Scott Conant’s made himself quite a name in the food world—he’s opened critically acclaimed restaurants across the country and frequently serves as a Chopped judge (he won the celebrity version of the show, too). Conant, who currently lives in the American Southwest and operates several restaurants here, just opened his newest one, Masso Osteria, at Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.

Masso Osteria’s décor, with rich browns and muted reds, is drawn from the desert surroundings of the resort (masso means boulder in Italian). It’s comfortable and doesn’t preclude a bit of whimsy, seen especially near the bar area, where one wall sports a large colorful mural with the words peace, love and pasta. An open kitchen looks a bit like a Punch and Judy stage showcasing the chefs and a wood-fired oven, and allowing the fragrances of cooking to sharpen the appetite.

Whether you chose to go with cocktails or wine, you’ll be pleased with your choice. Take a slow sip of the lalna, a combination of flavors: Henry McKenna 10 year bourbon, amaro, crème de banana and Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira. It starts with the bourbon on your tongue and ends with a light banana finish. Pleasing, indeed. The beer list contains a number of local and regional brews, as well as a few Italian ones, of course.

Among many memorable dishes, the radicchio and endive salad is especially memorable. The incredibly simple salad, just greens, Parmesan and a sprinkling of pine nuts, is dressed with the most delicious pignoli vinaigrette.

Masso Osteria

Wood-roasted prawns View Gallery

The wood-fired oven plays prominently in many dishes, such as the margherita pizza, accented with a bright tomato sauce and topped with burrata. And like a sort of Italian quesadilla, in the Recco-style garlic bread two ultra-thin pieces of focaccia are layered with cheese inside, and Parmesan and crispy, thin shavings of garlic on top. It's also wood-fired—creating a lovely, buttery bite.

Pasta al pomodoro twirls long strands through Conant’s signature sauce—elevating that spaghetti and tomato sauce of your childhood. Tagliatelle comes with a Bolognese and fonduta, but vegetarians may opt for a version with black truffle—it’s rich and decadent. If you are a vegetarian, do let the staff know, as many dishes can be adjusted. Gluten-free options are also available; just ask. For a hearty entrée, tagliata di manzo presents thick, tender slices of beef served with a bit of greenery and tomatoes.

Other standout dishes include a smooth polenta “boscaiola” with just a bit of texture, plus mouthwatering mushrooms, truffle and bacon; wood-roasted prawns atop a bed of Israeli couscous; and an aah-mazing escarole della nonna, doing that lady proud.

Dessert means the salted chocolate budino, a creamy pudding with a gianduja crumble and whipped cream. It's a small bite of heaven. For a take on tiramisu, order the affogato—mascarpone mousse and vanilla gelato are drowned in a stream of espresso tableside. It’s a wonderful end to a nice Italian dinner.

Red Rock Resort, 5-10 p.m. Sun.-Thurs., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., lounge social hour 4-6 p.m. Sun.-Fri. 702.797.7097