NORA’S (The Original)
Daniel Gonzalez and Antonio Trillo are the two best reasons to go to Nora’s on West Flamingo. Having trained under uber-cocktail maven Gaston Martinez, they can conjure up a cocktail with the best in town. Best of all, those drinks (all made with fresh-squeezed juices and house-made mixes), are bargain priced; only $9 for an array of tasty libations that run the gamut from a Pisco Blast (Barsol pisco, M.B. Peche, yuzu and fresh sour) to a Pilgrim’s Passion (Plymouth gin, Elderflower Liqueur, passion fruit coulis, fresh sour, mint).
We’ve had their Luscious Leopard (Absolut Mandarin, Cruzan Mango tequila, mango coulis, Remy Red) and a Ruby Delight (Absolut Ruby Red, Lychee Liqueur, cilantro and blood red orange juice), but what really whets our whistle is their Spicy Daisy, a blackberry-lime-green-chile-tequila-Absolut Kurrant concoction that flirts with the pain/pleasure principle possibly as perfectly as any potent potable.
Right now, Nora’s may be every mixologist’s favorite bar in town — for taste, creativity and price — and it’s the perfect place for Cosmo drinkers to get their cocktail comeuppance — one sip of a Miracle Mile (muddled cucumber, jasmine syrup, fresh o.j. Milagro tequila and St. Germain liqueur) should do the trick.
ELV has had every creation on the menu (not in the same night), and there’s not a clinker in the bunch. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the food.
We haven’t had everything on the restaurant’s menu, but have been coming here for seventeen years. Eating Las Vegas remembers a time when there was no Olive Garden, no Maggiano’s, no Buca di Beppo and no Macaroni Grill. Yes, there was once a time when Shakey’s Pizza ruled the roost around here, and decent Italian food (much less anything even close to Fellini’s or Mimmo Ferraro’s) was unheard of. Into that void, in 1991, stepped Nora and Gino Mauro, with a tiny sliver of a pizza joint on West Flamingo, that a few times a week would make some old-country pasta notable for its authenticity and freshness.
Everyone raved about the pizzas and couldn’t wait for pasta night. Then success and expansion happened, that sliver morphed into a substantial restaurant, and we haven’t had a good meal in here since. That doesn’t keep the place from being wildly popular (red sauce sells — if you haven’t noticed), but the pedestrian nature of the food, by-the-numbers pizzas and pastas (not to mention the criminal overuse of garlic*), keeps this a restaurant whose only claim to fame is that it’s slightly better than any of the above franchises…but that’s about it.
ELV won’t beat this pastissada to death, and refers you to the snaps to see what he means. In the meantime, we forgive the Mauros their transgressions to the food of their homeland, since their other venue: Nora’s Wine Bar, washes away all sins. It remains one of our favorite (and faithful) Italian restaurants in town, and one that we never tire of. How the same family can run both is beyond our feeble brains.
The good news is that before and after all that garlic, there’s one smokin’ cocktail bar to repair to on the premises to drown your sorrows in a most fabulous way.
Nora’s is open for lunch and dinner. Our meal for five (including two $60 bottles of good Italian wine), came to $267, including tax and tip.
6020 West Flamingo Rd. #10
Las Vegas, NV 89103
* So garlicky is this cooking, you can smell it as you pull into the parking lot, hundreds of feet from the restaurant.