Zach has some relatives in the Las Vegas/Henderson area, so we called his cousin Alex to invite him to join us for dinner at Bacio inside the renovated Tropicana. This Italian restaurant impressed the three of us on many levels.
The signature cocktails were refreshing. August got the restaurant’s own bellini and Zach their mojito, and Alex’s pomegranate lemonade is a Tropicana signature libation. The Bacio Bellini features prosecco, peach puree, lemon juice, grenadine, and a blackberry garnish; August usually doesn’t go for fruity drinks, but this one was very nice. The Italian Mojito has fresh basil, agave, Bacardi rum, and prosecco; Zach felt the sweet basil flavor was mild but thirst-quenching. The pomegranate lemonade is mixed with Belvedere vodka, pomegranate, Pama, fresh lemon, and pomegranate seeds; Alex’s drink was mixed very well, and even though the vodka was smooth, he could tell it was stiff.
“Deep-fried breaded mozzarella sandwich, marinara sauce” is the description for this appetizer. Our friendly and savvy waiter Anthony explained that mozzarella in carozza is actually more of a sandwich than a stick like we’re accustomed to seeing, in that there is a thin, battered piece of bread layered with the cheese, which was then wholly breaded before deep frying. The bread was very, very thin, but it added a little extra something to make this mozzarella stick memorable. The mozzarella used was particularly creamy, not something you typically experience, but it wasn’t so loose that it melted everywhere. The marinara sauce was house made with fresh ingredients. The tomatoes were sweet and well balanced with garlic and basil.
This platter arrived with prosciutto, salami, sopressata, tomatoes, kalamata olives, grilled zucchini, a lightly dressed arugula salad with vinaigrette, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, and buffalo mozzarella cheese. Each component was fresh and of the highest quality. The kalamata olives deserve particular praise, as these weren’t shockingly bitter or overpowering like kalamatas can sometimes be.
Diced salami, more kalamata olives, chiffonade basil, tomatoes, mozzarella, and Parmesan were the toppings of today’s “flatbread of the day.” The dough was light, tender, and slightly crisp, a hand rolled and flavorful backdrop to the fresh ingredients. It was an effort to resist eating it all, since we had to save room for our entrees.
Fresh artichoke hearts were nearly mistakable for the pieces of chicken amidst the pappardelle noodles in a cream sauce with prosciutto. The hearts weren’t bitter at all, indicating their freshness. The white meat chicken cuts were tender, and care was taken in their preparation; chicken needs to be cooked slowly to achieve the best texture and flavor. The small diced cubes of prosciutto added a saltiness to the simple ingredients, bringing them together for a light yet filling and savory dish.
August’s favorite pasta is gnocchi. These, though, were the first al dente gnocchi she had had, and they were surprisingly delightful. A bit of texture goes a long way and made these very mouth pleasing; she thought gnocchi were supposed to be a little mushy after years of having it served to her that way, but tonight changed her mind. The tomato sauce was loaded with ground beef, veal, and pork, which were wonderfully rich flavors to top the potato dumplings.
The thinly pounded veal scaloppini in this dish was tender and mild flavored. The wine for the Marsala sauce was high quality, since it wasn’t sickly sweet like cheap Marsalas can be. It was the kind of sauce where you need a slice of bread to soak up the remains. The mushrooms were sauteed and complemented the texture of the veal very well so as not to compete. Zach says, “That’s the best veal I’ve had so far.”
A little almond shortbread cookie and an artful sprinkle of cocoa garnished the tiramisu with marscapone cheese, coffee zabaglione, and Irish cream charlotte (yes, Irish cream in an Italian tiramisu). Light, creamy, and not too much coffee flavor yet enough to know it was there, this was a nice treat personally brought to us by Chef Anastasia.
Pate choux (puffed pastry) was transformed into mini sandwiches with vanilla gelato and warm chocolate sauce. The pastries were delicate, the gelato was smooth and creamy with natural vanilla flavor, and the chocolate was bittersweet (to Zach’s delight). More true to real chocolate, nothing about this was overly sweet. And how much more perfect could you get than three portions for three people?
Out of the three desserts we had, this was the table’s overall favorite. The pastry shell was flaky, buttery, and perfectly golden brown. The apple was tender but still had a slight bite to it. It was sliced very thinly and placed so gingerly within the pastry, at first it looked like a second scoop of gelato. It was definitely a wonderful base for the caramel gelato. Drizzled with a caramel sauce, this dessert was easy to deconstruct and share. We highly recommend this one.
Our waiter Anthony and his server assistant Glen were very accommodating and provided some of the best service we have experienced in Las Vegas. Chef Anastasia coming out to introduce herself was most impressive and demonstrated truly admirable character. Eating at Bacio was a perfect way to wrap up our last night on the Strip.