Each week Neon spotlights a different cuisine in the Dining Guide, with Italian restaurants this week. Restaurants are rated on a letter-grade scale, from A to F. Opinions by R-J critic Heidi Knapp Rinella (H.K.R.) are indicated by initials. Price symbols are based on the cost of an average entree: $ = entrees less than $10; $$ = entrees from $10 to $20; $$$ = entrees from $20 to $30; and $$$$ = entrees more than $30.
ANNIE’S GOURMET ITALIAN
1716 Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson; 254-3663
Annie’s offers patio seating and even a special menu for dogs, but it takes its role as a restaurant for humans very, very seriously. Service was perfect, the interior attractive and the food sublime, including stuffed mushrooms, a Caesar salad, veal Parmesan and shrimp scampi on linguine. (2/18/11 H.K.R.)
The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 266-9977
Signature dishes: Mario Batali’s beef cheek ravioli with black truffles and crushed duck liver, whole grilled branzino with summer squash and salsa verde.
BAMBINI’S PIZZERIA & ROTISSERIE
4090 W. Craig Road; 631-3555
Bambini’s serves ribs and rotisserie chicken but really it’s all about pizza and pasta and in those areas it definitely excels. Garden-variety spaghetti and meatballs had moist, well-seasoned meatballs and a red sauce that would make Nonna proud (even if the rigatoni was a little past al dente) and the same sauce lent credibility to a Pizza Margherita. We liked the small antipasto platter, too, and we’d never stop in again without ordering the garlic knots. (1/7/11 H.K.R.)
BRATALIAN NEAPOLITAN CANTINA
10740 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson; 454-0104
Who says you have to go to the Strip for great Italian food? You can get it — and at the hand of a Strip chef — in Henderson at Bratalian, a strip-center spot that’s quaint and colorful, with whimsical clotheslines dangling above the tables. Service and food were perfect, too, the latter including a classic Insalata Caprese, Linguine al Ragu and Pollo alla Milanese. (1/27/12 H.K.R.)
2642 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson; 407-6600
The fact that Buon Gusto flies under the radar but has been around for more than 10 years reveals the best testament to a restaurant: a crowd of regulars. Presentation isn’t anything special but we really liked the tiny place for the Italian wedding soup, stuffed mushrooms, California White Pizza and Eggplant Chef Cisco Style — and the oil-herb-balsamic blend served with the bread. (5/20/11 H.K.R.)
Grand Canal Shoppes, 3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 733-0070
Signature dishes: risottos, ravioli filled with pear and Parmigiano-Reggiano and tossed with asparagus and stracchino cheese cream sauce.
DOM DEMARCO’S PIZZERIA & BAR
9785 W. Charleston Blvd.; 570-7000
Pre-opening hype generally is inversely proportional to quality but in the case of Dom DeMarco’s it appears it was justified. We thoroughly enjoyed the Eggplant Pizzettes, the thick Di Fara Special pizza with its hand-sliced pepperoni and Gram’s Spaghetti & Meatballs, which had a sauce that tasted as though it had indeed been slowly cooked for long hours by someone wearing a hairnet and rolled-down stockings. (10/19/12 H.K.R.)
3555 S. Town Center Drive; 586-6500
Due Forni makes some pretty good pizzas in those two ovens — even if one is a flat-bread style crackery crust — but we really loved our starters, a vertically constructed beef carpaccio and bufala mozzarella with roasted tomatoes. But we were sure to save room for a great Neapolitan-style pizza Margherita and the crisp crust with a four-cheese blend that included a super Fontina. (10/14/11 H.K.R.)
ENZO’S PIZZA & RISTORANTE
2724 N. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson; 458-2166
I’m not sure what prompted me to order the white pizza at Enzo’s but I was awfully glad I did, because the lightly charred, stretchy crust had been topped with a creamy layer of smooth ricotta, a blanket of melted mozzarella and lots of garlic, for quite a satisfying combination. We thought the marinara, as served with the Pasta Norma, needed a little zip, but the garlic knots were wonderfully crisp-edged and garlicky. (11/11/11 H.K.R.)
Stratosphere, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 383-4860
Signature dishes: osso buco Milanese, pastas and pizzas.
FERRARO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT & WINE BAR
4480 Paradise Road; 364-5300
A not-so-welcoming host/maitre d’ notwithstanding we definitely enjoyed our dinner at Ferraro’s, which included the best osso buco we’ve had in a long time plus a delicate, perfectly executed beef carpaccio and lovely rigatoni with meatballs. Besides, a skilled waiter and truly delicious breads did much to smooth ruffled feathers. (12/2/11 H.K.R.)
10271 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson; 361-1661
Exceptional decor and atmosphere — especially for a restaurant outside the tourism corridor — sets the scene at this venerable strip-center spot, where attention to detail also shows in the service. It shows in the food, too, in carefully executed dishes such as Carciofi Fritti (fried baby artichokes to you and me), Ossobucco alla Milanese and Gnocchi con Gorgonzola, even if we found the gnocchi a tad (but just a tad) soggy. (5/24/13 H.K.R.)
The Golden Nugget, 129 E. Fremont St.; 385-7111
It’s a challenge for Italian restaurants to stand out from the crowd but the Grotto manages to do it with dishes such as cappellini-crusted mahi, which involves a thin layer of pasta on both sides of a fillet of fish, served with shrimp and a garlicky Sicilian tomato sauce. Also worthy of note was the Pollo Romano, chicken crusted with the cheese and served with a light wine sauce, the crusty bread with its cup of seasoned olive oil and the Cannelloni di Pollo, although its pasta was a little heavy. (2/8/13 H.K.R.)
New York-New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 740-6403
Signature dishes: housemade and imported pastas, wood-fired pizzas.
10 Via Bel Canto, The Village at Lake Las Vegas, Henderson; 568-9921
When we sort of stumbled into Luna Rossa on a chilly evening it was like coming in from the cold on a number of levels, in no small part because of the pleasant live piano music in the cozy dining room. But our experience was only heightened when we were served the Crostini della Tradizione with its crispy crust, sage, prosciutto and melted mozzarella; the rigatoni al funghi with vodka-infused pink sauce; and the Canelloni di Carni, whose tiny bit of dryness (in the filling) was saved by blankets of red and white sauces. (2/24/12 H.K.R.)
3330 S. Hualapai Way; 367-7511
As neighborhood Italian spots go, Mastrioni’s isn’t one; it’s something better. We liked the serene atmosphere (belying a strip-center location), smooth service (ditto) and great food, including a special of beef carpaccio, linguine with whole clams in white sauce, veal Parmesan and crunchy/creamy orange-laced and chocolate-embellished cannoli. (7/27/12 H.K.R.)
9905 S. Eastern Ave.; 870-3287
We weren’t charmed by Montesano’s overly soft meatballs and the cheese that we thought denigrated a sauce that needed no adornment, but we were charmed by the creativity that the kitchen shows in dishes such as the Lasagna Explosion (basically, fried lasagna), the tiny fried knots included in the bread basket and an entree of Veal Montesano, with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, garlic and potatoes. (7/26/13 H.K.R.)
OLD SCHOOL PIZZERIA
2040 E. Craig Road, North Las Vegas; 990-0070
Giovanni Mauro, former owner of Summerlin’s Nora’s Osteria, brings a similar artisanal focus to his tiny strip-center pizzeria in North Las Vegas. We loved the Vegas Meets Italy pizza with its dates, pistachios, arugula, prosciutto, triple-cream gorgonzola, scamorza and more, but also the roasted chicken with accompanying potatoes and garlic and some garlic knots, elevated above the crowd by a sprig of rosemary, cloves of roasted garlic and an herby housemade ranch. (3/8/13 H.K.R.)
OSTERIA DEL CIRCO
Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 693-8865
Signature dishes: housemade pastas, grilled meats and fish.
OTTO ENOTECA PIZZERIA
Grand Canal Shoppes, 3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 677-3390
Signature dishes: Mario Batali’s Sicilian eggplant caponata, house-cured salumi.
Boulder Station, 4111 Boulder Highway (and four other locations); 432-7777
Boulder Station’s Pasta Cucina — one of five at various Station Casinos properties — was close to perfection, which made its miss that much sadder. Chicken cannelloni had a rich, velvety sauce and ethereally delicate crepes, but they enfolded a filling that was too dry, and the rigatoni with sausage and meatballs would have been excellent had it been uniformly hot. And the Caprese Croutons had lots of promise, but their crouton rafts were just too hard. (6/1/12 H.K.R.)
THE PASTA SHOP
2525 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson; 451-1893
It’s no wonder The Pasta Shop Ristorante has endured over the years, surviving a move a while back from East Tropicana Avenue to Henderson: It offers a winning combination of great food and service in a convivial atmosphere. We liked the tomato-basil polenta topped with nuts, the Caesar salad and ciabatta with garlic and cheese that came with dinner and entrees of linguine with sausage and marinara and Chicken Davida with eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. (6/28/13 H.K.R.)
PIERO’S ITALIAN CUISINE
355 Convention Center Drive; 369-2305
Signature dishes: Saltimbocca alla Romana, tiramisu.
Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 862-5138
Signature dishes: artichoke Milanese with roasted garlic fondue, Bouillabaisse (served by singing wait staff).
Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South; (877) 346-4642
Signature dishes: lemon chicken, veal chop, meatballs.
ROCCO’S N.Y. ITALIAN DELI
1181 S. Buffalo Drive; 254-4777
Rocco’s has the feel of a New York deli, right down to the groceries on the shelves and the Brioschi on the counter. We didn’t need it, though, because we absolutely loved the fried ravioli, the longshoreman-sized baked ziti and the cannolis, and would’ve loved the huge Buffalo chicken salad with grape tomatoes and mozzarella and the side salad served with the ziti, if it hadn’t been for the restaurant’s sole use of iceberg lettuce. (1/2/12 H.K.R.)
SABATINO’S AUTHENTIC N.Y. PIZZERIA
7660 W. Cheyenne Ave.; 459-7437
We gotta be honest; we weren’t crazy about the ranchy-ranchy aspect of Sabatino’s Wild White pizza, although we did like the stretchy New York-style crust and the nicely balanced Buffalo chicken that topped it. We liked the garlic knots, too, and the veal Parmesan with its soulful red sauce, the budget-rescuing layered-and-compressed meat notwithstanding. (1/4/13 H.K.R.)
140 S. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson; 222-3556
When your pizza earns the approval of the Italian government you have to be doing something right, and Settebello seems to be doing everything right. Highly recommended: the Insalata and Caprese salads, Quatro Stagioni and Capricciosa pizzas and some of the most reasonable (and nice) Italian wines in town. (11/11/11 H.K.R.)
SIENA ITALIAN TRATTORIA
9500 W. Sahara Ave.; 360-3358
While far from minimalist the kitchen at Siena definitely knows when less is more, so we greatly enjoyed the warm bread with tapenade, the burrata and tomatoes, Struzzichini (marinated olives), stuffed rigatoni with mushrooms, tomato-cream sauce and just enough shrimp, and pinwheel sausage with peppers and cippollini onions. (4/8/11 H.K.R.)
Aria, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. South; (877) 230-2742
Signature dishes: build-your-own antipasti and cheese selections, fish and seafood.
TRATTORIA DEL LUPO
Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 740-5522
Signature dishes: pizza, pasta, antipasti and desserts made at exhibition stations.
The Forum Shops at Caesars, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 735-4663
Trevi provides some of the best people-watching in the country, but rest assured that the food and service ain’t bad, either. We liked the risotto cakes, the Fettucine al Pesto con Gamberi (fettucine with pesto and shrimp) and the Romano chicken, and the chance to linger over glasses of wine as we watched the good, the bad and the oh, so weird as it paraded on by. (9/23/11 H.K.R.)
WOLFGANG PUCK PIZZERIA & CUCINA
Crystals at CityCenter, 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 238-1000
Ironically, we weren’t particularly enamored with the pizza at Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina, which didn’t have much in the way of tomato sauce — or character, for that matter. But we were positively crazy about the bread served before our dinner and loved the starter of San Daniele prosciutto and burrata, the classic penne carbonara and a flourless-chocolate/hazelnut mousse cake for dessert. (12/16/11 H.K.R.)
Grand Canal Shoppes, 3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 414-3500
Signature dishes: pesto, fish.