Phil’s Italian Steak House marries two beloved dining traditions
Treasure Island has undergone substantial changes since Phil Ruffin’s 2009 acquisition of the property. The once tropically themed resort has shifted away from its swashbuckler motif while becoming generally more accessible to patrons, so instead of the pirate ship lurking in the lagoon, partygoers from Señor Frog’s instead provide watch for invading hordes. But meanwhile, under the watchful eye of property executive chef Craig Taylor, TI’s restaurants continue to deliver fine dining.
One of the newer venues—Phil’s Italian Steak House—is a hybrid of sorts, combining aspects of the property’s previous Italian and steakhouse offerings. And with Ruffin’s name on the door, you can be certain that you’ll be served quality fare.
Your meal begins with the delivery of piping hot, loaded baked potato bread sticks. This innovative creation bakes a mixture of cheddar cheese, chives, potato and bacon—everything you could want to top a spud—into loaves served with sour cream and chive butter. The result is elevated above the typical bread offering, practically hearty enough to be a meal in itself. And that’s just for starters.
Good steakhouses excel in areas beyond just magnificent meat, so sample some of the more aquatic options at Phil’s. Why not begin with an order of prosciutto-wrapped day boat scallops in a playful take on surf-and-turf? Or perhaps begin with Tuscan-style oysters finished with bacon and Parmesan cheese—the combination endows the shellfish with an enticing smokiness.
Phil’s endive salad is celebrated on the menu as “Our House Specialty!” and rightfully so, as this is a monumentally memorable salad. And it should be, considering it, like the restaurant, is named after Ruffin himself. Slab bacon, Maytag blue cheese, honeyed walnuts and a mild sherry-shallot dressing combine with curly endive for what is essentially a frisée salad without the egg. And on a salad this good, you’ll never even miss it.
Given this is an Italian steakhouse you’ll find a variety of pastas on the menu. Chef’s house-made ravioli changes on a weekly basis based upon seasonal ingredient availability; during a recent visit, it was sweet potato and asparagus in sage butter. The ravioli are sufficiently light, providing a petite pocket for the vegetarian stuffing, while the sage butter mellows out the otherwise sweet contents. The menu staple smoked duck bucatini’s lentils offer a contrast of texture; the slightly smoked waterfowl plays well with the rest of the dish.
But this is a steakhouse, so the meat offerings are not to be overlooked. Turn to something a little more unique in the venison tenderloin. The dish pairs the two less-common products of deer and foie gras into a single, approachable offering. Or sample a prime New York strip with some smoky creamed spinach casserole—a rich take on the steakhouse staple.
While you’re dining, have a New Fashioned made with house-infused cinnamon and vanilla Jim Beam and Disaronno—the almond liqueur cuts the infusion’s inherent sweetness. Or select from Phil’s impressive yet succinct beer list. With selections like a chestnut San Felice or the coffee-like Chicca, you’re bound to find an Italian beer for anything you order.
Treasure Island, 5-10 p.m. daily. 702.894.7223