We’ve been to Off The Strip once. Two Saturdays ago. The place was packed.
We have a feeling this place is packed every Saturday night. And Friday nights for that matter. In fact, the pickins are so slim in this neck of the woods, we imagine OTS is the go to place for anyone in this neighborhood with a mortgage and a leased Lexus who wants to get out of the house.
As we walked in, Eating Las Vegas — www.eatinglv.com (a website you might be familiar with) — was on the screen of a laptop sitting on the bar.
Then, the owner spotted us and was more than welcoming, and more than eager to put half the menu before us. That owner, Tom Goldsbury, who runs the place with his chef/brother Al Hubbard, is a veteran of a number of on- and off-the-Strip restaurants and steakhouses, including Smith & Wollensky, Ruth’s Chris, and the gone-and-mostly-forgotten Pacific Fish Company.
Which explains the crowd-pleasing nature of their food. And why it skews so heavily into pasta-steak-and-sauce territory.
Subtle this cooking isn’t. The very good shrimp come bathed in so much Thai sweet chili sauce that half a cup of the stuff is left after you’ve finished your crustaceans. Likewise, the pork roulade should be rechristened “kitchen-sink pork” since it contains mozzarella, Parmesan, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, mushrooms and enough wine sauce to cover three more orders.
But filling it is, which also explains the appeal of the “rolled New York” — pounded sirloin wrapped around asparagus and provolone and dressed with a Marsala mushroom sauce. Tender, beefy and cheesy, it was nevertheless, a bit much for a starter course — a theme that runs throughout the appetizers.
A bit lighter were the (excellent) fried calamari, and the baked Green Lip mussels oreganata– topped with a beurre blanc that brought nothing to the party.
If you haven’t guessed by now, Off The Strip is an Italian restaurant — even if it doesn’t call itself one. It is tiny (40 seats), charming, reasonable, and just what a neighborhood like Southern Highlands needs, wants, and will support. (In fact, it has done just that for two years now.)
Overall, this kitchen is so fond of heaping ingredients on ingredients you would swear Todd English was behind things. This tendency appears to be a-okay with OTS’s many fans (it’s the number one-rated local restaurant on Yelp!), but many recipes are a tad inartful for a cranky critic.
That being said, those looking for a (very good) meatball fix, or jonesin’ for a decent Bolognese over perfectly cooked rigatoni, will feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven.
Those looking for a little more discernment (and a little less sauce) with their Italian eats may want to stick closer to Las Vegas Boulevard.
Our meal for two was comped.
OFF THE STRIP
10670 Southern Highlands Pkwy. Suite 102B
Las Vegas, NV 89141