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BATTISTA'S HOLE IN THE WALL

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Just Off The Strip

4041 Audrie St.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-732-1424

website

$20-$50

Daily 5-10:30pm

Italian

C+

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A longtime Vegas tradition, serving satisfying if unspectacular Italian food in a strangely festive environment.

Where is it?

Just off The Strip on Flamingo, near Bally's

What kind of food is served?

All of the usual traditional Italian dishes like spaghetti, lasagna, and the like.

What is the atmosphere like?

Your crazy Aunt Edna's house. You kinda have to see it to believe it.

How is the service?

Good, not great.

What are the prices like?

A little more expensive than it should be in my opinion.

What else do I need to know?

House wine is included in the price.

What's the bottom line?

There must be some reason that the place has been in business for more than 40 years.

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FULL REVIEW

Battista's Hole in the Wall has been around for more than 40 years so it definitely qualifies as an "Institution." Opened in 1970, the traditional Italian eatery has gained a reputation as one of those "Only-in-Vegas" experiences that many will insist you must do at least once while others shrug and move on to the buffets. I'm somewhere in the middle on the whole thing.

The place certainly is colorful. Located just off The Strip (across the street from Bally's at Audrie and Flamingo Rd.), the plain exterior belies the almost manic clutter that you'll find inside. Pictures of the famous, nearly famous, and "who-the-hell-is-that?" adorn almost every square inch of the wall space along with knick-knacks, stuffed animal heads, doo-dads, and a gigantic miniature liquor bottle collection. It's sort of like the inside of your crazy Aunt Edna's house - you know what I mean: that delightfully batty woman with twelve cats who wears tin foil on her head every night when she watches "Wheel of Fortune" to block out the lewd suggestions Pat Sajak keeps sending her through the TV.

Sufficed to say that fans of clean and simple will go nuts in this place. You have been warned.

Oh, and just in case the décor doesn't keep you awake, there's also a wandering accordion player who will happily launch into whatever tune you throw at him.

Several small dining rooms surround a central hall and each features the menu emblazoned on the walls. It's pretty simple really - fixed price meals range from the low $20s to the high $30s and include garlic bread, minestrone soup or salad, all-you-can-drink red and white wine, your entrée, a side of pasta if your entrée isn't pasta, and cappuccino after your meal.

Entrée choices range from the simple pastas like spaghetti and ziti on the low end of the price range up through things like chicken parmigiana and lasagna to the most expensive filet mignon and New York steak. Everything on the menu is traditional Americanized Italian fare and there if there's anything listed that isn't familiar to you you've never been to an Italian restaurant before.

And so how was the food? The word I keep coming back to is "fine". Not as in "fine dining" but as in "I'm fine, how are you?" We sampled the fettuccine Alfredo, the sausage cacciatore, and the uber-traditional spaghetti and meatballs and it was all, well... fine. Nothing spectacular, nothing leaping off the plate sending us into paroxysms of delight, just solid, stick-to-your ribs hearty Italian food. I've had better, I've had cheaper, but it was fine. So Battista's Hole in the Wall really comes down to the issue of dining as "experience". Everything on the Strip has gotten so corporate and sanitized that part of me delights in going to an oddball joint like this. Especially one that is just a few feet away from places with a maitre 'd that would sneer at a Hole in the Wall like Battista's. However, if food is your priority when choosing a restaurant (what a novel concept!) then there are Italian restaurants in Vegas that do it better. But none that your Aunt Edna would feel comfortable in.

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