September 1, 2009

Restaurant Week: Rao's

We chose Rao’s at Caesars Palace for our second meal during Restaurant Week. I’ve heard all kinds of praises about the place since it opened, but we’ve never gotten around to trying it. This was the perfect excuse for us to see for ourselves. Our reservations were at 5:45, the restaurant appeared cavernous with only a few diners that early. Tables filled as the night went on.

Our server, Sean, was prompt and friendly throughout the entire meal; a welcomed change after our experience earlier at Simon.

Rao’s is currently offering a $50 Prix Fixe menu, in addition to the Restaurant Week menu for $50.09. Items offered varied slightly between the two. We decided to order off each to sample everything that piqued our interest.

The bread basket included the following: parmesan crackers, breadsticks, rosemary ciabatta, Italian and olive slices. A bottle of extra virgin olive oil is on every table, it was fruity and light. We enjoyed it all while waiting for our appetizers.

I started with crab and shrimp salad rolled up in well seasoned roasted slices of eggplant. It was wonderfully fresh and flavorful. Frank enjoyed the seafood salad, but thought less of the eggplant.

His appetizer was a fried mozzarella sandwich served with marinara sauce. Think deep fried grilled cheese; needless to say we both liked it. However, we were less than thrilled by the marinara sauce. We found it watery and bland.

Next, we shared Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and sweet sausage. The pasta was perfectly cooked and the sweet sausage was very good. Conversely, the dish was over dressed in olive oil, it pooled to the bottom of serving bowl. Usually we both enjoy Broccoli Rabe, I prepare it often at home, but this was overly bitter. I expected it to be better.

Entrees followed, Frank had meatballs and spaghetti. Again, the pasta was wonderful. The meatball was decent, but didn’t compare to those that Frank’s Sicilian grandma used to make – the search continues. Unfortunately, the marinara sauce was no different than what was served with mozzarella sandwich.

I had veal scaloppini topped with artichokes, prosciutto and sage sauce, served with mashed potatoes. I thought the veal was a bit overdone, but otherwise felt the dish was well executed.

We were both pretty full by this point, but we still had dessert to go. Thankfully, we were given a short lull before our cheesecake and tiramisu arrived.

The tiramisu was creamy, the lady fingers were so moist they melted in your mouth. It was a nice preparation, but better versions can be found at Stratta or Fiamma.

We sampled the Italian-style ricotta cheesecake. It was rich and silky and the crust had a lemony flavor. It was very good. Both desserts were large portions neither of us was able to finish.

Overall it was a satisfying meal, I’m happy we gave it a try. However, it’s doubtful we’d return. There’s too many other top-notch Italian Restaurants nearby… Stratta, Fiamma and Onda all come to mind.

I wish the photos were better, but I was proud I remembered this time. When you're anxious to dig you don't have much time to get a good shot. Hopefully, they'll only get better from here.

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