Fresco Italiano: Traveling to Tuscany
For a place so new, this feels so completely comfortable. The new Fresco Italiano in Westgate channels that open-air dining experience we so often associate with Tuscany—a peaceful table laden with delights.
The décor here actually pulls in several elements of Italian influence, including the stone patio, elegant dining room and even a train-car excursion, with the countryside flowing past. The “windows” can be seen from most parts of the dining area, lending an unusual aspect to the dining experience.
No matter where you are sitting, you’ll appreciate the menu, small enough to peruse easily, yet wide enough to give everyone in your party plenty of options. Without a doubt, you’ll want to start with a nice glass of wine to accompany soft Italian bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Fresco features only Italian wines on the wine list, including dessert wines. If you need a guiding hand, just ask—the charming staff, from waiter to general manager, is happy to help.
Move on to antipasti—the chef can put together meats, cheeses, marinated vegetables or fresh olives, whatever suits your taste. Ask for the lavosh—soft and crispy with light charring on the edge and warm with flakes—to accompany fresh, soft mozzarella, smoked Gouda, goat cheese rolled in pistachios, capicola or prosciutto.
And although the family–style menu created by chefs Michael McNeilly and Justin Hancock presents many classic flavors, you’ll find plenty of twists on those, too. The pasta portion of the menu is mix and match, where you can pair pastas such as penne, pappardelle or a soft, lovely Asiago-filled gnocchi with Alfredo, clam or arrabiata sauce. The arrabiata fully lives up to its angry name, a spicy marinara-style sauce spotlighting chunky tomato, garlic and chilies. Get that with the short rib tortellini gigante and you’ll be in heaven—the moist, stuffed tortellini measures maybe three or four inches.
Polenta-encrusted eggplant Parmesan plays with the traditional dish, layering thinly sliced melanzana with mozzarella peppers and polenta in a massive wedge that is then flash-fried and served on a plate of marinara. It works very well; the eggplant is tender without being even slightly mushy. And it’s too huge to even attempt on your own; be gracious and share.
Like a meal at home, take your time and indulge. The perfect ending may be the unusual panna cotta—a layered dessert presented in a large glass. Dig through the whipped cream and raspberries and you’ll hit a crème brûlée-style sugar crust; a bit further down is the light, creamy pistachio base. Now, drain the last drops of your wine and finish off your latte—you’ve arrived at your destination.
Westgate Las Vegas, 5-10 p.m. daily. 702.732.5755