When chef John McKibben first opened Grape Street Cafe in 1997, his small restaurant took a back seat to a large front-of-the-house retail area where customers could purchase house-made sauces, salads, and high-quality wines. Though the concept quickly transitioned to focus on the fresh, house-made dishes flying out of his kitchen, McKibben has held on to his retail license and continues to encourage his diners to finish their meal by picking up a bottle of wine to go or commissioning a self-portrait painted with balsamic vinegar.
With the exception of a handful of rotating nightly specials, the menu has stayed largely the same, and Chef McKibben credits the cuisine as the eatery's 14-year secret to success. Dinner finds the shop's signature hot sandwiches, creamy pastas, and pizzas sharing top billing alongside nationally inspired entrees such as a baked Alaskan halibut topped with lemon beurre-blanc and Colorado lamb in a sweet-and-sour mint glaze. However, the diverse menu is designed to complement the restaurant?s real draw: its extensive wine selection. Up to 90 vinos are available by the glass each day, with selections that hail from as near as Napa and as far away as Mosel, Bordeaux, Rioja, and Mos Eisley.
Pasta and horsepower. Though it may not be a run-of-the-mill pairing, at Dal Toro Ristorante the two are not incongruous. After all, if anything can get the blood pumping like the timeless rides of Dal Toro Exotic Cars, with which the traditional Italian restaurant shares an address (the two are adjacent to each other in the Palazzo Hotel and Casino), it's chef Fiorenzo Trunzo's Spaghetti fra Diavola. Sautéed whole Maine lobster and baby shrimp bathed in a brandy tomato sauce, sumptuous as a Rolls-Royce. Or perhaps it's the filletto roquefort, another star of the dinner menu, which pairs a prime filet mignon with a rich roquefort cheese sauce. Or the sautéed Mediterranean sea bass, oven-finished and drizzled with white wine-lemon sauce.
At lunchtime the menu takes a lighter turn, but day or night the setting for chef Trunzo's culinary creations remains the same. Marbled entrances and mosaic fountains lead the way to a dining room of cherry-red chandeliers and plush, red-and-gold-striped booths. Outside, wicker chairs line a patio located a mere meatball's-throw away from buzzing Las Vegas Boulevard. Once diners have twirled their last forkful, they enjoy complimentary admission to the car showroom, where they can ask the custom 1939 Studebaker about life before Interstates.
Layer upon layer of cheese and a touch of tomato sauce blanket each thick yet airy crust baked to crispy perfection inside a rectangular tin. This Detroit-style pizza may not be as widely lauded as its Chicago and New York counterparts, but the square pies pack just as much flavorful crunch. Northside Nathan’s team loads crusts with classic Italian toppings such as sausage, capicollo, meatballs, mushrooms, anchovies, salami, and roma tomatoes. Equipped with the recipes of his parents, who opened their own pizza parlor in Detroit during the 1960s, Todd Malinowski brought the square-pan pizza west and opened Northside Nathan’s Detroit Pizza in the late 1990s. The eatery has since expanded to a second location, where Todd continues to toss the same dough that has earned him a spot on the Best of Las Vegas list for best pizza twice. The Malinowski family also piles fresh and hearty ingredients into a septet of Detroit-themed sandwiches, such as the model T and the cadillac.
Carefully wrapped cuts of meat and sausages and encased salami fly over the deli counter at Rocco's New York Italian Deli as staffers craft the homemade Italian entrees that compose this traditional deli’s menu. Owner Adam Kahn draws upon his family’s recipes to craft a selection of meat, cheeses, and desserts available by the pound and savory dishes that burst with classic Italian ingredients like a tomato vine when rent is due. Almost every morsel is made from scratch, from the sweet crust of Grandma’s cheesecake to the homemade bread made fresh every morning to ensconce the deli meats in a selection of hot and cold sandwiches. The deli also sources some specialty items straight from Italy to showcase the country's flavorful pepperoncini, piquant Reggiano parmigiana, and tart limonata, lending customers a taste of authentic Italian treats without needing to install a gelato-cast statue of David.
New York transplant Gerry and his son Shaun, owners of East Side Pizza at Boca Park, understand just how high their home state sets the bar for great family pizzerias. So several times a week, they send out orders for shipments of fresh pizza dough from their supplier back on the East Coast. It's just one of the little things that ends up having a big impact on the taste and texture of their hand-tossed, New York–style, thin-crust pizzas. The fresh dough is covered with housemade marinara sauce and topped with both traditional and surprising ingredients, creating specialty pies such as the barbecue chicken, chicken marsala, and eggplant rollatini, each sold whole or by the slice.
Their full menu features calzones, pastas and hot sandwiches, including their signature meatball sub topped with mozzarella. Choose to dine in, and you'll find yourself in a comfortable dining room surrounded by flat-screen TVs and sports memorabilia.
Roma Deli & Restaurant distills the flavors of Italy into its menu and its stores' shelves, which overflow with Old World--style pastas, sauces, and wines. As owner Giuseppe Consarino told the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2010, "a lot of people claim [to use] Grandma's recipes. We have our own grandma in the kitchen." He went on to describe the deli's passion for Italian culinary traditions, such as making sausages and mozzarella in-house and seeking out freshly baked loaves of bread. These ingredients lend rustic flavors to the assortment of hearty sandwiches, sauce-glazed pastas, and prosciutto-topped entrees on the menu.
Roma Deli & Restaurant's decor pays similar homage to Italian culture. A striped awning crowns the deli counter, and the walls sport Old World touches, such as vintage advertisements for Italian wines and a painted mural that commemorates the invention of Rome's first food blog.