La Strega—Gina Marinelli’s new Italian restaurant in the former Due Forni space in south Summerlin—reflects an interesting convergence of trends. The first, ongoing since the Great Recession, is the migration of Strip talent away from the tourist corridor; in this instance, a former Cosmopolitan chef has resurfaced in the friendly confines of a suburban strip mall. The other is more recent: an Italian renaissance that began with James Trees’ Esther’s Kitchen Downtown and looks to continue with Nicole Brisson’s upcoming Locale in Mountain’s Edge.
La Strega brings a strong pesto game to the scene, beginning with the Italian ($13), a colorful mix of greens interspersed with dense mozzarella and salami cubes and tossed in a sharp pesto vinaigrette hinting of heat. It continues with the pesto and truffle pizza ($15), a funky, umami-laden pie with a light crust topped with mounds of arugula and ample nutty pecorino; and the bucatini Genovese ($16), cylindrical pasta with dandelion greens pesto, showcasing Marinelli’s ability to make eating weeds enjoyable.
The influence of Marinelli’s time at Scott Conant’s D.O.C.G. on the Cosmo’s third floor is apparent in her spaghetti pomodoro ($15), a nod to the celebrity chef’s magnum opus. Like Conant’s rendition, her spaghetti is straightforward: al dente noodles lightly coated in a simple tomato sauce bordering on buttery. Other pasta dishes are bit more complex, including the stracci ($18)—ragged, wide-bodied pasta with braised beef cheeks—and the rigatoni Bolognese ($19), accented with wild boar and spicy ’nduja, a spreadable pork. Swine is also the highlight of the Spicy Pig ($17) pizza, which melds meaty soppressata salami with smoked mozzarella and Calabrian chiles for the right amount of kick.
La Strega’s name may be Italian for “witch,” but there’s nothing frightening about Marinelli’s take on classic Italian fare at one of the Valley’s best new spots.
La Strega 3555 S. Town Center Drive #105, 702-722-2099. Tuesday-Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 4-10 p.m.