When Encore opened at the very end of 2008—a lively complement to the now 10-year-old Wynn—it added five exciting restaurants to the fold. Theo Schoenegger, whose career included establishing New York’s San Domenico and winning a Michelin star at LA’s Patina, was arguably the most celebrated chef to debut a restaurant at the new resort.
Six years later, the other Encore eateries have seen significant change. But not Schoenegger’s Sinatra. It has maintained some of the Strip’s best and most seasonally inspired Italian cuisine in another one of Wynn’s flawless, gorgeous dining rooms. The range and quality of Vegas Italian food—B&B to Bartolotta, Rao’s to Giada—is so much more respectable these days, but for overall experience, it’s hard to put anything above Sinatra. (It helps that we still get a kick out of looking at Ol’ Blue Eyes’ Oscar, Grammy and Emmy awards on the way in.)
The best seats in this warm, amber room are along immense windows peering into a secret garden ... unless you’re eating in the garden itself. After you indulge in a lovely bread basket served with salted butter and a memorable, olive-topped Cannellini bean purée, the go-to starter is a bigeye tuna carpaccio ($19) with pickled vegetables in lemon vinaigrette. The menu touts this dish as one of its new, lower-calorie options (140 to be exact), but who cares when flavors pop like this?
The pastas seem simple and neat but also turn out to be flavor bombs, particularly a classic lasagna Bolognese ($29) with pork, veal and beef; and Frank’s “spaghetti and clams” ($29), purportedly the Chairman’s fave, which would come as no surprise due to its perfect garlic-tomato broth.
Save room for Sinatra’s side dishes, such as the savory ratatouille-esque capponatina ($10) or crispy polenta sticks dusted with Parmigiano Reggiano over marinara ($10). If beef, lamb or braised veal ossobuco feel too heavy, consider a beautiful quartet of seafood specialties. My pick is lobster, shrimp, clam and scallop cioppino ($60) with fluffy couscous and another breathtaking broth of tomato and fennel. There’s also seared scallops with vegetables and gnocchi in Madeira sauce ($46) or butter-poached lobster-topped risotto ($45), but the obvious favorite is branzino over brightly colored salsa verde and yellow pepper emulsion ($49). The chef’s delicate touch shines with these oceanic treasures.
If this all sounds too precious, rest assured Sinatra does great versions of veal or chicken parm, complete with plenty of melted mozzarella and a tangy pomodoro sauce. Pair yours with an order of meatballs ($18) or some primo antipasto ($22) for a different kind of Italian dinner. The food at Wynn resorts will always be fancy, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Really, who does it better?
Sinatra Encore, 877-321-9966. Daily, 5:30-10:30 p.m.