Zeffirino At The Venetian
One of the great things about Las Vegas is that it never ceases to surprise you. This past Sunday, Jamie and I were looking for a new spot for brunch when we happened upon Zeffirino at The Venetian.
Wanting to marvel at the canal and gondoliers, we decided to head to the Palazzo / Venetian and simply find a restaurant among the shops. At the faux open air area they call "St. Mark's Square," we checked out the menus of places like Wolfgang Puck's Postrio and OTTO Enoteca Pizzeria, but I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted something more; a lavish display, an endless buffet, some character.
We continued walking until we came upon a wooden, sort of old school looking place. The "Special Of The Day" board caught my eye, too, the price in particular, and I noticed another board listed a "Grand Canal" prix fixe menu with three courses for $22.95. It had seating along the corridor, beneath the painted blue sky, too... or so I thought.
Deciding to give it a try, I followed Jamie as he walked around the fenced area towards the hostess station when I realized that the fenced area was another restaurant entirely. The plates looked fine as well, but the prix fixe menu had really gotten my attention. A bit bummed that we were just going to dine in a typical restaurant setting, we nevertheless told a hostess back at the front of the wooden structure that we wanted a table for two.
Walking inside, we were instantly taken aback. The tiny facade at the front gave way to an enormous room with huge columns, chandeliers, and even a white grand piano. The booths and tables along the wall looked like bar seating, but I figured the hostess would sit us at one or lead us to a dining room in the back. She did lead us to the back of the restaurant, but from there, she said the stairs were on the right and the elevator was on the left.
We chose the stairs, but she remained behind. Marveling at just how different it was from our expectations, at the top of the third flight, we happened upon another hostess station. Here, the lady behind the desk asked us how many we had then told us to wait in the room next door. It was ornately decorated with regal chairs and plush couches, and by this point, we thought we'd somehow gone on some magical adventure. Expecting a high end Olive Garden, we'd instead found Narnia's closet.
I couldn't believe how elaborate the restaurant was, especially considering the price, and I was smiling ear to ear when another lady came to take us from the "room next door." She lead us back through yet another room to seat us at a table overlooking the canal. What?! Overlooking the canal : I simply couldn't believe it. I was beyond stunned. The restaurant with the fence was full of people, yet this much better option only had a few patrons. The small, fifteen or so foot wide entrance hid an incredible space. We had reluctantly entered, somehow thinking that we'd settled, but this was amazing!
A waiter soon took our drink order, and we were provided with warm, toasted bread and water in glasses which caught the blue from the faux sky just outside the window. It was so unexpected, which, of course, made it all the more wonderful.
For my meal, I chose the sauteed spaghetti with bacon, egg yolk, and a touch of cream for my entree, so I went pedestrian and selected chicken tenders with spicy tomato sauce for my appetizer, for a bit of meat.
The chicken tenders were fairly standard issue, which was mostly expected. I had hoped they might be a little more like pan seared chicken breast, but they were closer to something you'd get at the grocery story pre-made. The spicy tomato sauce, however, gave them a slightly more exotic taste. I was on a high from the experience, so it was all secondary anyway.
The spaghetti was presented, like all the plates I noted, with the Z for Zeffirino at the top. It was a small detail, but it made it all the more obvious that this wasn't just a chain restaurant meal.
The spaghetti itself was tasty but a bit al dente for my American sensibilities. In this, too, I expected more of a pan seared sort of taste, but the "touch of cream" seemed closer to an Alfredo sauce. It was heavy but worthwhile nonetheless.
And for the included dessert, I was truly surprised once again. The waiter brought a trio of small items for Jamie and a different trio for me. A diet preventing Jamie from partaking, I sampled them all and was amazed that they all tasted as good as they looked. Desserts so often look good or taste great but rarely do they do both.
Paying the check, we walked back out through the corridors and stairs and thought just how great an experience it had been. Don't let the small entrance fool you, too. — Of course, looking afterwards, I saw the sign on the front of the restaurant reading, "Fine Dining... Overlooking The Grand Canal," and I saw, too, the banners reading "Zeffirino Ristorante" hanging beneath the second floor windows. (Yet with most of the "windows" just being facades along the canal, I didn't even notice that they real before we went in.)
In The Venetian
On The Las Vegas Strip
Lunch 11:30AM - 4PM
Dinner 4PM - Midnight