By: Bob Gourley
Forbes Traveler has voted the Golden Nugget’s shark tank swimming pool as one of the top 10 in the world. Next to the space and within sight of the large aquarium is a restaurant that is noteworthy too, Grotto.
The expansive place has a traditional menu of Italian favorites and some great specials during Happy Hour. More on that later.
The appetizer menu includes homemade meatballs drenched in marinara sauce. Fried calamari is delicious along with an increasingly-popular artichoke and spinach dip constructed with fresh greens and artichokes, creamy béchamel sauce, grated parmesan and garlic crostini. Salads are highlighted with a spinach and bacon version with thinly-sliced sweet apples, crispy bacon, almonds, gorgonzola and balsamic vinaigrette.
Pasta selections run the gamut from Rigatoni Della Sansoni (pasta tossed with meat sauce and homemade meatballs) to Penne Diavolo with chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms and asparagus in a tangy sauce.
Pizzas are much like you would experience in a sidewalk café in Rome. The crust is wafer-thin and combined with toppings melts in your mouth.
The Margherita is a fine example with a simple pairing of Roma tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. Capricciosa is another worthy specimen with prosciutto, pine nuts, artichoke hearts, San Marzano tomatoes and fontina cheese. Their signature offering is Meatzza, a collection of pepperoni, homemade meatballs, Italian sausage and pancetta.
Half a dozen salads greet the taste buds nicely - including an Italian chopped version with grilled chicken, prosciutto, provolone, gorgonzola, bacon and egg accompanied with crisp iceberg lettuce. Tomato Caprese sliced tomatoes are combined with fresh mozzarella.
If you are looking for a stylish soup, choose Lobster Bisque with just the right touch of cream and a hint of sherry.
As you enter, you should take a look at the open kitchen where you will find an oven with rotisserie chicken slowly churning. An entrée portion is a half a bird that is served with Italian roasted potatoes and sautéed spinach.
Crispy Salmon is enhanced with seasonal vegetables and lemon caper butter sauce. Chicken is well represented with Pollo Romano (chicken scaloppini with artichokes and Roma tomatoes in a white wine sauce delivered with penne sugo rosa).
Steak lovers will want to chow down on Filet Alla Griglia featuring a center-cut 8-ounce filet mignon served with asparagus and Italian roasted potatoes and then topped with Barolo demi-glace.
The dessert cart has a large presence in the main dining room with appealing options like tiramisu and huge pieces of succulent chocolate cake.
Happy Hour is one of the times you will want to visit. In session weekdays from 2 to 6 pm. Late nights Sunday through Thursday, you will find a slate of pizzas for just $8.00 and these are 14-inch beauties that are perfect for sharing.
Not only can you get a great pizza, but there are other munchies like stuffed mushrooms, pork Milanese sliders and bruschetta to pass to your friends. Drinks are discounted too, including their famous peach Bellini for just $4.00. Other specialty cocktails are $6.00 and wine is just $6.00 a glass.
This is definitely a place to people watch and enjoy good food. All in all, it is a must visit when you are downtown.