Simply put, Pastavino is Strip-quality food for off-the-strip prices. Although my experience may be different than most because we opted for the five course, $50 chef’s menu, a wonderful omakase-style dinner with inventive and unique Italian-inspired dishes.

It’s not often in Vegas that the chef who’s name is on the door actually cooks your food. But, Chef Marc Sgrizzi went above and beyond for our group of eleven by preparing six dishes and coming out to our table as each was presented to describe each in depth. Not only talking about the preparation and ingredients, but it’s history or inspiration.

To start the meal Chef Marc rolled out an 85 pound wheel of Grana Padano parmesan, aged 2 years, and demonstrated the technique and skill to cut it open. While laboring to open it up he educated us about how it’s made, the aging process, and its characteristics. After finally getting it open he graciously gave us samples to taste. Each piece was wonderfully aromatic with a slightly nutty taste.

The dishes that followed were all amazing. To start was a bowl of mussels faro. Tossed with faro, cannelini beans, carrots, celery, onion, sherry wine, and butter this was a hearty dish full of flavor.

At the same time, a second appetizer dish was served. If we didn’t know better, we would have thought it was a beef dish, but Chef Marc transformed tuna into an ahi bolognese cooked in imported tomatoes, basil, red pepper flakes and served with crudite (lettuce, carrots, celery). As the chef explained, it was influenced by a Thai dish. The result was an inventive savory dish that both fooled and pleased us all.

The ensuing pasta dish was my favorite of the night. The “papardelle ebony & ivory” was a decadent display of ingredients — squid ink pasta along with traditional pasta, wild exotic mushrooms, and truffle butter topped with crudo ahi meatballs and finished table side with uni zabaglione.

Next up was a pan seared red snapper on a bed of lentils and barley, with a saffron cream sauce. It may not have been as creative as the other dishes, but the flavor and execution was equally fantastic.

What made this dinner so remarkable was the portion size of each dish. Despite it being a tasting menu, Chef Marc generously served each dish as it would typically appear if ordered a la carte. With four dishes under our belts we were already more than satisfied, but up next was yet another amazing savory dish. The filet mignon el chico is his father’s recipe that he perfected. It’s a seared filet with garlic hot & sweet peppers, wild mushrooms, deglazed white wine, German red cabbage, and polenta with goat cheese. It had a good amount of heat/spiciness to it without overwhelming that wonderful beef flavor.

To end the meal a dessert platter was sent out with cannolis with fresh berries, tiramisu, and lemon ricotta pound cake. All were fabulous renditions of classic desserts with the tiramisu being the one I craved the most when it was all gone.

It was truly an outstanding meal at two-thirds the price of what is available on the Strip. Chef Marc proved that he can cook with the best and be as creative as his clientele will allow. This local gem with its modest size and deli-like interior may not seem like much, but the experience we had will have us coming back for more.

5 Stars

— Updated below: April 27, 2012 —

I came here again for another gathering of Yelpers. Again, we did the five course chef’s tasting and had another wonderful meal. Chef Marc brought out another Grana Padano cheese wheel and displayed the technique to open it up and graciously shaved off samples for all to try. Prior to our meal he mentioned that he”ll be opening a second location in Summerlin where Nora”s Wine Bar used to be.

Now, on to the food…

Course 1: Tempura-style, deep fried basil, squash blossom, and sage with marinara. The house-made marinara had plenty of depth in flavor and it was interesting to try the fried items, particularly the basil and sage. Somehow, the flavor of both was much more mild than expected.

Course 2: Pea tendril and filet mignon salad. It was a delicious salad with tender strips of beef. The pea tendrils were somewhat bitter and rather difficult to cut.

Course 3: Venice-style squid ink risotto with jumbo scallop, sea urchin and organic egg yolk emulsion. This was my favorite dish of the night and I’m not even a fan of uni. But, with all of the elements mixed together, it was a rich blend of savory and salty that left me craving more.

Course 4A: Pork tenderloin medallions with cauliflower infused mashed potatoes. The pork was incredibly tender and sat on a delicious bed of those cauliflower mashed potatoes. Everything was seasoned perfectly.

Course 4B: Crispy skin branzino with oven roasted potatoes and lava beans. The person I sat next to also ordered this fish dish, which was as flakey as you would hope. The skin was crispy and the mix of ingredients with the beans and potatoes was spot on.

Course 5: Poached pear in red wine sauce a la mode. This was my least favorite dish. The pear was undercooked which made it difficult to cut. However, I did appreciate the contrast in temperatures with the warm pear and wine sauce versus the cold ice cream.

Overall, another wonderful meal at a great price ($50 before tax and tip). But, the previous meal was so wonderful with every dish exceeding expectations, that it will be tough to eat here and surpass that experience.

4.5 Stars

7591 W Washington Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89128
(702) 233-6272

Chef Marc Parma on Urbanspoon