By Vegas Food Nerd
As far as restaurant legends go, Rao’s is probably one of the biggest. An Italian family dining establishment in New York City turned into the restaurant only a few are blessed to experience. Only those invited by others with table real estate at this place are allowed to enter and enjoy the food. It’s not just a ‘hard to get reservation’—you can’t even make a reservation until now. Rao’s have opened two outposts: one in Los Angeles, and one right here in Las Vegas that are now available to those that aren’t Rao’s insiders.
Located in Caesars Palace, the Vegas Rao’s looks a lot like the original location. You can dine semi al fresco at a patio in front of the restaurant, but I recommend you request a table on the interior. The inside décor transports you back to the original restaurant, which opened in 1896 with traditional family recipes from the Pellegrino family. The recipes, which continue to be handed down from generation to generation, are pure Southern Italian comfort food. Diners can be part of the family at home now, as well. Rao’s specialty foods will deliver jars of sauce, roasted peppers, and can buy a cookbook to get the family recipes to prepare some of their more popular dishes in your own home.
I’d heard about Rao’s and had always wanted to try the place. Being part Italian with some treasured family recipes of my own, I was very excited to walk past the red overhang into this treasured place. If you have heard the tales of Rao’s like I had, then you’d know that the first dish our table had to try was their famous Meatballs: two big, baseball-sized balls of beef, veal, and pork, which arrived bathed in Marinara Sauce. They lived up to the hype and our table enjoyed them very much. Next, they have something called a Fried Mozzarella Sandwich, which was a crispy, oozing, moan-worthy creation. (Don’t think calories, people!) Then, another cheese, which I can never pass up, called Burrata. The cheese sits in the middle of the plate surrounded by heirloom tomatoes and basil, all of which is drizzled with garlic oil and aged balsamic vinegar—yet another hit with all of us sharing each dish. We next ordered a trio of their pasta dishes: Vodka Penne with Prosciutto, Angel Hair Pasta with Marinara, and their Linguini with Clams. All three were spot on, and we enjoyed them until we clutched our stuffed stomachs and begged for mercy.
Rao’s—famous for being one our nation’s oldest family restaurants—did not disappoint. The only downside really were the high prices, but you come to expect that from any restaurant located in the heart of mega-resort, Caesars. But to experience it—yeah, it was worth it, and boy, was I full. My sincerest thanks go out to the Pellegrino family.
DIERKS BENTLEY’S WHISKEY ROW
Hitting our city with some cowboy flair is this gastropub that bears the name of a big country star. Country music and its undeniable grasp on the music buying public is now making its mark on the Strip when MGM opens the park next year. With items like Dierks Fried Chicken with Bacon Smashed Potatoes, and over 40 different options for a Boiler Maker (a shot of whiskey dropped in a beer). It is sure to be a drinking and dining destination that will please our fair tourists. Live musical acts and DJ’s will also be a part of the restaurant’s atmosphere, so you can boot scoot and boogie during your visit.
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