Photos by Joe Urcioli & Lauren Ungerer

Fresco Italiano at Westgate Las Vegas Serving Fresh Authentic Italian Cuisine

Fresco Italiano at Westgate Las Vegas recently hosted media to meet new executive chef Paola Bugli and her new menu. Both Chef Paola and GM Dora Pane treated us as family as soon as we walked through the doors, with tremendous hospitality and equally incredible cuisine. Chef Paola, a native of Florence, Italy, took over the kitchen in February and is putting her expertise in authentic Italian cooking to good use. She delighted us with a tasting that included Bruchette al Pomodoro with heirloom tomatoes; Crostini di Carpaccio—beef carpaccio with truffle oil and shaved Grana Padano; Gamberi e Polenta—sautéed shrimp over sundried tomatoes polenta; Filetto di Branzino con Farrotto e Salmoriglio—Mediterranean sea bass fillet over farro risotto; Porchetta—Tuscan-style roasted pork tenderloin with caramelized onions and broccolini; Tortellacci di Ossobuco—rosemary pasta stuffed with ricotta and mascarpone cheese over braised veal shank; and Semifreddo al Croccantino—semifreddo gelato with nut brittle.

My only regret was that I became so stuffed I couldn’t eat any more, as my version of heaven would have been to continue enjoying into eternity. This was my first visit to Fresco, but certainly not my last. Located right next to Edge Steakhouse and across from Benihana, it’s set in a beautiful room with a Tuscany theme featuring an open kitchen with copper overhangs, round pillars, wood floor and tables, a rotating photo display depicting scenes in Italy and a red brick walk adding to a rustic effect. Fresco is Italian for fresh, and after enjoying Chef Paola’s offerings I can see that it was a wise choice for the restaurant’s name. 

Open daily from 5 p.m. www.westgatedestinations.com/nevada/las-vegas/westgate-las-vegas-hotel-casino/dining/fresco_italiano

Chef Scott Conant Opens Masso Osteria at Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa

Acclaimed chef, author, restaurateur and Chopped judge Scott Conant has been missed since he closed D.O.C.G. and stepped away from Scarpetta at The Cosmopolitan. After mastering both casual and fine dining Italian on the Vegas Strip, now he is back in town, but this time off the Strip, with his Masso Osteria Italian eatery inside Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa, which is the James Beard award-winning chef’s first collaboration with Station Casinos. 

Opened in February in the space most recently occupied by Salute Trattoria, the new restaurant has a refined yet comfortable ambience with the feel of both casual and fine dining, and offering in Chef Conant’s words: “serious food that doesn’t take itself seriously.” The Masso moniker is Italian for boulder, chosen to reflect the nearby Red Rock Mountains the resort is named for. The décor reminds me of an Italian wine cellar, as the room is graced with a wood beam ceiling and rustic white brick walls. Other accoutrements are Conant’s favorite saying—Peace Love Pasta—lit up in neon lighting, and a large patio facing Charleston Blvd. offering al fresco dining.

Chef Conant is known for his mastery of pasta, and the pasta menu is well represented with Gemelli, a mix of sausage, peas and tomato. A wood-burning oven is put to good use on meats, fish, vegetables and pizzas like the D.O.C.G. Pizzette with fonduta, truffles and poached egg. Other worthy menu items include Classic Meatballs composed of veal/pork with capers, fregola and concentrated tomatoes; a robust, sizeable boneless Veal Chop Milanese with arugula salad; Cedar-roasted Whole Sea Bass with tomato glaze and grilled vegetables; and dining at a Scott Conant restaurant is not complete without indulging in his signature Salted Caramel Budino topped with a gianduia crumble. 

Oenophiles will enjoy the selection of 300 wines (34 by the glass) with vintages mainly from Italy, as well as a collection from Argentina, France and California; and sitting at the intimate wine bar near the entrance, where they can sample 1-, 3- or 6-oz pours of the sommelier’s rotating pick list (which can be ordered in the rest of the dining room too). 

Masso Osteria is the latest edition to Chef Conant’s growing restaurant empire, which also includes Fusco in NYC, The Pointe Ristorante in L. A., Mora Italian in Phoenix and Cellaio in the Catskills, NY. Chef Conant no longer resides in NYC, and the proximity of Las Vegas to his home in Scottsdale will hopefully mean we’ll be seeing a lot more of the affable and extremely talented restaurateur, but at the very least, we can once again enjoy his mastery of Italian cuisine. 

Open daily for dinner from 5 p.m.; social hour Sunday through Friday 4-6 p.m.

www.massoosteria.com