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Streets of New York

Norman Rockwell Lane, the address is, and to turn onto it from Farm Road is to step into a bit of Americana, or at least a faux version along the lines of Town Square or The District at Green Valley Ranch: trees filled with twinkling lights, a sort of village green with a statue (we couldn’t make it out in the darkness, but we’re assuming it was Norman himself), independently owned shops with upstairs offices or apartments, contemporary jazz coming from a speaker somewhere. It didn’t look much like the streets of New York, but Streets of New York fits right in.

Maybe that’s because Streets of New York actually hails from Phoenix, and this rapidly growing part of Las Vegas near Durango Drive and the northern Beltway feels an awful lot like Scottsdale, Ariz. The restaurant does, too — sorta-upscale casual, sorta tile-and-woodsy, neat as a pin and relatively quiet but with enough TVs around that you could follow the baseball playoffs.

The menu is, as you would expect, New York vintage, but the service comes down firmly on the Scottsdale side, which means the servers are young, enthusiastic and polite. And overworked, on the evening of our visit, which made it clear that even in these challenging times, Streets of New York has enough going for it to have drawn a following in the five months it’s been open.

One reason, no doubt, would be the pizza, which was going by in plentiful numbers and for good reason: The New York combo (10 inch, $11.30; other sizes are available) was a disc of stretchy, just-crisp-enough dough, with bell peppers, onions, black olives, mushrooms, meatballs, sausage, pepperoni and mozzarella, none of them to excess (a plus for those of us who don’t quite understand the philosophy of weighing down the dough with pounds and pounds of stuff). And a good sauce, the lifeblood of any Italian restaurant, whether in New York or Scottsdale. Or Las Vegas.

We first sampled the sauce in an appetizer of meatballs ($6.25; sausage is another option). The guy who sits across the table from me is a hard-to-please Neapolitan/Sicilian who rarely meets a restaurant marinara he likes, but even he didn’t disagree with my assessment of a long-steeped, deeply flavored sauce that seemed to reflect the soul of a region if not an entire country. The meatballs were laudable, too — not too large and with not much filler, and moist inside.

Garlic cheese bread ($3.50) was remarkable only in that it did justice to the name — crusty bread, lots of garlic and a fair amount of stretchy cheese. A Caesar side salad ($3.95) was a little offbeat with the addition of tomato and red onion, but otherwise just a crunchy, creamy classic.

And a garlic chicken ($10.25) pasta dish was a nice mix of flavors and textures, with a creamy alfredo sauce, chewy sun-dried tomato, crisp onions and meaty chunks of garlic-infused chicken. From the pasta options, we chose penne, and it was perfectly al dente.

We had glasses of wine with dinner and it arrived in individual carafes, a growing practice but one that’s still not often seen at this price point. We also had glasses of ice water, which were refilled regularly although our server was zooming around to wait on all of her tables. The restaurant seems to do a thriving takeout business; we wondered what type of pizza the Great Dane, waiting patiently with his owner outside the door, was anticipating.

We hadn’t encountered this little enclave before, and would like to go back in daylight to get another look. It’s good to know we have a great place to eat if we do.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at 383-4676 or e-mail her at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com.

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