Tell us about your first impressions when you arrived.
Anyone who was accustomed to the mid-modish Due Forni pizza place that preceded La Strega will be totally charmed by its transformation into a sunny, feminine dining room filled with silvery greens, custom light fixtures, a copper- and marble-clad kitchen, and a cocktail bar with a custom glass facade from Sicis, an Italian glass company. There are also Chinoiserie-inspired murals of the Italian countryside. La Strega is Italian for "witch," and outside the dining room in a warmly lit loggia, there's a "witch's garden" designed by the chef and partner, Gina Marinelli, to cultivate herbs and produce; the space is also great for al fresco dining.
What was the crowd like?
La Strega is in one of Las Vegas's more affluent neighborhoods (Summerlin, west of the Strip), and its residents love going out to dinner at the growing number of good restaurants. Money isn't really an object for a lot of the diners—they're coming here for the convenience of dining out but not having to go far for a lovely experience.
What should we be drinking?
Compiled by Marinelli and somelier Stephanie Torres, the drinks menu features spritzes and house cocktails like The Daphni—named for the Greek goddess who transformed into a bay leaf—made with whiskey, lemon, bay leaf, and egg white froth. Wines by the glass are smart and accessible, and span Patagonia, Tuscany, and Napa.
Main event: the food. Give us the lowdown—especially what not to miss.
The menu here is divided into categories: greens, farm, ocean, and butcher (plus pizza, pasta, and mains). And although you can sense a hint of Marinelli's big-time mentors like Scott Conant, the most dominant influence is her heritage and her travels around Italy, working in local kitchens and with Italian fishermen. Look for lots of pestos that break the mold (like the bucatini Genovese, with a dandelion-greens pesto) and a pesto and truffle pizza with fontina and wild mushrooms. Heading into winter, you'll want to dive head first into the stracci—or "rag"-shaped pasta often found in Tuscany—with braised beef cheeks. And as much as we love dinner here, the brunch is also a knockout. Eggs baked in a spicy Calabrian pomodoro, like an Italian shakshuka, are stunning, as is a semolina waffle with organic berries and mascarpone butter.
And how did the front-of-house folks treat you?
Much like other neighborhood restaurants opened by former Strip chefs and restaurateurs, La Strega feels exuberant, as if it's finally allowed to run with its own personality and creativity. Still, this is a tightly run room, and the staff is happy, friendly, and competent.
What’s the real-real on why we’re coming here?
This is ingredient-driven travel through Italy courtesy of a seasoned guide, with cocktails and wine that round out the lovely experience. It's perfect for couples or small groups.