For the annual, Friday night, let’s try a place with some good eats dinner, we decided we wanted to stay close to home. That and I didn’t really take the time to plan in advance because we just didn’t know what time we were going to go to dinner. Close to home meant Caesar’s (as opposed to Wynn or MGM which are probably my two favorite restaurant casinos), and the two options we narrowed it down to were Rao’s and Bradley Ogden…finally deciding on Rao’s. Italian just seemed like the way to go.
Rao’s in Caesar’s is an off-shoot of the Rao’s in New York City; quite the well known Italian place. In the casino, the restaurant has a facade that matches the New York space. As expected, there was a wait to get into the dining room, but the bar was open, so the three of us (Nick, Mark and myself for those of you that don’t know who “us” might be). We lined up in a row and waited for a good five minutes before one of the two bartenders decided to saunter over and see if we needed anything. He then took our drink orders one at a time…meaning take one, walk away, get the drink come back, repeat. Then they gave us another 10 minutes or so to figure out what to order…even though we wanted to order at the same time as we ordered our drinks.
Once we got everything figured out, the food took about a quarter the amount of time to start arriving. That’s a convoluted way of saying it took about 5 minutes for the first dish to show; the famous Rao’s meatballs. Two big meatballs coated in a simple red sauce. I debated wolfing down the whole plate before Nick and Mark noticed, but ended up cutting them up to share. They were delicious in their simpleness. A moist meatball that was just perfectly cooked and a light, simple, vibrant tomato sauce. I couldn’t get over how simple, but perfect it seems.
While I was still wondering how I could make my own red sauce like that, the entrees started to arrive. Both Nick and Mark went with pasta which were mixed and plated tabler…er…barside. I, on the other hand, felt I was going through vegetable withdrawals, so I made sure that my dish was full of veggies. That meant the Chicken Scarpariello. I was going to go with the lemon chicken, their uber-specialty, but it didn’t have vegetables. At this point…I need to digress…
I’ve been thinking about how to describe this dish and the best I can come up with is…the sauce could have been served on top of a leather sandal and it still would have been delicious. Seriously. It was a white wine sauce that had this little kick from the peppers, a wonderful combination of slightly sweet and slightly spicy. There was so much flavor that there really didn’t need to be any chicken in it. And in fact, it was the chicken that was the one slight downer of the dish. It was actually a touch dry, but given the amount of sauce, that wasn’t a big deal. The big deal was that every bite had bones in it. I like cooking with the bones to add flavor, but when you get small rib bones in each bite, it’s tough to eat. I either have to try and cut around them, or do the less sophisticated thing and just pull bones out of my mouth while I ate.
At the end, the bartender tried to take the plate away from me while there was still sauce in it. I kind of gave her the evil eye and asked for more bread to sop it up with. Our dinner was definitely good. Very flavorful, very enjoyable. The bar was an ok place to eat, but it was kind of dark and quiet and chill which isn’t what you really expect in Vegas, especially during NCAA weekend. And the service definitely left a bit to be desired. But all-in-all, a good pic for our Friday stop.