John Curtas is …

OFF THE STRIP

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

702.202.2448

http://offthestriplvn.com/

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9 Responses to OFF THE STRIP

  • OK, as a recent Off The Strip convert I just HAVE to defend this place.

    Sure, this place isn’t “Authentic Italian”… But IMHO that’s precisely why they don’t market themselves as “Authentic Italian”. Judging from my experience there, I think this place is more Italian-”New American”-Gastropub fusion. At least this was the vibe I was getting from the grub and the atmosphere.

    The eggplant parm I had here was most definitely among the best I’ve ever had. While it was a bit soggy from all the marinara all over it, the marinara was quite tasty and the eggplant was otherwise perfectly cooked and seasoned. And yes, there was SO MUCH that I could hardly dig into the spaghetti before I had to stop myself just to save enough room for dessert!

    And oh yes, I was grateful I had room for dessert! I really didn’t find the cheesecake grainy when I tried it. It wasn’t as heavy as the traditional NY cake, but it was certainly rich enough and sweet enough to satisfy.

    OK, so Off The Strip probably won’t be competing with Rao’s, Nove, B&B, and Sinatra for “Best Authentic Fine Italian” any time soon. But for good (and affordable) Italian-American comfort food in an otherwise “gourmet desert” that is SW Vegas, this is the place IMHO. I’m in Green Valley, and I’m willing to go all the way to Southern Highlands just for the eggplant parm and cheesecake!

  • TOM G is my hero!

  • Not just off the strip, but damn near off the grid. Go much further off the strip and indoor plumbing becomes a memory.

    Don’t think I’ll be going here anytime soon.

  • Mike C-

    Cheese louise, you’re hard to please! LOL. :-D

    Actually, I think you’ll like many items on Off The Strip’s menu. It’s not too “fru-fru”, so it shouldn’t scare you away. Next time I go with a friend (or my dad when he’s visiting), we can pick you up and take you out to our end of the ‘burbs.

    And btw, welcome to ELV Land. :-)

  • I saw an Off The Strip restaurant on Tropicana and Grand Canyon on the West Side of town – is this the same restaurant? Because those pictures look great!

  • FDR-

    Yes! I just noticed at Off The Strip’s web site that they opened a new location at Grand Canyon & Trop. I hope the food there will be as good as the original.

  • Saw you discussing Off The Strip this morning on Channel 8—John, considering your time living in the South, you know better than to wear white before Memorial Day!!!

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