Never mind the stereotypes of greasy pizza and limp fettuccine. The best Italian restaurants in Las Vegas elevate pasta to an art form, shaping it by hand and swathing perfectly pliable noodles in knee-weakening sauces. Head to these joints before catching one of the best Las Vegas shows or after a day spent scouring the best things to do in Las Vegas. From foie-infused alfredo to simple spaghetti in tomato sauce to out-of-this-world osso bucco, these eateries deliver an authentic taste of Italy so vibrant, you’ll forget you’re 6,000 miles away. Word to the wise: don’t even think about taking advantage of the best Las Vegas happy hour deals before visiting these restaurants—you’ll want to save room for a bottle (or three) of real good Italian wine.
Best Italian restaurants in Las Vegas
If your idea of perfect Italian is linguine with clams and chicken parm, keep walking. At Portofino, chef Michael LaPlaca doesn’t so much deliver the staples as navigate deftly between creativity and comfort, developing original dishes that satisfy on both accounts. Think pumpkin spice gnocchi with braised venison, hand-cut fettuccine in foie gras alfredo or groan-worthy burrata agnolotti served with lobster, chanterelles and roasted corn butter. LaPlaca even invented his own pasta shape, the hand-torn “ripatelli,” which serves as a canvas for wild boar bolognese with roasted tomato sauce and goat cheese pesto.
Mario Carbone’s shrine to Italian-American cooking may have debuted in New York, but its spiritual home is Las Vegas, where glamorous, over-the-top dining experiences have been par for the course since the wine goddesses started pouring at Caesars Palace. Here, it’s all about returning to the days when the Rat Pack ruled the Strip, people dressed up for dinner and seasoned waiters whipped up Caesar salads and bananas flambé table-side. Embrace the pomp and showmanship, and let Carbone seduce you with elevated renditions of classics like chicken scarpariello and spicy rigatoni vodka. Bring a group of people along with you to share the massive portions and equally hefty price tag.
Among plates like black tagliolini with uni and crab or duck and foie gras ravioli in marsala reduction is the least exciting dish on Scott Conant’s menu: spaghetti with tomato and basil. It’s also one of the best. Chefs can often be judged by how well they cook the simplest items, and this peerless plate of pasta is a stunner: thick spaghetti coated in an uncluttered sauce that manages to be bright yet rich at the same time (spoiler alert: butter). Whether you order it or not, trust that it’s there, standing as an assurance that you’re in good hands.
Other glitzier eateries have opened recently on the Strip (we’re looking at you, Carbone), but when it comes to bold, flavorful Italian, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s B&B still delivers and then some. With a stacked menu of enticing dishes, the hard part is choosing between plates like garganelli with confit rabbit and hen of the woods mushrooms and spicy calamari “Sicilian lifeguard style.” Our suggestion: Go with one of the six-course tasting menus and let the kitchen do its thing.
James Beard-winning chef Julian Serrano already serves fine French cooking at Bellagio’s Picasso and modern Spanish at Aria, so it is only fitting that his next Strip foray should tackle Italy. At Lago, he does just that in a stunning setting overlooking the Bellagio fountains. The menu takes a page from Spain with tapas-style small plates. However, the flavors are deliciously and distinctly Italian. Think mini pizzas, salmon crudo with crispy capers, short rib-stuffed cannelloni and shrimp in a white wine sauce with spicy peppers. Mix and match into your own ideal tasting.
When celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis opened her first restaurant ever at the Cromwell in 2014, it was the hottest table in town, serving roughly 700 diners per day over breakfast, lunch and dinner. Did people flock there because of the name above the door? Sure, but they also found fresh, light Italian cooking with a dash of California, like bright lemony pasta and veggie Bolognese. Hit the space overlooking the Strip for dinner or visit for brunch, when the room is bathed in sunshine and the menu features chicken cacciatore with polenta waffles and lemon pesto grilled cheese.
When chef Paul Bartolotta’s eponymous eatery closed in this airy, whimsical space along Wynn Esplanade, locals bemoaned the loss of a legendary restaurant. But in its place, Mark LoRusso has created Costa di Mare, a spot that hews closely to the concept Bartolotta established, namely Italian seafood sourced straight from the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. Order a whole snapper or sea bream served with gremolata or acqua pazza or splurge on the Taste of Italy six-course, which transports diners to a different region with every dish.
Inspired, of course, by the Chairman of the Board himself, this dinner-only Italian restaurant is subtly decorated with Ol’ Blue Eyes memorabilia—including the Oscar Sinatra won for his role in From Here to Eternity—and transports visitors back to an earlier moment in Vegas history. Start with the signature Sinatra Smash cocktail and move on to Frank’s spaghetti and clams or osso bucco "My Way.”
Known to be one of the toughest reservations in town, the original Rao’s has been operating in New York City for more than 115 years. The Caesars Palace spinoff is a lot easier to access, although you’ll still need to book in advance. And the food is well worth the wait: classic Italian recipes that have been fine-tuned by the same family for more than a century. One of the house specialties is spaghetti alla bolognese, but everything on the menu is sure to please.
A veteran of the Vegas culinary scene, chef Marc Sgrizzi has long been known for running the kind of neighborhood Italian joints that make you feel like a regular from the first visit and serve the kind of food you will never forget. At this Summerlin trattoria, Sgrizzi continues that tradition with a menu of classics alongside more original dishes, all reasonably priced and extremely well executed.