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Aug 6, 2011 02:58 PM

Rao's Is It Worth A Chowhound's Experience?

I have never been to the Rao's in New York, but I trust Chowhounds explicitly. Should we dine at there Las Vegas location on an upcoming visit?

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  1. Part of the preface for reviews of Rao's have to stem with how the Manhattan location got their reputation. Was it because the food was really so special, or was it because it was so hard to get a table? After having been to the Las Vegas location twice (both because out-of-town visitors wanted to go), we offer a vote that the reputation of the original location was well-crafted.

    Both meals were good, but only that. This was not adventurous cuisine that could be found at a Valentino, B&B, or a Scarpetta, but primarily basic Italian-American standards. They were executed well, to their credit. But if you are not doing anything all that original or creative, the price points are simply absurd, even by Las Vegas standards. Bruschetta for $17? A pretty basic house salad for $15? Pasta Faglio for $15? On to the pasta courses. A simple pasta with marinara sauce for $23? Linguini simply prepared with garlic, olive oil and some chili flakes for $22? Pretty standard meat entree's like Chicken Cacciatore run $29 and Veal Parmesan (their spelling) is $49. If you want some sides, Grilled Vegetables are $16, and Roasted or Mashed Potatoes are $12. You can see it all here -

    Yes, they did quality renditions of these standards. But with so many more creative and inventive Italian restaurants on the Strip, we could not give them a passing grade, especially at the price points. So if there is a desire to go for the experience of having been there that is one thing, but if it is all about the food, Las Vegas presents better options.

    10 Replies
    1. re: QAW

      QAW, Thank you for your thoughtful response. Can you suggest an alternative?

      1. re: Leper

        This really does come down to personal preference, but we have enjoyed the creativity levels at:

        Scarpetta -
        Valentino - http://www.valentinorestaurantgroup.c...
        B&B -

        Those three all offer their own unique creations that are not going to be found elsewhere, and a more dynamic tasting experience. But at the same time they do not offer many of the comfort-food staples that are a part of "Italian-American" cuisine. It really comes down to what kind of experience each diner is looking for. Nove at the Palms is also making its way on to the list, although slightly off the Strip. And note that there are more casual offerings from Scarpetta (D.O.C.G. Enoteca) and B&B (Otto Enoteca), which can also make for a nice lunch.

        1. re: QAW

          QAW, Thank you again. Looking at the menu, B&B looks like an excellent choice. Note, I was sorry to hear that Rosemary's closed. It was a Chowhound recommendation for a visit we had a while back and we really enjoyed the entire experience. I wish them well.

          1. re: Leper

            We're from California but always enjoy going to Nora's Italian Cuisine on Flamingo Rd. It is different in some ways but we've always had an excellent meal there and it doesn't break the bank. Their lemon drop martinis are the best I've ever had anywhere.

            1. re: Neta

              Yes, Nora's was highly regarded, but unfortunately has closed. Any recommendations for a restaurant that serves food like you would get at Rao's, but at a more reasonable price?

              1. re: Steve Green

                We should do a clarification here - the original Nora's location (6020 West Flamingo) is still open. But Nora's Wine Bar and Osteria, their sister location in Summerlin, is no more.

                The original Nora's comes to mind as a good option on this list. And there are some good deals to be had right now at Ferraro's (4480 Paradise Road), which is offering 50% off for all locals until the end of September, while Casa Di Amore (2850 East Tropicana) is offering half price bottles of wine on Sunday and Monday nights.

                1. re: QAW

                  I'm glad to hear that and appreciate the clarification (as they would at Nora's) -- I didn't realize there had been two locations.

                  1. re: QAW

                    Thank you for clarifying that. I almost cried when I read Steve Green's report. We are going to LV in Sept and that is definitely on our list of places we have to eat!

              2. re: Leper

                B&B is on my wife and I's "never-ever again" list. Food was very good service was not.

                1. re: HoosierFoodie

                  We felt "taken" after having a late lunch at B&B... the food is very good, but over-priced for what you are getting.