Las Vegas is a melting pot of cuisines, offering an opportunity to try unfamiliar and unexpected new flavors. And while culinary exploration can be intriguing, sometimes you just want a meal, which reminds you of home. So look no further than Grotto at Golden Nugget, where, even if you’re not Italian, you can imagine your Sicilian nonna churning out Italian classics.

Tucked off the side of the casino floor, Grotto is a reliable destination for home-away-from-home Italian standards—with some surprises in between. Begin with hearty stuffed mushrooms; with a quintet of cheeses and crusted with garlic crumbs, the fungi offer the perfect start to your meal. Follow with arancini al pomodoro—crispy, cheese-laden fried risotto balls served atop a sweet marinara gravy with fresh basil leaves. If you’ve never had this Italian dish, Grotto serves a noteworthy rendition worth trying.

After your primi course, Grotto offers soups and salads to segue into the main portion of the meal. The roasted beet and arugula salad offers earthiness from the root vegetable contrasted with the creaminess of goat cheese and the sharp sweetness of the balsamic vinaigrette glaze. And the Grotto salad is a faithful take on a chopped salad, adding meat and cheese in a spot-on Italian dressing. Chicken Milanese delivers the crispy chicken breast with mixed greens and balsamic. A little richer, the lobster bisque delivers bites of crustacean with cream and sherry, while the tomato basil is a simple, straightforward bowl of comfort.

And the Italian restaurant truly excels in its heartier courses. The chicken Marsala delivers lightly breaded cutlets wading in a Marsala sauce with a subdued sweetness, balanced by a rich accompanying fettuccine Alfredo almost worth ordering as an entrée itself. Elsewhere from the land, the veal kickerillo is a unique offering with Parmesan-crusted veal scaloppine awash in lemons and mushrooms with hints of citrus highlighting the dish. From the sea, the mahi siciliano is a surprising treat. Crusted with fried capellini pasta for a contrast in texture, the subtle fish is balanced with a sharp garlic shrimp sauce. And if you need pasta, you’ll find most every one your heart desires.

Save room for an airy strawberry cassatta. Also known as Italian wedding cake, the airy sponge cake is highlighted by the sweet strawberries. Just as traditional is the tiramisu, exuding strong coffee aroma.

A visit to Grotto can provide an unexpected escape if you request to be seated in the “grotto” area at Grotto. Across the aisle from the main restaurant, this secluded seating area offers direct views of the extravagant outdoor aquarium known as The Tank, the focal point of the Golden Nugget pool area. Share your meal with a shiver of sharks? Grandma wouldn’t want it any other way.

Golden Nugget, 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., pizza available at the bar until midnight Sun.-Thurs., 1 a.m. Fri.-Sat. 702.386.8341