Slice of Vegas
Pepperoni New York Slice – $3.95
Mamma’s Garlic Bread – $8.90 with Mozzarella – Italian bread infused with roasted garlic, brushed with more roasted garlic butter and accompanied with a roasted garlic head
‘Choked Pig – $18.95 – Pesto aioli sauce, Mozzarella cheese, sun dried tomatoes, bacon and artichoke mix finished with chopped basil and a whiskey sour cream
Zeppoli – 8.45 with Caramel – Golden fried pizza dough balls tossed in a mix of cinnamon and sugar, drizzled with chocolate
Located in the Shops at Mandalay Bay close to the entrance of Luxor it was largely a matter of their participation in restaurant.com’s discount program that led me to Slice of Vegas and having received $100 in gift certificates to the website nearly one year prior it was with $25 towards a minimum $37.50 purchase that I sat down at a rounded booth made for four, the USA vs. Brazil basketball game and Dallas Cowboys preseason matchups playing on televisions beneath the din of some forgettable pop songstress. Billed as a space for “Fun Italian Dining” with a take-out station to the left and bar-full of craft brews tucked behind it was just moments before 7:00pm that I took my seat and with the majority of diners tourists with small children the scene was decidedly rambunctious, a duo of servers including the young woman in charge of my table clearly struggling to keep pace with large orders despite efficient back-servers helping to bus tables and refill water. Unapologetically overpriced like the majority of Strip-side dining it was only after a few questions regarding the possibility of a half-and-half pizza (no for specialties, okay if you build-your-own) plus a description of the daily specials that I eventually placed an overzealous order and with an appetizer slice of foldable New York style thin-crust quickly arriving from the exterior facing window my first taste was quite favorable, the gentle crunch and pliable crumb on par with that at Pop-Up or Secret beneath a subtly sweet sauce and bubbling fresh mozzarella. Moving next to mundane garlic bread that no Italian mother would likely lay claim to it was fast on the thick loaf’s heels that my gourmet pizza would arrive and with ample toppings showing a keen eye for balance over the nearly cracker thin crust the meal was soon back on good footing, the punchy sour cream a particularly inspired pairing to mellow the marinated artichokes and herbal topnotes from the pesto and fresh basil. At this point just shy of my gift-certificate minimum I was left with a decision between the restaurant’s signature chocolate cake, a glorified brownie sundae, or balls of fried dough and opting for the later with a sidecar of caramel I’m confident to say I made the right choice – each of the seven cue-ball sized doughnuts perfectly crisp and virtually oiless beneath a hefty shake of cinnamon sugar as the duo of sauces jockeyed for position on the tongue’s already overcrowded sweetness receptors.
THREE STARS: Dramatically overpriced without the benefit of a 2/3 discount but featuring a more than competent slice along with the best Zeppoli I’ve yet to find in Las Vegas there are certainly worse options for quick casual dining on the strip and although neither service nor setting are likely to win any awards I’d happily come back to explore more of the menu if armed with another coupon, a distinct likelihood considering the general dearth of quality on restaurant.com ever since the rest of Mandalay Bay pulled out several months ago.
RECOMMENDED: Pepperoni Slice, Zeppoli (and be sure to add the caramel, a $0.50 surcharge every bit worth the indulgence)
AVOID: Mamma’s Garlic Bread – at $8.90 vastly inferior to the free bread offered at any number of mom n’ pop spaces stretching from coast to coast.
TIP: Obviously not a restaurant targeting the ballers and high rollers perhaps I should not have been caught off-guard when my receipt arrived with the suggested (pre-coupon) tip circled in pink-ink with a *star* next to the 20% but suffice it to say that such behavior has no place in any restaurant no matter what the circumstances, my young server’s not-so-subtle attempt to make a point instead proving insulting and not at all helping her cause in maximizing the night’s earnings.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor