A Look Inside the East Village Steakhouse With No Chairs
Chef Michael LaPlaca and his team have transformed the place once known as Onda into one of the best restaurants in Vegas, Italian or otherwise. Whether it’s the ingredients flown in fresh from Italy or the creativity on display in their dishes (try the chicken Parmesan, built around a breast stuffed with dark meat sausage), Portofino is setting a high standard for others to follow. The seasonal updates tend to be on the fun and on the experimental side... and just one reason to return over and over again.
Here's a reason to visit Downtown and skip Fremont St altogether. Turn down 4th St near the Arts District and keep your eyes peeled for Chicago Joe's, an old brick home that was transformed into a cozy Italian joint four decades ago. It's been drawing loyal regulars, including members of the mob, ever since. And if mobsters know about anything (aside from, uh, the obvious), it's choosing Italian restaurants. The Christmas lights stay up year-round, giving you a clear but colorful look at the baked rigatoni and other traditional favorites on the menu.
Off the Strip
Family owned and operated since 1985, Ferraro’s has found a perfect balance of old-school favorites and non-traditional dishes, made with all-natural meat and carefully selected seafood. The spicy tripe is an experience in itself, as is the coniglio brasato (braised rabbit). The restaurant also takes its wine seriously, offering one of the best selections in Vegas, as well as pairing dinners and other tasting events that are among the most informative you’ll ever come across. This spot is also very friendly -- perfect for casual wine drinkers who want to learn the difference between a "Chianti" and "Chianti Classico." And if you need a late night bite, the bar serves food until 2am.
This elegant fine-dining spot focuses on seafood and culinary creations that often come with a strong Mediterranean influence. After a recent name change and some menu revisions, the restaurant is better than ever, with a gorgeous outdoor patio that surrounds a koi pond. The fresh fish and shellfish, flown in daily from Italian waters, is presented table-side for your selection. And don't worry if you see something move, those are just the langoustines -- small European lobsters that will help make your dinner one to remember.
Traditional cuisine is given a modern twist at Scarpetta, thanks to New York chef Scott Conant, who studied with chefs in Italy to perfect his craft. Scarpetta is able to stand out among the Cosmo’s impressive lineup of restaurants with the kind of stuff you won’t find just anywhere, like a Sicilian-spiced, orange-flavored duck breast. Head next door to sister wine bar D.O.C.G. if you prefer a more casual atmosphere with small bites over drinks.
The waiting list to get a table at the original Rao’s in New York is so notoriously long, someone got the idea to open another version in Las Vegas that’s basically the same thing, just a little bigger -- which means everyone gets a fair chance to try out their famous signature meatballs. The same family is deeply involved in both restaurants, ensuring that the experience is as identical as possible.
Off the Strip
An example of vintage Las Vegas for more than 30 years, Piero’s continues to be a regular spot for authentic Italian dishes, romantic dinners, and power lunch meetings near the Convention Center. A long list of celebrities, including at least two US presidents, have stopped by over the years. La Zuppa di Pesce is the the house specialty: a soup loaded with lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, scallops, and calamari.
Named after founders Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, B&B Ristorante has some high expectations to live up to, as the signature Italian restaurant in an Italian-themed hotel and casino. Fortunately, it meets and often exceeds them, providing a perfect blend of authenticity and creativity, with specialities like beef cheek ravioli with black truffles and crushed duck liver. They’re even more delicious with a bottle from the comprehensive wine list, which represents every region in Italy, many available by the "quartino," or quarter-liter.
Green Valley Ranch
Open for less than a year, Bottiglia is becoming a big hit with the Henderson crowd, thanks to a nicely diverse menu representing all regions of Italy; a relaxing outdoor patio; and a bright, open dining room with big windows designed to circulate a perfect breeze. All of this is really shown to its best advantage during the recently introduced Sunday brunch, where the gnocchi arrabbiata and short rib cavatelli are both nearly as addictive as the house-made sangria.
Off the Strip
Panevino is probably the healthiest option for Italian dining in Las Vegas, as special care is put into the ingredients, cooking methods, and nutritional content of each dish. Some of these aren't even prepared with oil -- which is practically unheard of in an Italian joint. But the taste never suffers, and if meatballs and sausage aren't your thing, there's also a stellar vegan menu; you won't believe the spinach, walnut, and "ricotta" ravioli is actually cheeseless. Enjoy it all next to floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Strip, as well as the airport across the street.
Grand Canal Shoppes
The name of this spot is Italian for "fish market," and while there is definitely an emphasis on seafood, this restaurant features an array of dishes, displayed on stations scattered throughout the dining room. These provide a wide range of options, from imported cheese, salads, and flatbreads to fresh-made pastas, steaks, and of course, desserts. Don't get the wrong idea -- this isn't a Las Vegas buffet. Everything will be brought to your table, in the wide-open dining room that spills out onto St. Mark's Square. Plus, you can order a selection of steaks, fish, and vegetables, all cooked in a Spanish-style Josper Oven, a kind of covered oven and grill all rolled up into one, giving dishes like the delicious lamb chops a unique smoky taste.
Forum Shops at Caesars
Family-style dishes are the specialty, with each one feeding between four and six, including a 45oz porterhouse and a 9in-high eggplant Parmigiana. If you have room for dessert, the Titanic Sundae is no joke, made with a pound of ice cream, a brownie, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. If you can't take the pressure of so many calories, ask for the off-menu Tugboat sundae instead.
Originally just 12 seats when it opened back in 1991, this longtime locals' favorite has since expanded the dining room as well as the menu, with more than 70 dishes in play. Favorites include wild boar over pappardelle pasta and a lineup of 11 pizzas (four of which are "white," or without tomato sauce). The cocktail program gets plenty of attention, offering both carefully constructed versions of the classics and some impressive original creations.
Grand Canal Shoppes
New Jersey? Fuhgeddaboudit. Buddy Valastro chose Las Vegas to be the home of his very first restaurant, and it’s lived up to the hype, with a diverse menu that includes a hearty bone-in Milanese veal chop and "Sunday Gravy" -- a combination of meatballs, sausage, lamb, and pork in a dish of rigatoni. Of course, a dessert from the "Cake Boss" is required. If you don’t have room for a zeppole, cannoli, or lobster tail after dinner, pick one up to-go from Carlo’s Bakery across the hall.
Lavo is more than a party restaurant or summer brunch destination. It also has a delightfully deep selection of heavy Italian food. Regardless of what you order for the main course, begin the night with the 1lb meatball (made with Imperial Wagyu beef, Italian sausage, and veal) and end the night with the fried Oreo Zeppole served with a malted shake. And we know we don't have to tell you this, but make sure to drink plenty of wine along the way.
As everyone knows, Frank Sinatra ran this town for years. What you might not know is that if you head to Wynn Encore, you can experience a menu based on Old Blue Eyes' favorite dishes, include the spaghetti and clams... although we recommend the prime, bone-in Angus ribeye as a nice choice to share. The restaurant is decorated with portraits of Sinatra, as well as his Academy and Grammy awards.
1. Portofino3400 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
2. Chicago Joe's820 S 4th St, Las Vegas
3. Ferraro's Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar4480 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas
4. Scarpetta3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
5. Rao's Las Vegas3570 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
6. Piero's Italian Cuisine355 Convention Center Dr, Las Vegas
7. B & B Ristorante3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
8. Panevino Italian Grille246 Via Antonio Ave, Las Vegas
9. Carmine'sThe Forum Shops at Caesars, , Las Vegas
10. Nora's Italian Cuisine6020 W Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas
11. Buddy V's RistoranteShoppes at Palazzo, Las Vegas
12. LAVO3325 Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
13. Sinatra3131 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
14. Bottiglia Cucina Enoteca2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy, Henderson
15. Costa di Mare3131 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas
16. Mercato della Pescheria, Las Vegas
An alum of other Strip spots like Bouchon and Alex, Chef Michael LaPlaca brings his coastal Italian cuisine to the Mirage Resort & Casino with romantic Portofino, where he uses ingredients imported from Italy to create modern takes on traditional dishes, such as crab cake arancini and meatballs topped with cheese-stuffed squash blossoms. The Tuscan-influenced restaurant hand-crafts its pasta, too, which you can try in plates like pork-cheek ravioli and ripatelli with wild-boar bolognese. LaPlaca even keeps his gluten-free customers in mind with a separate menu of pasta made from arborio rice flour.
For over forty years this unassuming Italian spot has been drawing crowds of regulars (and mob members). The simple and classic menu has everything you could need, and nothing you don't.
This spot across the street from the Hard Rock has been offering homemade Italian food as well as an extensive wine program for more than two decades. The wine list, which was recognized byWine Spectator, is more than 60 pages long and includes choices from around the world, but your best bet is to order 3 or 5oz tasting glasses and explore the delicious beauty of Italy region by region.
Located inside the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, this modern italian spot is serving dishes courtesy of celebrity chef Scott Conant. The unique menu is clearly Italian, with more traditional dishes like the signature spaghetti, but also brings more modern dishes like a duck & foie gras ravioli and a spiced orange duck breast.
This Vegas branch of the famously difficult-to-get-into NYC-based Italian restaurant is serving the same family recipes in a much larger space that features a replica of the 12-table original in Harlem. The classic dishes are all throwbacks to the family's Southern Italian roots, featuring pastas, risottos, and steak bistecca with desserts like classic tiramisu and cheesecake to finish.
It opened more than 30 years ago and has been serving awesome Italian fare ever since. Pia Zadora performs in the lounge on weekends
In terms of italian chefs, Mario Batali is one of THE guys. This outpost of his and Joe Bastianich's New York City restaurant is located inside the Venetian hotel and lives up to it's hype with a diverse menu and an Italian wine list.
With sweeping panoramic views of the Strip, this Italian restaurant embodies the sultry, sophisticated ambience that is quintessentially Vegas (dim lighting, plush circular booths in bright red leather, polished glassware glinting on crisp linen-covered tabletops). Bold Tuscan flavors reign, whether you opt for classic plates like the Linguini Seafood (a mélange of shrimp, scallops, clams, and mussels, gloriously drenched in a white wine-garlic sauce) or order from the 100% plant-based menu, where favorite dishes like the “Ricotta” and Spinach Ravioli consistently delight vegan appetites.
Based in NYC, this family-style Italian chain replicates its famously generous portions of antipastos and saucey pasta dishes in a massive Vegas outpost. Claiming the title of the largest non-nightclub restaurant on the Strip, Carmine's serves portions scaled to size, like wide platters of fried calamari, deep bowls of meatball spaghetti, and sinfully rich desserts.
Even though it only had twelve seats when it opened, Nora's quickly became a popular local spot. Since then, they've expanded the dining space and kept up their impressive cocktail program.
This Italian eatery serves up all the classic boot foods (chicken Parm, garlic bread, etc) but also creative twists, like their carbonara mac & cheese with fontina, peas, and pancetta. Ever had Italian brunch? The correct answer is yes, because that means chowing down on bites like their salumi board, maple-glazed ham, and spicy Italian sausage all cooked up into delish breakfast dishes.
Lavo is a bi-level restaurant & casino/nightclub that balances Mediterranean dining against Vegas-style performance art and grandeur — see: the $5000 copper tub in the dining room.. The restaurant's floor boasts high ceilings, aged and carved wood ceiling and low-hanging chandeliers for a top-notch night of romance and opulence. Ingredients come straight from Italy every week and are used to create gourmet pastas, pizzas and other classic Italian dishes.
Sinatra fans, this one's for you. This upscale eatery has a classic Italian menu worthy of Ol' Blue eyes himself and is decorated with memorabilia -- including Sinatra's Academy Award.
Walking into this Green Valley Ranch spot is like walking into a rustic Italian garden party in which Martha Stewart and Marie Antoinette have equal decorating rights: all-white furnishings, pastel floral prints, contemporary chandeliers, and vibrant hanging lamps all dress up the interior. The whimsical aesthetic continues with the market-driven menu that features light pasta dishes and free-range meats, all of which are plated artfully with edible flowers and mico-greens. If the extensive wine list doesn’t entice you, the fruit-obsessed specialty cocktails, like blood orange mimosas, certainly will.
With a large selection of seafood flown in daily from Italy, you know Costa di Mare has to be good. If there's a place to try a piece of fish that you've never even heard of before, Costa Di Mare is it.
The name of this spot is Italian for "fish market," and while there is definitely an emphasis on seafood, this restaurant features an array of dishes, displayed on stations scattered throughout the dining room. These provide a wide range of options, from imported cheese, salads, and flatbreads to fresh-made pastas, steaks, and of course, desserts. Everything will be brought to your table, in the wide-open dining room that spills out onto St. Mark's Square. Plus, you can order a selection of steaks, fish, and vegetables, all cooked in a Spanish-style Josper Oven, a kind of covered oven and grill all rolled up into one, giving dishes like the delicious lamb chops a unique smoky taste.