Photo Credit: Fresco Italiano

Fresco Italiano at Westgate Las Vegas Serving Fresh Authentic Italian Cuisine

Fresco Italiano at Westgate Las Vegas has reopened along with the casino resort that sits next to the Las Vegas Convention Center. Earlier this year Chef Steve Young took over as Executive Chef, doing double duty as he also holds the same position at Edge Steakhouse next door (which hasn’t reopened yet). Very recently Chef’s brilliance was once again rewarded, as Fresco was ranked the #1 Italian restaurant in Trip Advisor (beating out 289 other restaurants), an accomplishment also bestowed upon Edge Steakhouse. After my recent visit I’m not at all surprised the restaurant has achieved this impressive accolade.

First of all, on my previous visits to Fresco I had not had the good fortune to be seated in one of its two semi-private dining rooms, but this time I was in luck. The rooms feature a round table with seating for four, high ceiling with chandelier, artwork, Old-World statues and best of all, seclusion. The rest of the restaurant is situated in a beautiful room with a Tuscan theme, featuring an open kitchen with copper overhangs, round pillars, wood floor and tables and a red brick walk adding to a rustic effect. 

Having only experienced Chef Young’s fare at the fine-dining Edge Steakhouse, I was curious about his background and experience in preparing Italian cuisine. Turns out, Chef’s mother and grandmother are Italian and during his high school years he was tasked with cooking dinner for his family every night and practiced the skills they (especially his mother) taught him. And, his 2nd professional cooking job was working for renowned Chef Michael White (known for his soulful interpretations of Italian cuisine and Michelin-starred restaurants) at Due Mari and Due Terre in New Jersey. 

Chef delighted us with a tasting that included nearly half of the menu, all of which are new items he designed since taking the reigns as executive chef. Our antipasti round included Bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and basil pesto; Calamari with Calabrian chilies; Meatballs made with slow braised pork, beef & veal topped with grana Padano and stracciatella; and Guazzetto di Cozze—Salt Springs mussels, the best I’d ever experienced that were nearly as tender as butter, which Chef shared is the reason he prefers these particular mussels. 

The pasta course was well represented by Frutti di Mare with the bounty of the sea: shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels with strozzapreti pasta and spicy tomato sauce; Salsicce Italiane e Rapini—fennel sausage, orecchiete pasta, roasted peppers and ricotta salata; and the simple yet perfect Spaghetti Pomodoro with fresh basil, garlic and grana Padano.

Although we were nearly full, we pressed on with the entree course, of which we enjoyed Costata di Manzo, a tender, flavorful, perfectly cooked 18oz bone-in rib eye with fingerling potatoes and wild mushrooms, which was evidence of Chef’s mastery of preparing prime cuts of meat; Pollo Arrosto—lemon & rosemary marinated roasted half chicken with wild mushroom marsala and creamy polenta; and Salmone in Padella served with artichoke hearts, capers, fregola sarda and lemon butter. 

Our finale was Tiramisu with mascarpone, Amaretto and espresso; and Bomboloni—lemon & ricotta doughnuts with a trio of raspberry, crème anglaise and Nutella dipping sauces. 

While the menu offerings are very reasonably priced, a great deal is the Chef Selection: a three-course menu for $40, with choice of soup or salad; Fettuccine Alfredo, Lasagna, Salmone in Padella or Pollo Arrosto; and Bomboloni, Tiramisu or Gelati. You can also add an optional wine pairing for $7 a glass.

Fresco is Italian for fresh, and after enjoying Chef Young’s offerings I can see that it was a wise choice for the restaurant’s name. And, he provided a quote that sums up keys to their success: “Keep it simple, and buy the best ingredients.” Chef never ceases to impress us with his talent and accomplishments at such a young age, having earned the Best New Chef/Rising Star award at the 2017 Silver State Awards and in 2018 being named to the Vegas Inc. 40 Under 40 list sponsored by the Greenspun Media Group. 

I used to refer to Chef as a rising star, but once again he indeed has proven himself to be an established star and clearly has risen to the top.

Open daily from 5-10 p.m. 

www.westgatedestinations.com/nevada/las-vegas/westgate-las-vegas-hotel-casino/dining/fresco_italiano