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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Crazy for Italian

Crazy for Italian

Get your pasta fix at these great valley restaurants

Story by Bob Gourley 

Italian cuisine has consistently been called the most popular ethnic food in America. The valley certainly has its share of great Italian restaurants. Here are four that offer a variety of delicious offerings and comfortable ambiance.

Joe Vicari's Andiamo Italian Steakhouse

Homemade Italian breads, award-winning sauces and handmade pasta are three good reasons to visit. An appealing eggplant tapenade arrives as a worthy topping for the bread. The handmade Grande Meatball is not only a conversation piece but delicious as well. A winning entrée is Pappardelle with Veal Ragu, a hearty veal stew with porcini mushrooms and Asiago cheese. Steaks, carved from the top eight percent of all U.S. beef, are served with a choice of three sauces. The centerpiece is the Andiamo Tomahawk, a gargantuan charred 32-ounce rib eye. Colorado lamb chops are marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon and herbs with tomato, capers and olives on the side. Fish is flown in daily from around the world. Noteworthy entrees include Shrimp Scampi Oreganato with shellfish sautéed in garlic herb butter sauce and braised Italian-style greens. An extensive wine list will take followers on a world-wide jaunt and cocktail specials add to the ambiance.

Nora's Italian Cuisine

Gino and Nora started in 1991 with a small place that seated only 12. They have greatly expanded their seating, and now clientele from all over the world visit. And why not? Diners will find a large menu of traditional Italian dishes that have been given a new twist. Featured house creations include Pork Tenderloin alla Siciliana. Breaded and roasted pork comes with baby red potatoes, breaded and roasted tomatoes and arugula with lemon vinaigrette. Labor-intensive Lasagna is done with delicate layering of béchamel, ricotta and meat sauce. Cannelloni features manicotti-styled pasta filled with cheese and spinach. Save room for Warm Chocolate Cake, which must be pre-ordered but shouldn't be missed. Soft-centered Valrochna chocolate is covered with vanilla sauce and pistachios.

Bootlegger Bistro

Executive Chef Maria Perry is one of the most-honored food crafters in the city. Not only has she been cooking at the restaurant since 1949, but also she is 96 years old and continues to impress. Pappardelle Bolognese is one reason. Imported egg noodles are bathed in traditional Bolognese meat sauce and shaved parmigiana. Seafood Diavolo includes clams, calamari, shrimp and mussels delivered cioppino style over linguine in mild, medium or hot spicy tomato broth. Osso Bucco is done right. Slowly-braised petite veal shanks are accompanied by saffron risotto, asparagus, tomatoes and zucchini. Healthy and gluten-friendly favorites are now offered. Since they are open 24 hours a day, many food industry professionals and entertainers frequent the place. There is live entertainment every night and jam sessions are common.

The Pasta Shop Ristorante and Art Gallery

Owner and Executive Chef David Alenik has some impressive credentials. He was Steve Wynn's executive chef and prepared food for Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor. The restaurant is celebrating 25 years in business. Alenik's philosophy, "Fresh pasta and we love to do creative seafood dishes." That includes Saffron Shrimp Sauté made with tiger shrimp and a unique twist, black squid pasta covered with saffron crème sauce. A popular dish named after the chef is Chicken Davida. Sautéed chicken breast is topped with fried eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and polenta served with fresh vegetables. The colorful vibe in the restaurant is supplied by David's wife Ann who is an expert in crafting contemporary metalwork. Her work has been featured on HGTV.


Andiamo Steakhouse

The D Hotel and Casino

301 Fremont St., Las Vegas




The Bootlegger Bistro

7700 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas




Nora's Italian Cuisine

6020 W. Flamingo Rd., Suite 10, Las Vegas




The Pasta Shop Ristorante and Art Gallery

2525 W. Horizon Ridge, Henderson



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