Maggiano’s Little Italy
3200 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV
This gambling and entertainment mecca probably has the best and worst of what America has to offer from a culinary perspective. From absurdly priced, high end celebrity chef fronted establishments to the ultra cheap diners and fast food stands, there is no shortage of food in Las Vegas. It all depends on what you are wiling to pay, the level of your palate, and perhaps even the level of success (or lack of) you’ve had in the casinos.
Strangely enough, I’ve dined at Maggiano’s in an entirely different city – Orlando, FL, just last year. By chance, I came across it again on a hurried trip to the Fashion Mall to pick up something before jumping in a taxi to head to the airport and leave town. I had some mates in tow who were also in a rushed state to do some last minute shopping for the folks back home, and so we dipped in for a late lunch. As I wasn’t feeling overly hungry and did not want to feel bloated while sitting in an airplane for the next few hours, I chose just from the appetizers list.
For a family-oriented, chain restaurant, Maggiano’s suits me just fine. Its got a relaxing environment, a slightly more upscale but still homey tone than other wide ranging Italian restaurants you see across the North American continent, and it doesn’t have that sterile, strip mall feel with their decor. The Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes spoke to me as we settled into our booth facing the Strip. A slightly on the salty side and Parmesan dusted green salad that was tartly dressed accompanied two decent sized crab cakes nestled on top of a creamy, rich tomato aioli. The cakes themselves were nicely browned all around and the breading wasn’t too thick. Some filler but for the most part, it was crab meat that was nicely seasoned and cooked. Portion size was maybe on the bigger size for a starter, but after all this is Vegas.
My vegetarian lunch pal had his Eggplant Parmesan which he delved into heatedly, while our more carnivorous friend feasted on a good looking plate of Braised Beef Ravioli. Both expressed satisfaction with their meals – though the meat lover fellow is a self-admitted, non-chowhound, who commented he wished he could make food like this at home. I suppose that isn’t such a bad wish, as the food quality here is pretty good for what you’d expect. I’m sure its possible that he could learn to cook at this level. It might not be the most authentic Italian food, but after seeing the fake winter and Christmas presentations in town this week, I’m not sure what is real or imitation anymore. 🙂