Vegas Values: Tuscan Treasures

Circo has a warm & cheery ambience
Photo by Kellee Kunovic

Time is ticking. Have you made your Valentine’s Day plans? I provided a variety of specials and themed parties last week. Today, I want to tell you about a real gem, Osteria del Circo. After acclaimed success in New York, the legendary Maccioni family brought Circo (pronounced CHEER-co) to the Bellagio. They have been pleasing diners with its Tuscan cuisine since it opened in 1998. This lakeside Italian restaurant delivers stunning views of the Fountains of Bellagio where the water dances every fifteen minutes after seven o’clock. The cheerful dining room designed by Adam D. Tihany is cloaked in playful fabrics reminiscent of carnival tent, creating a whimsical atmosphere. However, the menu, wine list and hospitality make this a sophisticated spot.

Circo’s upscale Tuscan dishes are a blend of Mrs. Maccioni’s family recipes and the refined skills of Executive Chef Massimiliano Campanari. Once seated, it is impossible to resist the intoxicating aromas that waft around the dining room from the kitchen. The difficulty is narrowing down the delectable options, with your choice of freshly made pastas, slow roasted meats and freshly caught seafood it is hard to choose. The wine list naturally focuses on Italian wines. However, more than 900 are featured, including those from all over the world.

On a recent visit we snacked on freshly baked caramelized onion focaccia and crusty Italian bread dipped in extra-virgin olive oil while waiting for our starter to be prepared. Our feast began with delightful Dungeness crab risotto ($37) split into two portions. Next, we dug into “Mama Egi’s” ravioli ($26) which are pillows filled with a luscious combination of sheep’s milk ricotta cheese, spinach, swiss chard in a butter sage sauce. And then, we thoroughly enjoyed Circo’s signature perfectly tender rack of lamb ($51) crusted with pecorino cheese and thyme. Every bite was better than the last. It was the perfect meal complimented by glasses of Pinot Grigio ($11) and Pinot Noir ($17). Tiramisu and coffee gelato for dessert only made the experience sweeter ($12). This silky splurge is not to miss. Trust me when I say it’s too good to share and you will regret not getting your own.

We have been delighted at Circo time and time again. The service and food are stellar, and the ambience sets the tone for a splendid evening. Osteria del Circo quickly joined the ranks of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas. Now, with a few meals under my belt, I suspect it may just be my favorite. It is a sure pick for Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion. When you are working with a tighter budget the Circo Prix Fixe menu is worth consideration. The $49 three course meal is served until 7 pm, nightly. It is a fantastic way to experience these Tuscan treasures from the Maccioni family.

Osteria del Circo, located within the Bellagio, serves dinner daily 5:30 – 10:30 pm.