Giada De Laurentiis is a Californian. And me too. And maybe that’s why I’m so enamored with his Las Vegas restaurant, the eponymous Giada.
Giada-the-restaurant embodies that California vibe, from the entrance at the top of an escalator to the cozy bar and the stylish yet comfortable seating that fills the dining room. The dining room itself is a curved area with windows overlooking the Strip; it’s filled with wood, white walls, and ceiling fans, reminding you of the outdoor rooms of so many California homes.
The Italian cuisine here reflects De Laurentiis’ upbringing in Italy and California, a style she brings to life on her Food Network show, Giada at Home.
Dinner at Giada should start with a cocktail, and the signature “G” is one of the best. Macchu Pisco, pineapple juice and lime brighten up the drink, while apricot jams add color and freshness. Seafood towers here can feed up to three or five, depending on size, and include Maine lobster, French Kiss and kusshi oysters (both from Canada), king crab and shrimp cocktail. The meat and cheese boards also come in two sizes, with prosciutto di Parma, finocchiona, soppressata, pecorino Toscano, Gorgonzola and buffalo mozzarella among the offerings. There are plenty of antipasto choices, from bacon-wrapped dates with spicy Italian sausage and meatballs from orzo to lobster arancini and a selection of pickled olives.
Appetizers include small tenderloins with cheesy butternut squash mash, cacciatore-style Italian fried chicken, branzino, and a 28-ounce Tuscan rib eye, especially eye-catching with a fried egg on top.
For some of us, pasta is the only thing we want in an Italian restaurant, no matter how many other delicacies are presented there. At Giada, it comes in all forms. Try cacio e pepe for a classic bite with pecorino Toscano and black pepper; bucatini with Calabrian pepper for a spicier touch; lobster ravioli; rigatoni with vegetable bolognese; and Giada’s signature lemon spaghetti, with prawns and mascarpone. You can also add chicken, shrimp or a Maine lobster tail to your dish if you like, or indulge in a crab and scallop risotto.
Come for brunch and you’ll find a Giada classic, the Sunrise polenta waffle, with pancetta, béchamel sauce and sunny-side-up eggs; a Benedictine of salmon with piquillo peppers and prosecco Hollandaise sauce; cavatelli and spaghetti; lobster mince; and my all-time favorite sandwich (no hyperbole here), the grilled cheese with lemon pesto and heirloom tomatoes. It’s so simple, but the flavor is second to none. The pastry basket gets high marks here too; it’s hard not to gobble it all up and leave room for that delicious sandwich. A glass of prosecco or sangria will make the morning even more enjoyable.
Desserts vary, but Giada’s famous lemon and ricotta cookies are really all that, and the tiramisu, sorbetti and ice cream are excellent too.
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