(ELV loves this pic cuz he thinks it’s artsy)
ELV — the man, the myth, the inveterate Italianate — has eaten in Ferraro’s more times than he can count. His first meals there — at the west Flamingo location — were probably when chef Mimmo Ferraro was in short pants. He has eaten at Ferraro’s in its pre-great wine list phase, in its “the-only-good-Italian-restaurant-in-town” phase, through its pink neon phase and through its “let’s-get-closer-to-the-Strip” phase. ELV has seen Ferraro’s through so many phases you would think it was one of his unruly children.
And that’s the way he has often thought of the place.
ELV has eaten at Ferraro’s with ex-wives, dates, p.r. people, legal colleagues, clients, fallen women, food writers, wine writers, friends, acquaintances and even multiple times with the long-suffering Food Gal®. ELV has eaten in Ferraro’s so many times, over so many years, you would think it was his favorite Italian restaurant in the world.
It’s not, but something tells me it could be getting there.
And that something is Gino Ferraro…and Mimmo….and the whole Ferraro family, who are pleased as punch that Francesco di Caudo has joined their culinary team and is bringing some Sicilian swagger to the kitchen:
(A Sicilian, a Neapolitan and a Calabrese walk into a bar….)
You know it’s good when Enzo Febbraro (the sleek, Italian greyhound in the center of the picture above, who does helm one of our favorite restaurants – Allegro in the Wynn), tells you to make a special trip just to taste the updated menu.
So go ELV did, and impressed he was.
Ferraro’s has always had a good wine list. About a dozen years ago it started having a great wine list. Now, it has a lista dei vini that might be one of the best (Italian lists) in the country. Even better is the fact that paterfamilias Gino (the mustachioed/bearded gent on the right, above), loves to discount amazing, obscure bottles of serious wine to keep his inventory moving. (If you want to quibble with his wine program – and it will be an extremely minor one – you might wish his by-the-glass offerings were a bit more inventive.)
But quibbles will quickly be quashed after one bite of di Caudo’s sardines (top of the page), or his silky smooth tomato risotto:
….or their sensational short ribs:
….or a calves liver in red wine that will make you weep:
…especially when paired with an Amarone della Valpolicella chosen personally by Gino to compliment the dish.
Lest you think Mimmo and Francesco are only capable of meaty-winy delights, their octopus with olives:
…was a dish so fine that even an old Neapolitan like Enzo was swooning over it.
Now, we at ELV are not going to pretend that this was just any old meal we had here. The dinner was a special occasion for Max Jacobson (see previous post), and the Ferraros rolled out the red carpet for him and us.
Part of that special treatment was showing off the new dishes Mimmo has been working on with Francesco, BUT if the day to day fare is half as good as the 12 course feast we tasted, this kitchen has taken a turn for the the much, much better.
Not that there was anything wrong with the dozens of other meals ELV had had in the joint. It’s just that there was always a tension about the place that spoke to the Ferraros trying to please the fettuccine Alfredo crowd as well as the lovers of the intense, authentic food of their homeland. Sometimes they succeeded; sometimes they didn’t. (These folks are as Italian as Fredrico Fellini after all.) But these days, with a little more inspiration in the kitchen, we can confidently say that the food is finally becoming worthy of the wine list.
“It’s like I’ve tasted a whole new restaurant!” we said to Gino as we were leaving. He gave us a knowing smile and a big hug on our way to the door, knowing, as we did, that this was the best phase yet of this iconic Italian….and that we would be back soon.
FERRARO’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT & WINE BAR
4480 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89169