Restaurant of the Week: Ferraro’s Ristorante

Iconic. Legendary. Las Vegas institution. Ferraro’s Ristorante on Paradise Road receives – and deserves – all these accolades and more.

Since opening at its original location on the Westside in 1985, Ferraro’s Ristorante has become the standard by which all other fine Italian restaurants in Las Vegas are measured. The second you walk in the door, you know you’re in for a special night. The lobby is filled with pictures of the Ferraro family, achievements of distinction and other awards. The host staff is always ready to greet you with a smile and, if you’re one of Ferraro’s many regular guests, a comment on who your server will be or some other appreciation of your return. Before your first bite or even your first sip, you have had a unique experience.

The espresso martini is perfection in a glass. Not too creamy, and just strong enough. Of course, Ferraro’s is known for its world-class wine list – more on that soon – but there is no shortage of pride in the cocktails they create. 

The wine list is epic, with page after page of producers from every region and containing every grape exported from Italy. If you appreciate Italian wine, there is no excuse to skip Ferraro’s Italian Ristorante. They also have a variety of fine American wines, whites and large-format (1.5L-plus) bottles. If you are unsure which wine to pair your meal with, all of the servers have extensive training and there is always a wine expert available to assist you.

Executive Chef Mimmo Ferraro has been at the kitchen’s helm since 2002. Many dining trends have come and gone during that time but many of the dishes at Ferraro’s Ristorante have remained throughout. Much of that is due to the fact that Chef’s parents were both born in Italy, so the menu reflects the traditional dishes you would actually find if you visited “the old country.” The menu has evolved over time, but dishes like you find at Ferraro’s never go out of style. And everything is made fresh in-house, so these dishes can be perfected and fine-tuned as the years go by.

There’s no wrong way to enjoy dinner at Ferraro’s Ristorante, but the coursing-style menu shines the brightest when sharing a couple dishes for the table before enjoying your entree. An antipasto dish like the Bufala Mozzarella e Barbabietole – homemade buffalo mozzarella with roasted beets – is so creamy and the flavors are so distinct, it only takes a few bites to fully appreciate it. Nobody will blame you if you keep it to yourself, but then how can you claim a few bites when someone else orders the Carpaccio di Manzo? Carpaccio seems to be one of those dishes that is a window into the rest of the food. If a restaurant serves it, it’s a good sign. If they prepare it as expertly as Ferraro’s, you know the rest of the dishes will be no joke. Thinly sliced prime sirloin with arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano, a touch of lemon oil and mustard sauce, is rolled up and cut. It will leave you drooling. 

Any of the pasta dishes can be enjoyed as your main course or shared among the table. When Ferraro’s Ristorante says everything is made fresh in-house, that includes the pasta. The texture and density of the al dente noodles – “If you would like it overcooked, please notify your server” it announces at the top of the pasta section – are both better for digestion and allows whatever is accompanying the noodle (sauce, meat, etc.) to stick better to the noodle so you can enjoy the dish more thoroughly with each bite. A perfect example is the Rigatoni di Spilinga. “It is a traditional pasta dish that [owner] Gino [Ferraro] brought into the restaurant from his hometown,” says our server, Francesco. “The andouille comes from the town of Spilinga in Calabria, it is a spreadable sausage.” It is also accompanied with Caciocavallo cheese and toasted breadcrumbs. 

The silky Gnocchi Porcini e Tartufi melts in your mouth due to the pillowy homemade gnocchi. The pancetta, porcini and black truffle cream add a layer of earthiness and richness. It is one of the newer menu items and seems destined to be a crowd favorite.

“This is the dish that put Ferraro’s on the map. All you have to do is look at it and it cuts itself,” Francesco says when the osso buco was presented to the table. The veal shank is braised for eight hours and is finished in a red wine reduction and with veal stock. It is accompanied with farro. For those who want something a little lighter or prefer fish for an entree, the Merluzzo d’Alaska is wonderfully tender black Alaskan cod, served in a prosecco black truffle sauce with shaved black truffles on top and broccolini for an accompaniment.

Dessert is far from an afterthought at Ferraro’s. Traditional favorites like tiramisu or gelato and sorbetto are always available. Other options like Nutella-stuffed crepes or panna cotta will please the sweetest of teeth. Any dessert choice pairs well with a selection of ports, Italian aperitifs or a double espresso to jolt you back to life. 

Ferraro’s is open for dinner 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., Sunday through Thursday, and until 1:30 a.m., Friday and Saturday. Happy hour is offered nightly from 5 to 7 p.m. and reverse happy hour is from 11 p.m. until close in the lounge.

For more information about Ferraro’s Ristorante, visit www.ferraroslasvegas.com.

Food photo credit: Gaby Duong @gabyduong

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