By George Christopher Thomas, Travel Writer
LAS VEGAS, NV – The City of Las Vegas is the capital of entertainment in the western United States. One could even say Las Vegas is the most entertaining place in all of America. So when we piled in the car and drove out from Los Angeles, we were going to eat like kings. There are different types of kingdoms, and my two boys were seeking to frolic in an Italian one for dining purposes. Our family tradition is to eat pizza on Friday nights, every week, without fail, come hell or high water. So our time in Las Vegas was going to be no different, and we were off to Luchini Italian Restaurant inside the MGM Grand.
Las Vegas has numerous food options, from the vending machine at the end of the hotel hallway, to high end fancy restaurants where if you are not in a suit and tie, you feel under-dressed. Luchini Italian Restaurant has an upscale feel and exudes class, but if you don’t know which fork to use first, you will not seem out of place.
We were staying a couple of casinos away, and took the tram to the MGM Grand. My two sons and I had some administrative work to do at the box office as we were switching the time on our tickets for a show after dinner. As my kids slowly walked through the casino, they asked if they could play one of the games. I told them I could charge them to play their video games at home, and every time they lost they would owe me a quarter. That was not received well, but I wanted to explain gambling to them. Plus, they are not of age, it would be weird to walk through the casino and see a 6-year-old pulling the handle of a slot machine.
The restaurant opened at 5pm, and there was already a line waiting to get seated in the newest swank restaurant in Las Vegas. You could tell it was fancy, because some of the dishes on the menu were well over $100. People were there for their birthday, some couple just got engaged, it was the place to be.
We started out with the appetizers, and grandma’s meatballs with a sweet marinara sauce. The calamari we ordered was peppered and deep fried, with shrimp and other delectable items like onion strings placed around the plate. Now calamari is tricky, and it can be chewy if cooked for a few seconds too long. The chef must have gotten her college degree in culinary arts, because this calamari was perfect, and the next generation agreed. Grandma’s meatballs were heavenly, with the perfect combination of herbs and spices. If I had an Italian grandmother, it would be something that she would have served on a Sunday evening while the whole family loved and praised her. These meatballs were glorious.
For the main dish we ordered medium rare lamb chops. I always feel that is the best degree and cooking level to order meat, whatever kind it happens to be. I get steaks medium rare, cheeseburgers medium rare, so I was not going to venture off and ask for my lamb chops to be well done. The lamb chops were more like lamp lollipops, best enjoyed with some mint jelly. This is by far one of the best items on the menu, and the little charred bits at the end were stupendous and scrumptious.
The other dish I highly recommend is the rib meat lasagna in the shape of a pinwheel. Usually lasagna is made with ground beef or minced meat, which is fine. However, if you happen to slow cook some baby back ribs, then use that meat in the lasagna, you are either king of a small nation somewhere or eating at Luchini Italian Restaurant. The rib meat itself probably fell off the bone, and then was put into pinwheel shaped lasagna slices. According to my 8 year old son, this rib meat pinwheel lasagna was the best thing he had ever tasted, and said he would come back to this restaurant at least 100 times more.
My other son is a picky eater, and could find something wrong with anything served to him at a restaurant. So the chef and our server made him a specialty pizza with only his favorite ingredients on it. It passed the royal test and microscope inspection, although there was something green that may or may not have been near the food in question. We resolved that by immediately capturing the green thing, and wrapping it up in a napkin. I think it was a sliver of oregano, and it never saw the light of day again. The pizza was then consumed without any complaints. Something unheard of before on previous vacations, and a testament to the quality of food at Luchini Italian Restaurant.
I ordered oysters for the table, but both sons had no interest in taking shooters of raw oysters. So I had to cowboy up and eat all of them. They tasted like kissing the ocean, with a squeeze of lemon juice and a nice bit of hot sauce. I guess the kids just haven’t developed the palette for the finer things in life, and subsequently there were more for me to enjoy.
I wish we had room for dessert, but we were taking loads of food with us in a doggie bag as it was. Pizza, lamb chops, and lasagna with rib meat combined with ambiance and we were in Las Vegas to boot. The next time we are in town, this locale is going to be on the itinerary, only this time we are going to order completely different dishes. My guess is that everything on the menu is wonderful, and that explains part of the reason why the premises filled up while we were eating, and there was again a line outside the restaurant as we left for the show. (For more information on Luchini Italian restaurant, please visit https://taogroup.com/venues/luchini-restaurant-las-vegas/)
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