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Carla Pellegrino Tells the Tales Behind Her Tattoos

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Carla Pellegrino shows the storm tattoo on her back.
Carla Pellegrino shows the storm tattoo on her back.

Welcome to Show Us Your Tats, a feature in which Eater talks to Vegas’ tattooed chefs and gets the stories behind their most intriguing ink.

[Photos: Chelsea McManus]

Carla Pellegrino nearly lost three fingers last week on Top Chef: Seattle, an accident that could have cost her career if she would have been using a different knife. Now she wants to get a tattoo to cover the five stitches it took to hem them back together.

"I stabbed my hand and almost lost those three fingers filming a TV show," says Pellegrino, the chef behind Bratalian in Henderson and now Meatball Spot at Town Square. "I stabbed my hand with a boning knife. If it had been any other kind of knife, I would have lost my fingers."

Pellegrino got her first tattoo on her right shoulder at age 15 when she was still living in Brazil. "My mother kicked the shit out of me. I tried to ask her the day before my friend got one. I decided to get one anyway.

"She smacked me for the whole week," Pellegrino says. "I tried to do the right way, but then I did it my way."

She eventually covered those tattoos. "When someone tries to you clean up, you know it's time to cover it," she says.

Some of her artwork represents a change in her life, especially at age 40 when she ended her marriage with Frank Pellegrino Jr. of Rao's fame and changed her career. "I knew I had to change and I knew how hard it would be," she says. "If I can take 15 hours of pain I can go through everything. I knew how much it would hurt to change my whole life around." That became a storm tattoo, inked by Mario Barth's Starlight Tattoos at Mandalay Bay.

Other tattoos come around after accidents in the kitchen. A burn on her forearm became a script tattoo commemorating the women in her life. "These are the strongest women in my family," she says. "It looks better than that burn."
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Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina

10740 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson, NV 89052 702-454-0104 Visit Website

Meatball Spot

6605 Las Vegas Blvd. S. , Las Vegas, NV 89119 702-641-7768 Visit Website