Despite young age, Vic & Anthony’s recalls vintage Vegas

Vic & anthony’s

It seems most Las Vegas residents and regulars fall into two mutually exclusive categories when it comes to their appreciation of the city: Those who think the “real” Vegas died when the Rat Pack and the Mob left town, and those who gleefully watch old casinos implode while they eagerly await the opening of the next hi-rise condo, ultra lounge or high-end retail store.

I guess I stand among a small number of people whose appreciation for all things Vegas falls somewhere in between those two perspectives. When dying, smoky casinos such as the New Frontier go down, I welcome their end (someone please implode Circus Circus … soon), but when the Huntridge Theatre is being threatened, I take the side of preservation. I welcome — hell, eagerly encourage — New Urban development, but I feel it should be done by renovating older buildings (specifically, downtown) and not by just razing them and starting over. I find the “vintage” Vegas era especially charming, but I also can appreciate the allure of ultramodern surroundings, music and fashions.

However, most of my life is spent living in and pursuing the “new,” modern version of Las Vegas. So it was refreshing to head to Glitter Gulch (the area, not the strip club) for a little old-school night on the town at a classic-style Vegas joint, the Golden Nugget. Though the Nugget has been renovated and upgraded in the last few years thanks to a few changes of ownership, it retains that vintage Vegas charm, while offering enough fresh amenities to draw in a younger, hipper crowd. But this weekend, I went old school and had dinner at the property’s steak-and-seafood eatery, Vic & Anthony’s.

Vic & Anthony’s is the just-over-two-years-old steakhouse opened shortly after Landry’s purchase of the Nugget in 2005. Following the success of the original V&A in Houston, the Vegas location offers a dining experience built on excellent service, mouth-watering food and a dazzling wine selection. The darkened dining rooms feature charming, Art Deco-inspired lighting fixtures, stained glass installations, candle-lit tables, curtains and a back wall filled with framed, vintage, black and white photographs. A bar, separated by an etched-glass partition, serves as both a pre-meal lounge and a spot for a quick dinner.

After being professionally tucked into our seats and gleefully introduced to our server, my guest ordered a Riesling, which upon first sip she described as “perfect.” We both started the meals with salads, which came out of the kitchen surprisingly quickly. Mine was a serviceable Caesar, featuring tasty croûtons but a slightly too-biting dressing, while her spinach salad invoked considerably more enthusiastic accolades.

The entrees arrived not long after our salad dishes were cleared. I had the roasted salmon, stuffed with jumbo lump crab and gouda cheese, served with a healthy portion of whole mashed potatoes and the biggest asparagus spears I’ve ever seen. The fish was flaky, tasty and not overwhelming. My guest went with the chicken paige scaloppine, prepared with capers, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon butter. The portions were so sizable — unlike some similarly priced eateries — that neither of us had room for even the side of haricot vert we ordered, nor the last two cuts of my guest’s thinly sliced chicken, let alone dessert.

Vic & Anthony’s succeeds in reflecting the old-school era of Vegas elegance in a manner that betrays its young age, and fits perfectly with the unique position the Golden Nugget holds between the old and new worlds of Las Vegas. Even with drinks and coffee, we made it out of the restaurant for just over $100, and luck was a lady that night as a stop at a slot machine earned back nearly half the meal. Forget what Bally’s wants you to believe: Classic Vegas is alive and well downtown at the Golden Nugget.

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