John Curtas is …

GAETANO’S

Gaetano’s is the type of restaurant we ordinarily ignore. The reason being, something-for-everyone Italian may be what the common American loves to dine upon, but it is generally so generic we can’t work up much enthusiasm for it one way or another.

And, as you know, ELV may be all for the common folk, but he has no desire to be one of them. Or eat their by-the-numbers, boring, cliched, over-sauced and under-thought chow.

Even  more to the point, whenever we chow on someone’s sacred cow — like Cafe Chloe, Piero’s, Buon Gusto — and tell its acolytes what we really think of the food, all we get in return is a bunch of scrunched faces.

So we usually take a pass.

But Steve Sebelius insisted. So here we go.

The room is big, well-lit and inviting. The tables and chairs well-spaced and very comfortable. We didn’t gander too long at the wine list, but it seemed well-chosen and well-priced for the clientele. The bread was moist and fresh (not always the case out in the ‘burbs).

An antipasti platter arrived as soon as we sat down and the house-marinated veggies (and the sharp cheeses) were a hit with the table. Next came a scamorza-draped portabello mushroom that was a belly bomb, but a belly bomb in the best of ways — oozing melted, smoky cheese on a big, meaty ‘shroom.

Next came a pasta tasting of four ravioli of which the mushroom and English pea-stuffed one got our attention, while the others, while tasty enough, would hardly challenge Luciano Pellegrini or Vincenzo Scarmiglia for pasta hegemony on our shores.

The meatballs were next and they were positively Rao-esque — light-yet-beefy and napped in a vibrant tomato sauce.

Main courses were exactly what we expected: filling and fun, but about as challenging as an episode of Jersey Shore. Steve ordered the gnocchi with gorgonzola and both the pasta and cheese were properly made — if done with a slightly heavy hand. Pillow-light little knots or knuckles these were not, but the tangy cheese sauce atoned for its sins.

It was hard to cover the sins of the braciola (rolled beef) dish we had — it being so dry it took our voice away. Eryn (Steve’s wife) implored us to try a center piece, and while it didn’t hit our throat like a High Mojave wind in July, it didn’t remove the memory of our first bite, either.

Things improved immeasurably with the sauteed sea bass, and a stuffed veal chop that could’ve fed a corps of NFL linebackers, or one Steve Sebelius.

Mr. Gaetano took it easy on us by offering a sampling of gelatos and sorbets (all quite tasty), and by lubricating us with a second bottle of wine.

Our final impression of Gaetano’s: it’s a darn sight better than any chain Italian, with a warm, welcoming staff that obviously knows its customers and knows how to keep them happy. Don’t expect Valentino, Scarpetta or Sirio and you will eat well…and a lot.

On the other hand, if Valentino, Scarpetta or Sirio opened in Henderson, they’d probably go out of business…even with much softer prices.

So there you go.

ELV’s meal was comped.

GAETANO’S RISTORANTE

10271 South Eastern Avenue

Henderson, NV 89052

702.361.1661

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13 Responses to GAETANO’S

  • Gaetano’s subscribes to the theory that just when you have created a good dish…add two or three more ingredients, and surely it will be even better…as you well know, that is not true. Their food is over the top with often cloying sauces (as evidenced by most of your photos). One night broccoli was the side vegetable. It was so underdone that every plate that we could see in the place had it left over. I mentioned this to Gaetano, and he looked around, said…”well don’t eat it”…turned on his heel and walked away. His son was embarrassed, his wife could not have cared less…and that is the last time we have been to Gaetano’s.

  • I really like Gaetano’s. I have been going for 5 years and also frequented the place when he was in Calabasas California. Does everything work, of course not, but there is love in the food and it is proudly family run.

    The calabrese sausage is outstanding, the veal chop is terrific and the stuffed figs in season to die for. And as you said John, he isnt Valentino and isn’t trying to be. It is the onlyItalian restaurant in Henderson that is worth a damn and that includes the vastly overrated Bratalian.

  • I agree with Jeff on Bratalian. The only people that fawn over it are friends of the owner and critics (which are usually one in the same). Then again, I like Firefly, so what do I know. :)
    Gaetano’s is pretty good.

  • Spot on your review. Very average ItaloAmerican style food.
    If you are ever in Los Angeles though, you should try his brother’s restaurant “Palmieri”, in Brentwood, It’s very good.

    ps. yes, “Bratalia” sucks

  • Food looks very good.

  • Most Dago eatieries suck out here. Why? The owner is forced to hire mexicans. They can’t cook, period. Putting cheese on a nacho is the best they can do. Good luck on your quest for italian food.

  • Can we begin the nomination process and submit the Goodfella comment as the front-runner for the most clueless of 2012. Or perhaps in the history of this site.

  • Gaetanos isn’t perfect – you can’t go in expecting some of the best the city has to offer. They are a bit over the top and sometimes dishes plain fall flat there. They have so many specials that they might as well print a seperate menu, otherwise you end up having to take notes. Last time I was there I had the Hawaiian pink snapper that had no discernable seasoning. The ravioli is pretty spectacular.

    But what makes it worth going there over others was the restaurant.com certificates, which really lowered the bills enormously. Strip restaurants that do this kind of food better, for us common folks, are a special occasion. Las Vegas foodie royalty like John, Al, and Max get to eat wherever they want, when they want. At least Gaetanos is a place many of us can afford all the time.

  • Quincy – In answer to your question, I don’t know. We’ll have to go back and look. Goodfella may have posted other comments in 2012.

  • Most clueless comment, but I Laughed out loud. Way to go Goodfella. No need for a PC world

    # 6 Goodfella Says:
    July 12th, 2012 at 11:39 pm
    Most Dago eatieries suck out here. Why? The owner is forced to hire mexicans. They can’t cook, period. Putting cheese on a nacho is the best they can do. Good luck on your quest for italian food.

  • ELV responds: Don’t no one go baggin’ on no Mexicans. We dedicated our last edition of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants to “…all the Mexicans who really cook the food.” and we have nothing but respect for their talent and work ethic….no matter what sort of eatery they’re slaving away in.

  • I am reminded of the late Nora Ephron’s much repeated comment of (words to the effect of) declining all dining invitations to boring or mediocre restaurants on the grounds that one only has so many meals on this earth and why waste even one of them?

  • Oh, it’s on like Donkey Kong, John Curtas! Now, I know I may not be a fancy food critic with a book, a column, a TV show and regular appearances on the second-best TV station in the valley, and I know I may be partial to dining at Chili’s, and I know that my previous endorsement of Buffalo Wild Wings and Yard House puts my judgment in question, but I think you’re totally wrong about Gaetano’s! I have literally never had a bad meal there, and you know we fatties can eat! But unlike my fellow fatties, I value quality even over quantity. And I can say, in all seriousness, that I have never had a bad meal at that restaurant in my life — and i particularly love the braciola dish you said was too dry. So there!

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