the flatbread, Vandenburgh took bits and pieces of classic Italian dishes to make something that celebrated the sum of its parts. She layered shrimp, pesto, pancetta, fresh mozzarella and arugula on crisp flatbread and finished it under the grill. Arugula or "rocket," as its known in Italy, grows wild everywhere there and adds zing to any dish. It’s also a player in the Roasted Beet Salad along with Gorgonzola cheese, toasted pine nuts, dried cherries and red wine vinaigrette.

The herb-marinated rotisserie half-chicken (tender, juicy) came with garlic-grilled escarole, spinach and delicious creamy, cheesy polenta. Chef serves the chicken three ways, as the aforementioned entrée, on flatbread or in Chicken Carbonara: spaghetti with asparagus, mushrooms and pancetta in a Parmesan cream sauce.

Other Italian-inspired dishes include Calamari Fritti and risotto fritters with sweet pepper aioli from the appetizer menu and Caprese salad (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and pesto), a house signature dish. Another signature dish, Frutti di mare on the pasta menu, combines linguini with shrimp, scallops, calamari, clams and mussels in a white wine broth with fennel and tomatoes.

Because of its location inside the casino, we wouldn’t call Wild Earth a destination restaurant, but for a quick, delicious, reasonably priced dinner, it’s a go. It’s also tastefully decorated with stone-infused pillars to inject a touch of wild; quiet, with soft jazz in the background; and for winners and/or losers, a respite from the tables.


This story ran in the January 2013 issue of: