To bring a true Italian menu to Las Vegas, Sirio Ristorante brought authentic recipes from Tuscany and then took a little detour through New York to blend in some Italian-American dishes to give you a sense of how Italian food is meant to be savored.
Sirio Ristorante, located at ARIA Resort & Casino in CityCenter, is the latest restaurant from Sirio Maccioni. Born in Italy, Mr. Maccioni brought his Italian flavors to New York and then to Las Vegas at the Bellagio, each time with the highest of acclaims, including receiving the James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant of the Year in 1995. Mr. Maccioni does everything possible to give his guests an authentic Italian dinner, from the recipes, to the fresh hand-made pasta and last but not least, the number of ingredients imported directly from Italy.
The Tuscan sea bream while not on the menu everyday is one dish that you should definitely search out when you are considering a visit to Sirio. The unusual preparation does something magical to the sea bream, the entire fish is placed in a pan, then it is covered with sea salt, I should actually say buried in sea salt. The sea bream is then baked and the sea salt becomes a hard shell over the fish. When it is brought to the table your server then chisels off the salt casing and then filets the fish to perfection. You might think that the sea salt will overpower the fish, but there is just a slight salty taste to it. Preparing the fish in this fashion leaves the sea bream very delicate and flaky and I loved that it had a very limited fish taste to it when comparing it to other fish. The serving is the actual entire fish, so you receive a very large portion, but I could not bring myself to put down the fork while eating this exquisite dish.
Fish might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you decide to visit an Italian restaurant, it likely could be a rich pasta to go along with a glorious glass of wine and Sirio does not disappoint. Any pasta dish you order at Sirio will leave you wanting more as you will be struck by the freshness and tenderness of the pasta, you can taste the love and care that when into preparing it. The Cappellacci is a four-cheese stuffed pasta in tomato sauce would be my first choice. The sauce is very rich and pairs perfectly with the fresh pasta and the high flavorful cheeses really make this dish. To go along with your pasta, Sirio has an extensive wine collection with wine from a number of regions, including some beautiful wine from Tuscany. Your eyes will do a double take when you look at the wine menu as the majority of the wines are a great value.
Two dishes that will make for a wonderful pairing with your favorite Italian wine at Sirio would be the Colorado rack of lamb and the braised veal shank. The lamb is incredibly rich and flavorful, but what sets it apart is the pistachio crust that provides a flavorful and appetizing contrast to the lamb. The veal shank is slow-braised for three hours in stock and Chardonnay to let it absorb all of that flavor while leaving it tender enough to melt in your mouth. Finally don’t be fooled by the listing on the appetizer portion of the menu, the Frittura A Mista is a meal all by itself. This is really a seafood lover’s plate as you receive deep-fried calamari, bay scallops along with shrimp and a flavorful spicy tomato sauce. This is a great dish to share or to enjoy by yourself.
To begin your evening one of the desirable aspects of Sirio is that the appetizer menu has so many directions that you can go in. If you are looking for a comfort Italian food feel, I would suggest that you create a sampling of meats and cheeses. Sirio offers a great assortment of both, the one that you must try is the Cacio Di Bosco Al Tartufo. This Tuscan cheese is from sheep milk, which has a very subtle flavor to it, but this is perfect to let you take in all of the flavor of the white-truffle that is blended into the cheese. So tasty, you will find yourself searching out this cheese once you leave Las Vegas. Sirio also offers vegetable and seafood appetizers along with salads and soups. If you happen to be in Sirio when they are serving the tomato fenel I would suggest that you give this soup a try. Don’t be fooled by the tomato in the name, this is unlike any other tomato soup you will have ever tried. This rich and creamy soup is littered with crispy brushetto bacon to provide a perfect texture in every bite, but what really gets you is the heat of this soup. Sirio has taken this flavorful soup and added a small amount of chili flakes to the soup to provide just enough spice to really awaken those taste buds.
Sirio has recently introduced a Caffe menu that is a stripped down version of the main menu, but it allows you to capture some of this authentic Italian food at more affordable prices. This is a great opportunity to taste some of the homemade pasta dishes such as fettuccine alfredo, linguine with clams, ravioli or lasagna. If you are looking for a quick bit to share before you check out a show or hit the strip, the Caffe menu has some very interesting pizza combinations including ham and asparagus, smoked salmon and the classic margherita on the ultra thin crust that lets you take in all the flavors of the pizza.
To fit with the Caffe menu Sirio has a more casual setting at the front of the restaurant. With an open air setting to let you take in the sights and sounds of ARIA, you can either grab a table or pull up a stool and sit at the gorgeous bar. To give you the best of both worlds, the more formal dining section lets you get dolled up for the big night while you get first class treatment all night from the flawless staff at Sirio. The predominant burnt red color gives Sirio a vibrant and upscale feel. The inverted dome at the center of the restaurant provides a beautiful focal point while the other area that will catch your eye will be the open pantry. The design of the pantry is fabulous, taking you back to long ago in Italy with the grocery-deli look as the backdrop while smaller dishes are being prepared in the open. The stunning design of Sirio comes from Adam Tihany, who has previously worked on restaurants with Mr. Maccioni as well as stamping his signature on a number of locations at CityCenter.
A little espresso, to get you ready for the late Las Vegas evening, paired with the classic Sicilian cannoli is the fitting way to end your culinary trip to Italy. You will be hard pressed to find a better cannoli, it is always fresh and it is filled with the ricotta cheese to go along with candied oranges and chocolate chips.
Finding an Italian restaurant that really gives you a true sense of the history and origin of the original flavors of Italy has become harder over the years as most Italian restaurants have turned generic to feed the masses. Thankfully Sirio Maccioni has created a restaurant that takes all of your senses back to Tuscany, giving you the authentic cuisine that an Italian meal is meant to give you.
For more information on Sirio Ristorante, visit: http://www.arialasvegas.com/dining/sirio-ristorante.aspx