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Jan 25, 2010 08:40 AM

Las Vegas: Nove Italiano

This is a “shame on us” review. Nove Italiano has been sitting there at Palms Place for a couple of years now, and there had not been much of a temptation to give them a try. There were the usual preconceived notions of a place that would be more style than substance, especially connected right to the Playboy Club. So with so many other Italian options in Las Vegas, why bother? Sunday night we finally made an appearance, when it was suggested by one of our party, and went without a lot of enthusiasm. Oops.

The setting is obviously spectacular – on the 53rd floor with the kind of panoramic views that you would expect. The sort of place where the kitchen could mail it in at ridiculous prices and get away with it. But they do not do that. The menu shows a lot of creativity, including some old-country classics like ribollita and panzanella for starters, and we began with a terrific burrata, served over top of a shaved brussel sprout salad, with a thick aged balsamic to add a little sweetness. Their menu lists the shrimp francaise appetizer as “the best you ever had”, and after skeptically trying it they are allowed to say that. The grilled octopus was also executed well, with the arancino the only appetizer that missed the mark.

But then came the key. This was hardly the kind of setting where we would expect to see “Sunday Gravy” on the menu, or “My Grandmother’s Ravioli”. So two of us were compelled to try the former, and an elegant room with great views of the strip lights at night got turned into a cozy table at an old friend’s house. A large bowl of pasta made in-house was covered with some braised short rib, braciola, Italian sausage and a large meatball, with just the right amount of sauce, and a dollop of ricotta on top. Off-set by a couple of glasses of Dolcetto d’Alba, it became a classic old-school evening. The only problem is that it left no room for dessert.

Nove does have some “haute cuisine” menu options, of course, which is required for the audience at that location. But the fact that there were so many old standards, and that they were executed so well, puts them on a go-to list that they should have been on well before this time.

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  1. Completely agree on Nove being better than expected. I wasn’t wild about their grilled octopus or their market fish (I think it was branzino the night I ordered it) but their pasta and steaks have typically delivered.

    That said, I’ve found that I actually prefer sitting in the lounge/bar area and grazing from their antipasto menu over drinks. I especially recommend their crudo (which is probably not the most difficult dish to execute, but which is simple and delicious) and their grilled whole artichoke with mustard dressing.