There must be many restaurants like this in today’s Las Vegas, fancy joints built with big budgets now serving more affordably priced grub. When North Las Vegas’ Aliante Station opened in late 2008, its Italian spot was Pip’s Cucina, owned by longtime local food and wine pro Rino Armeni. The upscale eats weren’t the right fit, so Station Casinos took over. Now it’s called Il Vino and serves a familiar menu of Italian favorites.
- Il Vino
- Aliante Station, 692-7477.
- Sunday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.
It looks the same, and that’s a good thing. A charming bar is visible through a wall of windows, and you can still sample baby glasses of wine in various volumes thanks to the Enomatic machine. The menu may be more family-friendly, but the dining room is still dark and stylish, offering a peek into the kitchen through purple glass and a jazzy soundtrack. The environment and decor at Il Vino would not be out of place at a mid-level Strip resort.
Of course, nice digs don’t mean much if dinner doesn’t taste good. Il Vino’s menu is straightforward, the portions are gigantic and the prices are low, so it’d be easy to assume you’re in for some Olive Garden-ish food. Think again. A simple dish such as chicken, broccoli and rotini in parmesan cream sauce is rich and delicious. Caprese salad comes layered with great slabs of fresh mozzarella and tomato with huge fresh basil leaves, and one of the signature crispy pizzas comes topped with artichoke hearts and spinach. There are few surprises (although the banana peppers in the fried calamari are delightful), but maybe Il Vino is just what the neighborhood ordered.