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Jun 11, 2012 01:20 PM

Three Nights, Two Mom and Pop Italian Restaurants

We had two events influencing our evening dining this week; a middle school graduation for a friend of our daughter and the “One Direction” concert in Planet Hollywood where we were the escorts for our daughter and one of her friends.

The middle school graduation took place in Henderson so after a bit of research we decided to give Buon Gusto (Horizon Ridge and Eastern) a try and were glad we did. We arrived around 6:30 PM after dropping off our darling daughter at her friend’s graduation ceremony. There were a few folks dining, but the phone was ringing off the hook for “to go” orders. We were promptly seated and menus provided. My spouse decided she wanted to try the Veal Marsala ($23.99) and I selected the Linguine Del Mar ($19.95) which had shrimp, mussels, clams and calamari in a spicy red sauce. With the veal dish a side of pasta or vegetables was offered. The vegetable that evening was sautéed green beans with roasted red bell pepper, olive oil and garlic. Each entrée came with a choice of soup or salad; we both selected the house salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The salads were very good with a nice selection of greens, ripe tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. The bread that accompanied the salads was piping hot; fresh out of the oven. We both agreed the bread was good but nothing special. The veal was cooked perfectly but was a bit thick for my taste, but this didn’t bother my spouse at all. The serving portion was large with plenty of mushrooms to accompany the generous amount of veal. (Note: we were sitting close enough to the kitchen that we could hear them pounding the veal shortly after we placed our order – I should have told them to hit a few more times!) The green beans were outstanding – al dente and very flavorful. The Linguine Del Mar was prepared with extra spicy sauce, as requested. The seafood was all perfectly cooked with the calamari tender and the shrimp firm, but not rubbery. One pleasant surprise was the quality of the seafood: Green Lipped Mussels, large shrimp (21-30 count minimum), large chunks of clam. A very nice dish. My spouse spotted the Tiramisu on the menu, so…… It was clearly homemade with a surprising drizzle of caramel sauce on the plate. The texture was very good, but a little sweet for my taste – even without any of the caramel.

Service was prompt and very friendly, with the staff bantering back and forth with the customers to include first timers like us.

All-in-all a very pleasant evening, with solid food. Nothing mind-blowing, but everything was well prepared using high quality, fresh ingredients.

On the night of the One Direction (One Dimension?) concert the girls decided they wanted pizza. We wanted something on the way to Planet Hollywood so we decided to give another “Mom and Pop” joint a try and stopped in at the Saucy Tomato (Sandhill and Flamingo). I know, the reviews on line aren’t great, but most just chastise them for not being “true” Chicago style fare and that was not a big concern for us. When we walked in at 6PM on a Saturday there was one table being seated ahead of us and us - it remained that way for the next hour. The girls decided they wanted to start with mozzarella sticks ($6.99) and we shared the calamari ($8.99). We also ordered two medium pizzas – the girls got the “Meaty” with sausage, pepperoni and Canadian bacon; we ordered the Margherita pizza ($18 each). The girls ordered Sprite and we were told by the waitress that they had Coke, Coke or Coke. They got Coke; just what they needed, caffeine before a boy band concert.

The appetizers arrived promptly and were, well in a word, bad. The calamari was horribly overcooked and the sauce on the side bland. The mozzarella sticks didn’t appear to be out of the freezer and the girls did eat them all; I didn’t try them. They were quite greasy and the breading was falling off... The pizzas arrived a few minutes later. The crust was very thin – which can be a good thing – but was also very dry and brittle. How hard was the crust? Well, neither pie's crust had been cut all the way through prior to serving and we had a tough time getting through it at the table even with a steak knife. The pizza was cut Chicago style in square pieces vs. slices. The girls each ate two small pieces and declared themselves “full” – not a ringing endorsement. The marghertia pizza was also a disappointment with my spouse finding a large basil stem (3 inches long, ¼ inch in diameter) on one piece that was so tough that when she bit into it (couldn’t see it under the cheese) she thought it was a piece of wood!

Service was good with refills on the drinks coming frequently and the bill promptly presented at the end of the meal (she could tell we were in a hurry). When asked if we wanted our leftover pizza they seemed surprised (?) when we said no.

All-in-all a disappointing experience.

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  1. Thanks for taking a hit for the team on Saucy Tomato, but thanks for the report on Buon Gusto. I've got a soft spot for this type of place where you can get a complete dinner for the price of the entree. That pasta sounds good.

    1. Have you tried Nora's on Flamingo? My son and I had an enjoyable dinner there the other night.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mucho gordo

        Yes, we had a company party there and the food was very good, as was the service. Nora's is a larger restaurant than either of the two reviewed above and is clearly a better choice for larger parties.

      2. Strongly suggest, based on our recent visit, that you try Chef Marc's Parma / Pastavino in Summerlin. A terrific mashup of red sauce, epicurean farm to table and Southern Italian food with great informal yet very attentive service. Better food than Chicago's La Scarola in its earliest and best pre-'Check Please' days.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Steve Drucker

          I have not eaten there, yet…. I have eaten at Mezzo, several occasions, during the time that Marc was the owner/chef. ( I am 99% sure it is the same Marc.) I have also been the beneficiary of his antipasto platters at an annual dinner a co-worker hosts. He has always served a quality product at fair prices. If we find ourselves on the West side of town this presents another option – thanks for the post.