Las Vegas' 10 Best Italian Restaurants: Beyond Pasta and Pizza

Photo courtesy of Vox Solid Communications LV
Photo courtesy of Rao's
Photo courtesy of Bill Milne
By Terrisa Meeks, Las Vegas Local Expert

Las Vegas has always had a fondness for Italian food, perhaps because the city’s mythologized history featured a lot of Italians. For years, almost every gourmet room carried a section of Italian dishes, and in recent times the city has seen an influx of new chefs bringing innovative flavors and styles to town.

Noted Chef Scott Conant started his Las Vegas forays on the Strip at Scarpetta, but recently branched out into the Las Vegas suburbs with Masso Osteria at the Red Rock Resort. The comfortable yet modern design reflects the menu, which does the classics well but also brings in fresh dishes and flavors you wouldn’t expect.

While the Strip is home to many of Las Vegas’ finest Italian restaurants, there are plenty of note-worthy restaurants in other parts of the city. If your idea of an authentic Italian restaurant looks more like a family-owned trattoria, don’t worry--Las Vegas has plenty of those.

With home-style cooking being a foundation of Italian food, it’s no surprise that restaurants strive for a grandmother-like quality to their dishes. The popular Rao’s at Caesars Palace is renowned for its homecooked style of food, and although the original NYC location is notoriously difficult to get a reservation at, getting a table at the Las Vegas outpost is much easier.

If you’re still not sure where to go looking for that spaghetti you’re craving, scroll on down for our list of Las Vegas’ 10 best Italian restaurants.

10. Masso Osteria
Photo courtesy of Masso Osteria & Station Casinos

Acclaimed chef and restaurateur Scott Conant recently opened a new restaurant in Summerlin, Masso Osteria. Located at the Red Rock Resort Casino, this new Italian eatery has an upscale but comfortable ambiance, with food to match. Pasta dishes include potato gnocchi with clams, guanciale and tomato or squid ink rigatoni with spicy king crab. Entrees include veal (three different preparations are offered), cedar roasted bass, grilled salmon or lamb shank with Sardinian cous cous, radicchio and anchovy lemon vinaigrette. A vegetarian and vegan menu is offered, and gluten-free options are available upon request. A Chef's Tasting Menu is served family-style for the table for $65 per person.

9. Chef Marc's Trattoria
Photo courtesy of Chef Marc's Trattoria

A short drive west of the Strip takes you into the area in Las Vegas known as The Lakes, and in an office park area you'll find one of the city's newer Italian restaurants, Chef Marc's Trattoria. This Tuscan-style restaurant serves traditional Italian food, but they're always working on new creations as well. The veteran chef at the wheel of this neighborhood gem has created a menu full of Italian delights. Start off your meal with escargot, charred octopus or a charcuterie board before moving on to pasta e fagioli or heirloom salad. Entrees include Short Rib Malfatti (a lasagna using beef short rib), cioppino, veal, chicken parmesan or chicken and shrimp fra diavolo. Daily specials include house-made pasta dishes, Italian wedding soup, and a New York steak.

8. Nora's Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Nora's Cuisine

Nora's has been a popular local Italian restaurant for many years because of its warm atmosphere and great food. Just a short drive west of the Las Vegas Strip, locally owned Nora's offers a escape from the bustling activity along the resort corridor. The food here wins fans from residents and visitors, with a menu that includes everything from calamari to pizza. Popular dishes here include the Crazy Alfredo, with fettuccini, shrimp, chicken, sausage, mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and jalapenos or the Alla Nora, a baked dish of spaghetti, eggplant and meat sauce with pesto and parmigiano cheese to finish. House specialties include osso bucco and rack of lamb.

7. Scarpetta
Photo courtesy of Scarpetta

Italian food is elevated at Scarpetta, with dishes diners will remember long after the dessert is done. An elegant and comfortable dining area is the perfect backdrop for this upscale interpretation of Italian cuisine. Spaghetti with tomato and basil is one of the restaurant's signature dishes, but other menu choices include the duck and foie gras ravioli, tagliatelle with lamb bolognese and truffle buratta, Fennel Dusted Black Cod, veal osso bucco or three choices of steak. A dessert and cheese menu offers a tempting array of sweets and fromaggi to end the evening, with tempting creations like the mascarpone cheesecake, Nutella Bomboloni and a tiramisu with traditional mascarpone cream, a Scarpetta cookie and coffee gelato. In addition to the main dinner selections, guests can also choose from gluten-free, vegetarian and tasting menus.

6. Plantone's Italian Market
Photo courtesy of Plantone's Italian

The owner of Plantone's Italian Market wanted to open a deli, a place people could go for something quick, but still of great quality. The result is Plantone's, well-known for its sandwiches, but boasting a menu full of comfort-style dishes like lasagna, ravioli and Chicken Marsala. Pizzas come in three sizes, and they're available as calzones as well. Specials include Tony's Fried Bolony sandwich and an Italian Hot Dog, two split hot dogs on Italian bread with peppers, onions, potatoes and mustard. Cold subs come with names like Goodfella Club (turkey, ham, bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo), and the emphasis here is on good, old-fashioned deli fare, plus a host of entrees. The atmosphere is fast-casual, and the food is priced to offer a great value.

5. Ferraro's
Photo courtesy of Vox Solid Communications LV

A Las Vegas favorite for almost 30 years, this family-owned restaurant is famous for its fine Italian cuisine created from time-honored family recipes. House-made sausages, family-recipe meatballs and legendary Osso Buco are prepared from all-natural meats. Safe Harbor Certified seafood and freshly made pastas and sauces provide the foundation of Ferraro's lunch, dinner and late-night menus. Many of its mouthwatering dishes can be made gluten free, and gluten-free pasta and pizza is available for an additional charge. Whole wheat pasta is available, too, and all of the pastas are house-made every day. For dessert, be sure to try the classic Tiramisu; crepes with Nutella, Mascarpone, hint of orange zest and gelato or the Cioccolatissimo, hazelnut chocolate cake, chocolate mousse, ice cream and yogurt.

4. Sinatra
Photo courtesy of Sinatra at Wynn and Encore Las Vegas

Ol' Blue Eyes is the inspiration for this classy Italian restaurant at Wynn Las Vegas, and the results would make the legendary performer happy. The inviting space features several pictures of Frank Sinatra, and the menu includes several of his personal favorites, like spaghetti and clams and ossobucco. Starters include the expected antipasto, as well as octopus, caprese and caviar. Pasta choices include the Lasagna Bolognese, or the gnocchi with leek crema, smoked speck ham, asparagus, peas and morel mushrooms. Fish, veal, chicken and beef dishes are all prepared with an Italian flair, including the Ossobuco "My Way," braised veal ossobucco, saffron risotto Milanese and gremolata.

3. Rao's
Photo courtesy of Rao's

Rao's first restaurant was in New York, and its outpost at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas also serves the authentic Italian food its customers adore. The interior design features a replica of the original 12-seat NYC restaurant, plus additional seating areas on a patio, at the bar and in private dining space. The atmosphere evokes a homey feeling, and the food is most often described as almost home-cooked. You'll find every kind of Italian dish on the menu here: antipasto, meatballs, linguini and clams (red or white sauce), all types of pasta dishes, steaks, shrimp scampi, Sunday Gravy (only on Sunday with limited availability) and a host of other dishes.

2. Buddy V's Ristorante
Photo courtesy of Bill Milne

Buddy "Cake Boss" Valastro may be best known for his baking, but Buddy V's Ristorante shows off his skills as a talented chef. Diners are treated to a taste of the Valastro family's beloved heirloom recipes, in a setting reminiscent of the Sunday dinner atmosphere at Buddy's grandmother's house. Offering new twists on Italian-American classics and family favorites, the flavorful menu features the family's takes on all the classics, like My Dad's Bucatini Carbonara, Nonna's Lasagna Al Forno and Lisa V's Linguine & Clams. Menu must-tries include Aunt Nina's Mozzarella en Carozza and the Valastro Sunday Gravy made with meatballs, sausage, lamb, pork and a bowl of rigatoni.

1. Esther's Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Esther's Kitchen

Esther's Kitchen is a modern, farm-to-table style Italian restaurant with a fresh take on food that's been a hit with diners since the restaurant opened in late 2017. Fans of seasonal, artisanal fare will find a lot to like at this popular downtown spot, which enjoys consistent acclaim because of its flavorful dishes. Describing their food as "seasonal Italian soul food," Esther's Kitchen delivers a menu full of house-made pastas--spaghetti, chitarra, rigatoni, bucatini, you name it--house-made bread, an unrivaled meat and cheese board and pizzas. While dinner is standard sit-down service, lunchtime is informal, with orders for salads, sandwiches, pastas and pizzas placed at the counter and delivered to the table. Esther's Kitchen is named after the woman who taught the chef to cook, and Esther's home-style touch is apparent in every part of the restaurant, from the food to the inviting atmosphere.