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Ferraro’s food delicious but host’s rudeness leaves bad taste in the mouth

As he showed us to our table, the maitre d’/host at Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar walked to one of the chairs and pulled it out for me. I smiled and nodded to the other chair, stepping up to it. He said, "Oh! These chairs are heavy!" and hustled over to pull it out for me. Fine. But then, as he walked away, he said, "Thank you for doing my job for me."

Well, that was one.

With a great flourish, he presented the wine list to the man across the table, "This is for you, Signore."

Two.

After our appetizer was served, he addressed the man at the table, "Is everything all right, Signore?"

Three.

Asking us if our entrees were OK, to which we both replied in the affirmative, he said, "Thank you, Signore."

Four, and at this point I was starting to wonder if he was trying to insult me or if it just came naturally.

My reason for choosing the other chair was professional — the position was easier for note taking ­– but that was really none of his business; he should have been happy to accommodate a customer with so simple a request. And he really needs to get out of the Pleistocene era.

Luckily, our waiter was born in this century. Well, OK, he was born in the last century, but you know what I mean. When the man across the table, who absolutely hates to choose the wine, handed the list to me with a chuckle, our perceptive waiter got it immediately, asking me for the wine selection and addressing us equally, even putting the check in the center of the table after we’d finished.

Smart man. And good-natured, despite the fact that Pleistocene Man had seated us in his station immediately after seating a very large party there, while numerous tables elsewhere remained open for the duration. And a really good waiter, in that he was able to handle all of his tables with charm and aplomb.

I’m not a feminist poster child but after an association longer than we sometimes like to remember, the man across the table and I have abandoned silly role playing. I wish Pleistocene Man would do the same. Ferraro’s is near the Convention Center; what does he do when he encounters a visiting female CEO dining with her male administrative assistant?

But enough; let’s get to the food. Ferraro’s counts its osso buco as a specialty, and it seems to be the subject of endless debate, with opinions coming to me from both extreme ends of the spectrum. So of course we had to try it ($43), and here’s where we weigh in: This is one of the best renditions of osso buco we’ve ever had.

Somebody once complained to me that Ferraro’s overcooks its osso buco — hard to do when you’re braising something. Somebody else complained that it was dried out. Ditto, but all of that aside, the veal shank was perfectly succulent, falling-off-the-bone tender and moist with its own juices and a red-wine reduction. It was accompanied by farro, an inspired choice because it so perfectly complemented the texture of the meat. With a rustic texture and nutty flavor, it’s commonly used in Italy but much less so in this country, and it completed a very successful entree — osso buco as it was meant to be, even to the marrow fork for feasting on the bone.

An appetizer of Carpaccio Torcello, or beef carpaccio ($14), was the essence of classic simplicity and quite nicely prepared, the paper-thin raw beef topped by generous shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano plus a mountain of arugula, whose bitter austerity nicely played off the richness of the beef, and just a drizzle of truffle oil.

And, long believing that the red sauce is the lifeblood of any Italian restaurant, we decided to put Ferraro’s version to the test in the Rigatoni Polpette o Salsiccia ($20) — rigatoni with meatballs or sausage, to you and me. The housemade rigatoni nicely walked the delicate/al dente tightrope, and the sauce, though a little pulpy for our tastes, was deeply flavored and blissfully not oversalted.

And the meatballs? Quite nice — sort of soft but nowhere near mushy, and, in perhaps the ultimate compliment, evocative of those made by a much-beloved, long-departed Neapolitan grandfather.

Who, come to think of it, could’ve taught Pleistocene Man a thing or two.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-0474 or email her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.

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