Marc’s World Cuisine. Mezzo. Parma. Novecento. Chef and restaurateur Marc Sgrizzi has moved all over the western half of the Las Vegas Valley in the 15-plus years he’s been cooking food and doing business here. His local body of work has been marked with ambition, whether he’s mixing global influences into his steady Italian cuisine or serving stylish specialties in a neighborhood that clearly prefers by-the-numbers franchise dining.
His new restaurant is simply called Marc’s Trattoria. If you’ve followed his previous endeavors, it’ll only take one meal here for you to realize this is a chef honing in on what he does well. That’s not to say there’s an absence of that ambition, but clearly Sgrizzi has come to understand his strengths, along with what regular, returning diners expect from Chef Marc. And he delivers, again, as usual.
Marc’s Trattoria is a warmer, more welcoming version of the previous restaurant, Parma. The decor and ambiance are suitable for a special-occasion dinner but just as comfortable for a casual meal. There’s no lunch or deli takeout counter or retail, or really anything at all taking away from the potential of the greatest neighborhood Italian restaurant meal of your life. The menu is substantial, full of favorites and confidence; I love the section titled “Classics the neighborhood cannot do without.” There you’ll find Sgrizzi’s amazing, no-breadcrumbs eggplant parmesan ($16), Tuscan-style gnocchi Bolognese ($18) and the lovably spicy chicken riggies ($18) with pancetta, melted mozzarella and cherry peppers.
The icons of Italian-American restaurants are well-represented with chicken scarpariello, pasta alfredo, veal marsala, spaghetti and meatballs and many more. Sgrizzi’s greatest hits are here, too, like his filet el chico ($28), linguine clams ($19) and the appetizer of portabella and spinach baked in cream and cheese ($12). Then, mingling among the favorites, excitement: pork belly and bone marrow with creamy polenta and pickled fennel ($14); black linguine with calamari, hot peppers and artichoke aioli ($20); spaghetti tossed with mushrooms, crisp green beans, savory speck and chicken livers ($17). I dined at Marc’s the night before Valentine’s Day and lost my mind over a special the chef was planning to run the next night: squid ink papardelle with huge chunks of crab meat in a silky mushroom sauce. It was a dream of a dish.
Giada. Lago. Carbone. We’ve seen some pretty great (and glitzy) Italian restaurants open on the Strip recently. When people ask me which one is my favorite, or which one they need to try, it’s hard to answer because everyone has a very specific (and often personal) idea of what Italian food should be, and it often seems much closer to something found at a humble neighborhood restaurant than a big, flashy dining room in a casino. I say try them all. But go back, again, to the one that’s most special, most personal. You know what it is.
Marc's Trattoria 8615 W. Sahara Ave., 702-233-6272. Wednesday-Sunday, 4:30-10 p.m.