Notte-worthy Italian

Allegro chef Enzo Febbraro breathes new life into Wynn’s busiest intersection

Wynn Resorts is changing a few things in its galaxy of restaurants. Switch is now closed and will open as a different concept later this year. Botero is pushing its supper-club concept to the nightlife crowd. And Stratta has become Allegro, still the hotel’s province of casual Italian dining, but with a new chef and totally new menu.

Max’s Menu Picks

Pizza bianca, $16.
Baked lasagna Napoletana, $28.
Osso buco d’agnello, $49.
Zuppa di pesce, $38.

Apparently, the management was content to retain the look. After all, the space has already been redesigned once, from when it originally opened as Corsa Cucina. The hotel’s chief designer, Roger Thomas, turned the original yellows into reds, giving the room an organic, urban feel with natural materials such as sisal and leather to bring it all together.

Today, the room fairly glows a Tuscan red, crowned by faux wooden strands of pasta ceiling ornaments and modern lighting. Sleek chairs fashioned from red leather and the chic bar area that opens to the casino floor contribute to the easygoing feel, and the kitchen is open as well, punctuated by the glow of a wood-burning pizza oven.

But the most important new ingredient is chef Enzo Febbraro, an import from Washington, D.C., where he ran D’Acqua, a 300-plus-seat seafood restaurant. Febbraro is from Naples, home to the best pizza in Italy, and his pizzas do not disappoint. His bianca is a cracker-thin crust topped with shaved Parmesan cheese, a flurry of fresh arugula and a blanket of thinly sliced prosciutto. And the margherita may be the single best pizza on the Strip, again razor thin, served bubbling on brown parchment.

But then there are dozens of standouts here. Of vegetarian interest is the panzanella, Tuscan soaked bread and vegetable salad. The only misstep I encountered was a minestrone soup, which the chef embellishes with a dollop of homemade pesto, chock-full of beans, greens and short pasta. For some odd reason, the soup was unreasonably oily.

Pastas can be uncommonly rich, such as the multilayered lasagna using the chef’s Sunday meat ragu, tiny meatballs scattered between the layers and plenty of smoked mozzarella. Purists can opt for a traditional linguini and clams, done with a pile of roasted Manila clams and a garlic white-wine sauce.

Even cannelloni get a royal treatment, with a stuffing of veal, beef and pork, all served en casserole, napped by one of the more swooning Mornay sauces in the Western world. All pastas on Allegro’s menu, it should be mentioned, are made in-house.

Main courses are sumptuous, but some are adorned with hefty price tags. The chef’s signature dish, osso buco d’agnello, is a mammoth lamb shank on pappardelle, wide, flat noodles sauced with vegetable stew. Yes, it’s wonderful, but at $49, is this casual dining? Maybe, if one is casually flush.

Don’t miss Scottish salmon paired with a large raviolone stuffed with finely minced artichoke, or zuppa di pesce, a huge crock of scallops, shrimp, cod, squid, clams and mussels in a tomato garlic nage. As befits the name, service at Allegro (Italian for “cheerful, lively”) is swift, and the wine list is loaded with nice boutique Italian choices, such as Livio Felluga pinot grigio and limited-production American gems (try the 2008 Daou Celestus from Paso Robles, Calif.).

As with all Wynn restaurants, there are also vegan options. One, a silky tomato bisque, was sleek and satisfying, drizzled with cashew cream for added richness. Someday I may muster up the courage to try Gardein “chick’n” parmigiana. Instead, I opted for the real deal, the Vegas classic of chicken Francaise, an egg-battered breast slathered with a lemon-caper butter sauce. This dish falls flat almost everywhere else. Allegro’s version is tender, delicious and perfectly cooked, a wonderful surprise, if not exactly vegan.

Come in after 1 a.m. for yet another wonderful surprise, the late-night menu, which offers bacon and eggs, with ciabatta, of course, standing in for the white toast.

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