Little Deli Becomes a Big Deal

Siena’s new effort in Summerlin features a full-blown restaurant loaded with Italian treats and some great values

Photo by Bryan HainerSiena mix platter: grilled meats.

Photo by Bryan HainerSiena mix platter: grilled fish.

I used to shop for olive oil and double concentrated tomato paste from Italy at the old Siena Deli on Tropicana Avenue. Sometimes I’d eat one or two dishes from the steam table, such as lasagna or the odd pasta.

Now Siena has relocated to Summerlin, to a showcase restaurant and deli with an open bar. It’s a quantum leap for owner Antonio Accornero and his partner, chef Giancarlo Bomparola. And so far, judging by a huge Sunday night crowd, it seems to be paying off.

“We aren’t trying to be a gourmet restaurant,” Accornero says. “We are trying to be a neighborhood place where people can come to enjoy our food.” Well, it’s a little grander than all that, but the price is right. Most pasta dishes and entrées are less than $15. And portions are huge.

Before eating, peruse the deli section, which opens at 8 a.m. for coffee and pastries, plus a few dishes such as frittata. Italians don’t consume much more than espresso and biscotti in the morning, but this isn’t Italy. The aisles are stocked with gaudily wrapped panettone, and the deli cases with imported Italian meats and cheese.

On one visit here, I tried Buongustaio, a wooden platter laden with the meats and cheeses, plus peppers, olives and garnishes. The prosciutto and salami were especially good, and so were the hot breads, crunchy focaccia and puffy Italian rolls, accompanied by an olive tapenade.

Pizzas are made with Caputo flour from Italy, and they are quite good—gooey in the middle, as real Italian pizzas tend to be. Timpano in the deli case is not on the menu, but Siena will sell you a wedge for $14.95.

The pasta drum—a dish immortalized in the film The Big Night—is composed of meatballs, cured meats, pasta and hard-cooked egg in pastry, and it’s one of the most unusual Italian dishes in the city. (On Dec. 7 the restaurant will re-create the entire menu from that movie, in memory of the 100th anniversary of the birth of entertainer Louis Prima.)

Among the pasta I tried, cavatelli con salsiccia (cavatelli look like tiny canoes) was the standout, even if there was too much sausage in the sauce. The linguine alla vongole (linguine clams) is also a showoff, tossed with garlic, chili flakes, parsley and white wine.

The two entrées I tried were, at $23 and $26, respectively, by far the two most expensive items on the menu. The good news is they will easily feed two.

The first, a mixed grill of meats, has pork ribs, chicken and steak, plus Bomparola’s homemade Italian sausage. The second, a mixed fish platter, has two types of grilled fish, shrimps in the shell, calamari and scallops, plus broccolini and asparagus. Something like this on the Strip would at least be double the price.

The deli cases are also overflowing with cookies, pastries and gelati, so be warned. The bread pudding, served hot, is fairly irresistible. The wine list, by the way, is heavy on Italy and well-priced. I had a terrific Nero d’Avola from Sicily, for $50.

Like Accornero says, this isn’t gourmet food. Siena will never be a threat to Valentino or B&B, but nobody cares around here. And none of them, I can promise you, leaves here hungry.

Siena Trattoria, 9500 W. Sahara Ave. 736-8424. Open at 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.Dinner for two, $35-$68.

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