Panino with Tomatoes, Ciabatta, Grissini, Piadina, Garlic Lentil Spread
Prosciutto di Parma, Creminelli Salame Felino, San Daniele, Mozzarella di Bufala, Sheep Ricotta, Burrata with Crostini
Focaccia Pizza – Mozzarella, Crème Fraiche, Smoked Salmon, Chives, Red Onion
Fried Calamari – Cherry Peppers, Spicy Tomato Sauce
Beef and Pork Meatballs, Sausage, Tomato Sauce
Baked Lasagna Napoletana – Sunday Meat Ragu Sauce with Meatballs, Pork, Smoked Mozzarella, Pine Nuts
Risotto Pescatora – Shrimp, Scallops, Calamari, Mussels, Clams
Osso Buco D’Agnello – Bone in Lamb Shank, Vegetable Stew, Pappardelle Pasta
Veal Chop Parmigiana – 12oz Pounded Veal Chop, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella
Baba au Rhum with Bluberries
Bread Pudding with Rum Raisin Ice Cream
Pear Frangipane Tarte
Double Espresso on Ice
Highly praised by a pair of palates that I’ve come to know and trust it was with four friends that I sat down at Wynn’s Allegro on Saturday evening, and although the restaurant features prominently just outside Showstoppers at the crux of the Wynncore complex the food being served inside is every bit the definition of a ‘treasure hidden in plain sight,’ the three-course tasting billed at $60 per person proving a remarkable dining deal in a casino where lofty prices and luxurious environs almost invariably are the rule.
Dubbed as a ‘casual’ restaurant on resort website, but in reality a swanky sort of space with dark mahogany juxtaposing buttery red leather seats, offset by lighter tones of white woods and hints of beige, Allegro features the culinary talents of Enzo Febbraro, and with teeth cut in some of the East Coasts most classic Italian Eateries the cuisine is the heavy yet elegant sort served up by many Italian Mamas but with the sort of ingredients few would be likely to invest in, the product sourcing of a billion-dollar enterprise on full display with everything from produce to proteins flown in fresh with the same quality seen elsewhere in the resort without all the pomp or circumstance as Dean, Frank, and even Neil Diamond serenade softly overhead.
Served ‘family style’ at our request to the chef, leaflets raised to accommodate the quantity of food, it was with the first of two bread baskets that the meal began and eschewing olive oil or butter for a puree of legumes and garlic the creamy concoction proved a hit across the table, a second helping replenished without request, though for my part the tomato-topped pannino and pillowy focaccia was far better suited to sopping up tomato sauce from saporous, smooth meatballs or for topping with a slice of San Daniel Prosciutto and funky sheep’s milk ricotta from a board of charcuterie that would have easily topped $60 by itself anywhere else on The Strip.
Continuing with antipasti, suffice it to say that kitchen’s take on Wolfgang Puck’s signature pizza was a masterwork of crisp crust, smoky salmon, and plenty of tang from crème fraiche while the oft overdone calamari was highly touted by the chef as ‘just a little undercooked,’ resultant rings and tentacles the very definition of creamy beneath crunchy without a bit of over-breading or oiliness to be found.
At this point already impressed, and surprisingly full as a result of so much bread and cheese this early on, it was after a bit of respite and conversation that round two arrived and as plethoric as the first selections had been, the pasta and secondi were absolutely gargantuan, a “12oz” pounded veal Parmigiana undoubtedly under-billed and easily sixteen inches in diameter while lamb osso buco was fatty and rich, literally falling from the bone into ribbons of house pappardelle slicked by a smoky vegetal stew.
No less impressed by tender risotto, cooked in octopus stock with at least a pound of mixed shellfish kicking up the flavors of the sea to a significant extent, it was finally with an unbreaded approximation of Eggplant Parmigiana and Shortrib lasagna that savories would conclude, the former essentially reinventing a classic into something light and creamy beneath the caramelized cheese while the later was substantially more decadent, the layers of pasta barely able to keep up with all the mozzarella and meat as ground pinenuts came through as a basenote at the end.
Upcharged on espresso, a double over ice billed at a steep six dollars, it was again after a much needed delay that desserts would arrive and although far less substantial in portion than the plates preceding the pastry staff proved no less skilled than the luminescent and bustling savory kitchen, the tiramisu a bit run of the mill while bread pudding and a caramelized pear crostata were texturally complex and well balanced in sweetness, the baba felt a bit too boozy for some, but an absolute reference standard of the Italian variety to those familiar – a dessert worth seeking out in a city where sugar-steeped versions are far more easily found.
FOUR STARS: Priced on the level of similar Strip-Side eateries like those at The Venetian, but turning out the sort of cuisine that takes ‘red sauce’ to a rarified heights, it is truly a shame that Allegro is relegated to second tier status by the reign of celebrity chefs, because as much respect as those folks may deserve for their pasts I’d be hard pressed to name anyone on Las Vegas Boulevard save for the team at Portofino putting more passion into Italian Cuisine at this moment, the Mirage space a bit more ‘formal’ while the later feels like the sort of cooking passed from generation to generation in a grand Italian home.
RECOMMENDED: Beef and Pork Meatballs, Veal Parmigiana, Lamb Osso Buco, Eggplant Parmigiana, Baba au Rhum.
AVOID: Overpriced coffee and wine, filling up on the bread basket, and any plans for strenuous activity later that evening unless you skipped lunch or show far more restraint than I.
TIP: Open from 5pm until late at night and offering tasting menus of 3-4 courses, those interested in an experience such as ours are encouraged to contact the restaurant directly as both the Chef and GM are glad to accommodate a family style tasting provided advanced notice is made.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor