Repertoire: Classic Marinara


180360_MarinaraWhen I first started cooking, nearly everything I made was Italian. I had worked in a family-run Italian restaurant for many years and had tried (unsuccessfully) to replicate their marinara at home. To me, it was the quintessential red sauce, but like everything else food-related, that’s all a matter of personal taste.

There are many disagreements on which ingredients should or should not be included in a true marinara sauce. I’ve tried several over the years but keep coming back to two particular sauces; one slow and one fast (I’ll share this recipe soon). They are both staples in our house and I couldn’t pick a favorite between them if I had to. 

I’ve been making this slow-cooked marinara almost every month for well over 10 years. It’s not the same as the one at my old restaurant but it certainly evokes a classic Italian Nonna’s recipe. This one is a chunkier version, with a proper soffritto, and a depth that can only be achieved by simmering on the stove for at least 5 hours. 

I prefer to make a huge pot so that any extra can be frozen or jarred. It’s such a great time saver on busy nights!






Classic Marinara
  1. 3 large onions or 6 small onions
  2. 1 whole garlic bulb
  3. 6 carrots (peeled)
  4. 6 stalks of celery
  5. 1 1/2 cups of extra-virgin olive oil
  6. 6 - 28oz cans of crushed tomatoes
  7. 6 bay leaves
  8. Salt and Pepper
  9. Butter (optional)
  1. Chop onion to a small dice and mince garlic finely. Heat oil briefly in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and sauté until nearly translucent. In the meantime, chop carrots and celery (small dice) and add to pot. Season with salt and pepper again then sauté until the carrots and celery have softened (knife easily slides through). Add canned tomatoes and bay leaves. Stir sauce really well. Bring to a soft boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 5 hours or more. Stir regularly. Sauce should thicken and reduce a bit. Cool, then remove bay leaves before using or storing.
  1. Optional: Once the sauce is finished, you can add up to 6 TBL of butter to round out the flavors.
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Scout: Bronze Cafe


Every year, without fail, I’m asked by a handful of visitors, “Where should we eat while we’re in Las Vegas?” And as if by the powers of association, my mind starts spinning like a slot machine with all of the possibilities. “Strip or Off-Strip? How much money do you want to spend? What type of food do you want to eat? Casual or Fancy?” ACKKKK!!!!! There are literally so many places to choose from my brain inevitably shuts down and I can’t think of anything at all. It’s embarrassing! I’m determined to change this, but it is truly hard, so we’ll start with baby steps. Actually, we’ll start with the most obscure place of all… The Bronze Cafe

I discovered this little gem via my bestie Jessica who happened to move to DTLV (downtown) earlier this year. She kept mentioning this as a favorite and I was like, “What?! Where? I’ve never heard of it.” That’s the problem you see. There are constantly new restaurants popping up all across town, all of the time. After about the 3rd mention, I looked it up and quickly discovered it was a favorite of many people (rated #2 on Yelp) and that it had been there for a year and a half. (SIGH) The next day, I high-tailed it downtown to see what the fuss was all about. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.


The food is delicious, healthful, and all made from scratch with a focus on vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. But if you’re an omnivore like me, don’t let that put you off. They also have bacon! The cafe serves coffee, juice, pastries/baked goods, soup, salad, sandwiches and sides.

It’s located in the The Center (our local Gay + Lesbian Community Center) and run by Chef Peter Bastien (of Osteria Mozza fame) and his business partner David Mozes. Many of the items have playful names like, “The What What” and “The LGBTQ.”  I’m absolutely in love with the “Complicated Order” sandwich (bacon jam, FTW!). I’m also addicted to their kale salads, specifically “The Bizness” and “David’s Special.” The sides they put on top are the best – curried quinoa, spiced chickpeas, beet salad, house-made seitan, roasted chicken. The vegan “Tree of Life” pita is another favorite with it’s pickled onions, cashew crema, and brazil nut crumble. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! I’ve also tried a few of their baked goods and all have been fantastic. Plus they’ve got a special, cold-brew iced coffee made from a Japanese-style drip tower. 

(Excuse the lousy photos. I took these quickly before scarfing everything down.)


Honestly, the only downfall for me is that it feels too much like a Starbucks at an airport or a library. I wish it was a stand alone restaurant because the food deserves better presentation than take away boxes and the atmosphere feels far too casual for the quality of the food. Luckily, there’s some outdoor seating or you can always take the food to go.

But truth be told, the people that work there are so incredibly friendly and the food is simply so delicious, I’d probably eat it any way they handed it to me. 

401 S Maryland Pkwy
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 202-3100