Viva Italiano! The Las Vegas Love Affair with Italian Cuisine

by Jeff Heilman
Las Vegas Skyline (Photo by Randy Andy)

Italian cuisine commands the Vegas scene today. From yesteryear treasures and family institutions to world-class Strip restaurants and a sizzling pizza scene, it’s a classic story of food cooked and served with love.

(Photo by Randy Andy)

Las Vegas Resources

RESTAURANTS & BARS —THE STRIP
Amalfi by Bobby Flay. In 2020, following a hot16-year run, Flay closed his Mexican-driven Mesa Grill inside Caesars Palace. The space is charmed, because his coastal Italian successor concept, inspired by his travels to Italy, is another winner. Pick your fresh fish from the market-style display at the back and dive into great  tastes of the Mediterranean Sea. On the carne side, the 24-ounce bone-in ribeye is sensational. (3570 S Las Vegas Blvd. Tel: 702-650-5965. caesars.com/caesars-palace/restaurants/amalfi)

Balla Italian Soul (2535 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Tel: 702-761-7619. James Beard Best Chef winner Shawn McClain and his team invite you to “take your pleasure seriously” at his latest Vegas venture inside 1952 Strip icon SAHARA Las Vegas, now 71 years young following a sweeping $200 million renovation. And a serious pleasure it is at this new Strip-facing destination for bold, zesty Italian cuisine, refreshing cocktails, and eclectic wines. The Crispy Stuffed Peppers alone are worth the booking. (saharalasvegas.com)

Cipriani Las Vegas Shop ‘till you drop at Wynn Plaza and then treat yourself to a Bellini cocktail, beef carpaccio and other coastal Italian bites served with love at this Vegas outpost of the famed Cipriani brand. (2535 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Tel: 702-342-9600. wynnlasvegas.com)

Crossroads Kitchen Las Vegas Before opening this outpost of his nationally acclaimed West Hollywood all-vegan restaurant inside Resorts World Las Vegas, Israeli chef Tal Ronnen helped to create the foundation of Wynn’s comprehensive vegan dining program. He makes his Vegas mark again with seriously “good” Italian Mediterranean food. (3000 S Las Vegas Blvd. Tel: 702- 676-7978. crossroadslasvegas.com).

Matteo’s Ristorante Italiano Located on The Venetian’s Restaurant Row, this laid-back and inviting retreat greets you with a neon “Andiamo,” “Ciao,” “La Dolce Vita,” “Buon Appetito” and “Mangia” sign and then goes from there with a flavorsome Northern Italian menu. (3355 S Las Vegas Blvd. Tel: 702-414-1222. matteosvegas.com).

Sinatra. With culinary tributes including Frank’s Spaghetti & Clams, Ossobuco “My Way” and Veal Parmigiana, would Encore Las Vegas’s crown jewel fine dining room be Ol’ Blue Eyes’ kind of restaurant? You bet. (3131 S Las Vegas Blvd. Tel: 702-770-5320. wynnlasvegas.com).

Superfrico Tableside Mozzarella (Photo by Spiegelworld)

Superfrico Tableside Mozzarella (Photo by Spiegelworld)

Superfrico. Combining often X-rated entertainment with acrobatics and burlesque, Spiegelworld is a force to be reckoned with on the Vegas scene. Food is the center of attention at this vibrant “Italian American Psychedelic” concept however, and it delivers the goods, with theatrical elements including the mesmerizing tableside mozzarella pull. (The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Level 2, Chelsea Tower. 3708 Las Vegas Blvd South. Tel: 702-534-3419. superfrico.com).

DOWNTOWN & OFF-STRIP
Esther’s Kitchen. Many fans, me included, cannot get enough of Vegas native James Trees’ consistently superb Italian kitchen in the Arts District. Soon, there will be more to enjoy, with plans afoot to relocate to the Retro Vegas space just steps away. As Trees has said, it’s a bigger space, with adjoining courtyard, to further his ambitions, which include transforming the current Esther’s space into French bistro L’Aristocrat. (1130 S. Casino Center Blvd., Suite 110. Tel: 702-570-7864. estherslv.com).

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar. Don’t be fooled by the shopping plaza location. After 38 years and counting, Gino, Rosalba, Mimmo, Teresa, and other Ferraro family members have perfected their chops at this off-Strip institution. Gino works the room like a proud papa as regulars return time and again for traditional classics including the house specialty ossobuco and an international champion wine list. (4480 Paradise Road. Tel: 702-364-5300. ferraroslasvegas.com)

Piero’s Italian Cuisine. If these walls could talk, you might not make it out alive. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022, this old school standard setter has seen more celebrities through its doors than you can count, from mobsters and rockers to U.S. Presidents and Hollywood elite. It’s an offer you can’t refuse for Italian classics and authentic vibe. (355 Convention Center Drive. Tel: 702-369-2305. pieroscuisine.com).

PIZZA
Pizza Rock. For founder and 13-time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani, his dough is the canvas for award-winning pies including the Margherita, World Cup Winner (Naples); La Regina, Gold Cup Winner at the International Pizza Championships in Parma, Italy; and Cal Italia, Gold Medal Winner, Food Network Champions Challenge. (201 North 3rd Street at Downtown Grand. Tel.: 702-385-0838. pizzarocklasvegas.com).

Evel Pie. I always meet fun locals sitting at the bar of this kick ass pizza joint on East Fremont. Park your butt under the bar’s “Live Hard Ride Fast Eat Pizza” sign or take a table for cold beer and hot pizza with attitude including the new flaming (literally) Reaper Pie, a five-alarm fire of habanero chile sauce, chili pepper infused mozzarella, sriracha-marinated chorizo sausage, and sliced Habanero peppers. Surrounded by Evel Knievel memorabilia, it’s a gas. (508 Fremont St. Tel.: 702-840-6460. evelpie.com).

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1 comment

Damon Regan August 16, 2023 - 1:49 pm

You might want to swing into Spaghetty Western in Southern Highlands .
It is quite the place, packed nightly, fair prices and amazing service, It’s
kind of a hidden gem except in Southern Highlands as it’s 27 stool bar is
sold out 24 hours in advance. Just thought I would let you know. Great read by the way.

Comments are closed.

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