23 places to go for Italian food


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.

B&B RISTORANTE

The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-266-9977

Signature dishes: Mario Batali’s beef cheek ravioli with black truffles and crushed duck liver, whole grilled branzino with summer squash and salsa verde.

BRATALIAN NEAPOLITAN CANTINA

10740 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson; 702-454-0104

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.)

Overall: A

$$

BUDDY V’S RISTORANTE

Grand Canal Shops, 3327 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-607-2350

This was one celebrity-chef restaurant that took us a little by surprise: a stellar red-sauce joint from TLC’s “Cake Boss,” Buddy Valastro. We loved the high-quality, updated-old-school food including Mozzarella in Carrozza, Valastro’s Sunday Gravy, My Dad’s Bucatini and a Buddy V signature dessert, the Lobster Tail. (3/28/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$$

CASA DI AMORE

2850 E. Tropicana Ave.; 702-433-4967

“Vegas the way it used to be,” trumpets Casa di Amore and they’re not kidding; it’s all there, from the live music to the old photos to the stereotypes strolling around the place. The food’s another story, though, updated and refreshed and taking the form of an unusual and very good appetizer-sized osso buco, Eggplant di Amore, Gnocchi Alla Prosciutto and a crisp and creamy cannoli. (12/20/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$$

CUSTOM BUILT ARTISAN PIZZA

4165 S. Grand Canyon Drive; 702-473-9918

We liked the pizzas at Custom Built; the Eggplant Parm Pizza was much better than other versions we’ve had, and the 1889 Pizza Margherita was a good execution of a classic, if a little light on the basil. Our main quibble had to do with the caprese salad, which had plenty of fresh basil and arugula but disappointing mozzarella. (5/2/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: B

$

DOM DEMARCO’S PIZZERIA &BAR

9785 W. Charleston Blvd.; 702-570-7000

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.)

Overall: A

$$

FERRARO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT &WINE BAR

4480 Paradise Road; 702-364-5300

Specialty dishes: osso buco, house-made pastas.

GAETANO’S RISTORANTE

10271 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson; 702-361-1661

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), Osso buco 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.)

Overall: A-

$$$

GINA’S BISTRO

4226 Durango Drive; 702-341-1800

Excellent service was one of the best things about Gina’s Bistro — an example being an errant knife being replaced by a fresh one brought on a plate — but it doesn’t overshadow the food, which was nearly flawless. We were particularly enamored of our Asparago in Cravatta, Veal Piemontese, an evening-special risotto with Gorgonzola cream sauce and shrimp and a cannoli, although the latter was accompanied by burned coffee. (9/27/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$$

GROTTO RISTORANTE

The Golden Nugget, 129 E. Fremont St.; 702-385-7111

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.)

Overall: A-

$$$

IL FORNAIO

New York-New York, 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-740-6403

Signature dishes: house-made and imported pastas, wood-fired pizzas.

LUNA ROSSA

10 Via Bel Canto, The Village at Lake Las Vegas, Henderson; 702-568-9921

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.)

Overall: A-

$$

MASTRIONI’S

3330 S. Hualapai Way; 702-367-7511

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.)

Overall: A

$$$

MONTESANO’S EATERIA

9905 S. Eastern Ave.; 702-870-3287

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.)

Overall: B

$$

NOVECENTO PIZZERIA NAPOLETANA

5705 Centennial Center Blvd.; 702-685-4900 (also at 9460 S. Eastern Ave.; 702-485-2900)

Authentic Neapolitan pizza — which is to say thin-crusted, stretchy and without an overload of toppings — is prepared in the 900-degree oven at the counter-style Novecento. We liked the white cheese version but also a stromboli, a truly excellent pasta e fagioli and the roasted beet salad, which was overdressed but otherwise very good. (10/25/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

OLD SCHOOL PIZZERIA

2040 E. Craig Road, North Las Vegas; 702-990-0070

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 house-made ranch. (3/8/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$

OSTERIA DEL CIRCO

Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-693-8865

Signature dishes: house-made pastas, grilled meats and fish.

THE PASTA SHOP

2525 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson; 702-451-1893

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.)

Overall: A

$$

PIERO’S ITALIAN CUISINE

355 Convention Center Drive; 702-369-2305

Signature dishes: Saltimbocca alla Romana, tiramisu.

PIZZA ROCK

201 N. Third St.; 702-385-0838

It’s all about the crust, which 11-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani proves with the four ovens (at four different temperatures) he uses at Pizza Rock. We loved the Neapolitan-style Margherita and the New Yorker, as well as the non-pizza starters of fried green beans and beer-battered artichokes. (2/7/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$

LE PROVENCAL

Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-862-5138

Signature dishes: artichoke Milanese with roasted garlic fondue, Bouillabaisse (served by singing wait staff).

ROCCO’S N.Y. ITALIAN DELI

1181 S. Buffalo Drive; 702-254-4777

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.)

Overall: A-

$$

SABATINO’S AUTHENTIC N.Y. PIZZERIA

7660 W. Cheyenne Ave.; 702-459-7437

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.)

Overall: A-

$$

 

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