Well, I sure like what they’ve done with the place.
I’m talking about The D Las Vegas, which used to be the Fitz (always bringing to mind Grandma saying something was on the fritz), which used to be Fitzgeralds and before that the Sundance and maybe something before that, I have no idea.
Anyway, back when it was Fitzgeralds, I had occasion to get to know the place pretty well. Not much changed when it went on the Fitz, and I wasn’t expecting much from the most recent permutation. But wow. Wow, wow, wow. If I hadn’t known where I was, I wouldn’t have known where I was.
None of which would be germane here if the Kardashian-level face-lift didn’t extend to the restaurant, which it does. Well, there’s actually more than one restaurant, but the one I’m addressing this week is the heart and soul of any Las Vegas casino-hotel, the steakhouse and Italian restaurant, rolled into one in the form of Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Steakhouse.
They’ve put a new, dramatic entrance on the place. Get off the escalator, turn to your right and you enter a longish brick-lined, vaulted-ceilinged passageway, with lights recessed into the floor. Make your way along the space into the restaurant and you’ll encounter the old-Vegas vibe the owners are clearly embracing for the whole property, which seems like a really good idea for downtown. Booths are old-school high and curved, centered with Edison bulbs dangling from above and separated by lush draperies. Music is Sinatra and Buble, the millenials’ Sinatra. Waiters are in white dinner jackets, which ought to take you back to the Rat Pack era even if you weren’t there the first time.
It all sets expectations for an elegant evening with top-notch food and service, and for the most part Andiamo delivers.
We started with a basket that contained grissini, crostini and some crusty bread. The crostini were awfully heavy on the salt, but the grissini were nice and with the proferred Sicilian salad/condiment caponata, so was the bread. The caponata was a classic preparation, largish pieces of soft eggplant and a perfect balance between sweet and slightly sour, which made it a fitting complement to the crusty bread.
For another starter? A meatball. If a restaurant’s management offers a meatball, all by itself, as an appetizer, it means they’re proud of it, and justly so, in this case ($9). When our waiter brought the baseball-sized meatball he offered to cut it, which provided an escape for the steamy heat. Inside all was moist, fragrant with garlic and basil, with melted cheese cloaking the top and a deeply flavored marinara surrounding it.
Our waiter enthused over the lobster bisque ($8) and no wonder; it was velvety and rich with just enough sherry to haunt.
We split the difference on our entrees, between the steakhouse and the Italian aspects of the menu. On the former side we had an 8-ounce filet mignon that was nicely charred but with a truly rare center and more flavor than we usually find in a filet. This, however, was where one of the service flaws came in. The menu offers a taste of one of three sauces (or all three for a fee), and we thought the Andiamo Signature Zip Sauce would be the way to go. The problem was that our waiter forgot it, and didn’t appear to ask us about things until we were well into the steak. Reminded, he apologized and brought the sauce, which was surprisingly unzippy, just sort of buttery and salty. I hope the others are significantly better.
Creamed spinach ($8) was very nice, fresh-tasting, suitably creamy, subtly seasoned.
And from the Italian side we chose the Pappardelle with Veal Ragu ($28), the broad, velvety ribbons of pasta cloaked with a nicely chunky Bolognese-style sauce with lots of depth, lots of contrasts and layers and all of that good stuff. Tomato-based sauces have a tendency to be overly salty but that wasn’t the case here.
But there was another service flaw: Honoring the old-Vegas tradition, we’d started with cocktails, and when our waiter asked, we ordered glasses of wine. He brought the little minicarafes very soon after our cocktails, before our appetizers had arrived. He seemed to catch it himself and mumbled something about letting the wine breathe, but this was clearly an error in timing. Other than those two glitches, though, service was smooth.
As was our experience overall. I had been a little surprised, some time ago, when I came across Andiamo’s menu prices, but in reality, they didn’t seem out of line. The D is helping to bring back the spirit of old Vegas, and its primary restaurant bears that out.
Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474.