For years I’ve had a problem with an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas—Ferraro’s.
Despite sitting down with best intentions to explore a rich variety of main courses, I always wind up ordering the Osso Buco. That oh-so-tender shank of veal dressed in a delectable red wine sauce! Gene Kelly exclaimed it for the ages: “Gotta Dance! Gotta Sing!” Just can’t help it, baby.
But now that Gino Ferraro has moved to new Strip-side digs on Paradise Road, I’ve resolved to turn the page. If, after twenty-five years out on West Flamingo, owner Gino, wife Rosalba and chef son Mimmo can strike out for fresh territory, why can’t I?
The new Ferraro's has a warm, Tuscan feel.
Here’s the strategy: I nip in for lunch, see. Something light—maybe the Tritata chopped salad and a Pizza Funghi Misti. Thus I avoid the dinner menu, which is sure to have such too-tempting primos as Gnocchi Gorgonzola or Bucatini Amatriciana, not to mention inevitable secondos like Salmone Grigliato and…well, Osso Buco.
As always, here’s Gino smiling at the door, hearty hand-shake and an arm-full of menus. Rosalba waves from the bar, where she sits poring over the ledgers. Mimmo is doubtless busy in the kitchen, from which he will later emerge to chat with his customers. As always. Eating at Ferraro’s is a bit like being invited to dinner with the family of a favorite Italian uncle.
Mimmo and Gino Ferraro.
Uh-oh. There is it lurking at the bottom of the lunch menu—Osso Buco.
“Gino, what’s with this lunch menu? Who wants to eat Osso Buco in the middle of the day?”
“You’d be surprised, my friend. And besides, if it’s not there, what do I tell my guests?
”This is Ferraro’s and they expect Osso Buco. They also demand Pollo Vesuvio and Costoletto d’Agnello. You might also favor these dishes if you could bring yourself to order them. How about something a little different for starters, maybe a nice Trippa Satriano? This is tripe in a red sauce just the way they do it back in Calabria. Delicioso!”
Glancing about this lovely and hopeful new restaurant with its warm Tuscan glow, I must confess to a twinge of shame. Where is MY fresh start? It’s time to hazard beyond the Osso Buco.
Osso Buco, the house specialty, with a side of farro.
“Gino, I deliver myself into your hands. Feed me what you will. La carne e debole!” (“The flesh is weak!” The various uses of this Italian phrase I leave to your imagination.)
Gino comes out swinging with a left-right combination, splitting me a couple of primos (first courses): good old fashioned Spaghettini Carbonara with speck, pancetta, eggs and cheese followed up by a knockout Risotto Aragosta e Tartufo (with lobster and truffles).
Appetizers include Arancini al Tartufo
(fried rice balls with truffles).
After inhaling the latter, I now I have two problems with Ferraros: Osso Buco and Risotto Aragosta e Tartufo.
Mimmo in apron ventures out from the kitchen to see how I’m doing with the risotto. He knows very well how I’m doing. I think he likes to gloat. The conversation between forkfuls turns to the qualities of a good eggplant (southern Italians prefer the strongly flavored ones grown in Calabria; northerners like the subtler taste of Tuscan melanzane).
“We get good eggplant here at the open markets. Asparagus, lots of fresh vegetables, seafood. There are so many great chefs in Las Vegas these days. They demand top quality. So it pays to truck in it every day from California.”
“Can you find good rabbit?” I happened to notice Coniglio Brasato on the menu (braised rabbit with polenta and mushrooms).
Mimmo answers vaguely and returns to the kitchen. He’s probably got a rabbit farmer stashed nearby and doesn’t want anybody else to find him. Why are these chefs so secretive? After all, how many rabbits can I eat?
(double cut lamb chops).
When Gino bring out the secondo (meat course) I start to wonder if Mimmo had come out just to size me up.
Again I’m split, this time a plate of (believe it!) Coniglio Brasato with a vegetable side of Melanzane Parmigiana. And then a portion of braised veal in red wine sauce, sliced from the bone. Specialty of the house without the osso (the shank bone itself) nor the buco (the marrowy hole in the osso).
Gino loves his little joke.
“Congratulations on dining at Ferraro’s without touching the Osso Buco!”
Like everything else in Las Vegas, the restaurant business reflects what Dickens called “the best of times and the worst of times.” Coming over from the cozy confines of West Flamingo to this bigger, snazzier room on Paradise Road represents a gamble, especially in the tight economy of 2010.
Fettucini with lobster,
mushrooms, thyme and truffles.
But the Ferraros think it is high time to compete for both the local and tourist dollar with traditional north Italian cuisine prepared the painstaking, old fashioned way.
Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar is no chain operated spaghetti factory nor is it a high profile casino restaurant spun off from a New York or California home base. Gino Ferraro has only one restaurant. And rest assured that he and Rosalba and Mimmo will be there waiting for you.
Adam, the sommelier, with
a few of his 10,000 friends.
Ferraro’s is open for lunch, dinner and late-night in an expanded setting which includes two chef’s dining tables, a wine cellar with 10,000 bottles of Italians and Californias, banquet space for 10-250, plus audio/visual capabilities for meetings and receptions.
The wine bar and patio seating will be a hit with the happy hour and after-show/post-game crowd. Antipastini and Panini are available at all times along with small pizzas and selected entrées. Live music. Buon appetito! Have fun!
Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar is at 4480 Paradise Road, across from the Hard Rock Hotel/Casino and close by the Thomas & Mack Center at UNLV.
Reservations can be made at 702/364-5300.
For more details, specials, and full menus, check out their web site at www.ferraroslasvegas.com
— Feature by Jerry Nemanic Jetsetters Magazine Food & Wine Editor; photos courtesy of Ferraro's.