Ferraro’s touches classic Italian dishes with new sensibility
By Brock Radke
Photos by Beverly Poppe
There are thousands of restaurants in Las Vegas. Yet only a select handful have been able to offer such a consistent experience that they are able to regularly draw visitors away from the Strip and into the locals’ world of neighborhood dining. Ferraro’s has been doing it since 1985.
Originally located on the west side of town, this classic Italian restaurant and wine bar relocated two years ago to a more Strip-convenient site, an easy few minutes east to Paradise Road. The still-new space is expansive and comfortable, with plenty of room for an improved wine collection that includes some rare bottles from Southern Italy, home of owner Gino Ferraro. His son, Mimmo, took over the kitchen duties almost 10 years ago, bringing some modern flair to a rustic menu of family favorites. When you dine at Ferraro’s, you’re getting more than a taste of Italy; this is a Vegas institution.
The specialty of the house is braised osso buco, an incredibly rich and tender lamb shank in red wine reduction served over delicate farro. Even with a spectacular Italian eatery inside every casino resort on the Strip, savvy diners still head to Ferraro’s when a craving for osso buco strikes. For a more exotic yet still deliciously authentic entrée, sample coniglio brasato, or braised rabbit, which offers similar luxurious, meaty texture with lighter flavor. Classics like veal piccata or Piemontese, chicken Parmigiana and Dover sole with capers and almonds round out the main dishes.
But wait, we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. We forgot the antipasti course, highlighted by an antipasto platter stocked with imported cold cuts, rich and savory cheeses and tangy marinated vegetables. Gamberoni, an appetizer of jumbo shrimp with speck (juniper-flavored ham), sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary and white wine, packs unbelievable flavor and sets the tone for the masterful meal to follow. An array of salads and pizzas is next, anchored by a classic Caesar, the chef’s namesake, insalata Mimmo, with heirloom tomatoes, avocado and fresh mozzarella, and the ever-popular pizza margherita, simple and perfect with only tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.
And please, let’s not skip the pasta course. A new favorite is pappardelle Mimmo, wide noodles decorated with butter, sage and truffle oil and topped with lobster, scallops and asparagus, a light yet satisfying bite. A menu standard is Ferraro’s gnocchi, fluffy potato dumplings in pesto, grilled chicken and cherry tomatoes. The easy-to-love, hard-to-make dish of risotto is handled with care in this kitchen, always flavorful and nicely al dente. For the adventurous, try the risotto mero, rice in black squid ink accompanied by sautéed calamari.
Whew … it’s a lot of food. But trust in the experience of this Vegas restaurant family, as they know how to lighten things up so you can enjoy every bit of such a meal, just as they know how to present tempting sweets afterwards. Tackle a trio of cannoli with chocolate and raspberry sauces, traditional affogato (vanilla gelato and amaretto drowned in warm espresso) or creamy cheesecake, if you wish. But know that the crowd favorite is tiramisu, the classic, custardy combo of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese. This dessert is worth the cab ride by itself.
4480 Paradise Road, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. Mon.-Fri., 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. 702.364.5300