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Bellagio

3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-693-8865

website

$25-$50

Mon-Thu 11:30am-11pm

Fri-Sat 11:30am-12am

Sun 11:00am-11:00pm

American

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AT A GLANCE

What is it?

Chef Julian Serrano's modern take on the Italian cuccina.

Where is it?

At The Bellagio on the Center Strip.

What kind of food is served?

Contemporary Italian and Mediterranean specialties.

What is the atmosphere like?

Stunning, with huge windows looking at the Bellagio Fountains.

How is the service?

Friendly, fast, and efficient.

What are the prices like?

Not cheap but not outrageous either.

What else do I need to know?

Go for lunch - the food is just as good and its a bit cheaper (and easier to get a table).

What's the bottom line?

Really good food and some pretty great views.

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FULL REVIEW

Lots of chefs have higher profiles than Julian Serrano, but here in Vegas he is one of the kings of the epicurean hill. His Picasso at Bellagio and Julian Serrano at Aria are highly coveted among the foodie set so his latest, Lago, arrived with a great deal of fanfare and anticipation.

Foodies will not be disappointed because because Lago is a worthy successor to those two institutions but people who simply like good food should also be celebrating because it is also his most approachable restaurant in Vegas.

Let's start with the stunning dining room. Done with a retro-modern space age look, the room is mostly white with purple accents and pops of other color here and there, but it's what's outside the restaurant that is most noteworthy. Check out those floor to ceiling windows looking directly onto the Bellagio Fountains - it's going to be hard to find a better view of them anywhere else.

The menu is filled with Italian and Mediterranean influences. At lunch you get things like classic Minestrone soup, a host of salads including Caprese and one with baked ricotta, antipasto choices, pastas including veal-stuffed agnolotti and four cheese lasagna, small pizzas, and paninis on the lighter end of the scale all the way up to pistachio crusted salmon, beef tenderloin, veal Milanese, and more for the bigger dishes.

Dinner is more of the same, only with less of the lunch style paninis and more of the more substantial dishes plus additional main courses in the form of spring chicken with thyme and lemon, red wine-braised veal, a bone in ribeye, and a whole lobster among your choices.

We visited at lunch so we went for the paninis, which seemed to be the most interesting at that particular moment. The chicken parmesan comes on a ciabatta bread, the meatball comes with tomato and mozzarella on focaccia, and the pork loin is served with onions and fontina on piadina bread. All three were fantastic - expertly prepared, perfectly seasoned, flavorful, and not so big that we had to lug half of them out in doggie bags. Throw in some insanely delicious garlic bread and some Italian fries on the side and you have the makings of a really good meal here.

It's hard to extrapolate what the bigger, more complex dinner dishes are like from our experience with several sandwiches but Serrano has not garnered the kind of reputation he has in Vegas by serving bad food. I expect that everything that comes out of his kitchen is worth knowing about.

The service was luxury level - friendly but not overly so, efficient, and ready to handle whatever we threw at them.

Prices are reasonable at lunch. Pretty much everything was under $20 until you to the bigger main courses and they didn't go too far above that mark. Go at dinner and you'll see main courses soar up into the $45-$60 range. Might be worth it.

The view alone is worth knowing about but pair it with Serrano's excellent food and you've got a double-threat winner.

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