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Chef Fortunato (Forti) Mazzone’s slick new establishment at the Time Square Sun International Casino boasts top-quality ingredients, authentic Italian dining and a welcoming atmosphere, albeit rather pricey.
The menu is extensive, with 40 pages of food, wine and cigar options. The starter selection, preceded by heavenly bread, is eclectic, with Italian classics like Parma ham and melon appearing alongside chicken wings, a vegan soup and lamb kidneys. All pasta dishes are available as starter options.
Antipasti can be hit and miss, although a large portion of chicken livers is satisfying, with a bold harmony of texture and flavour. Portion sizes across the menu do edge towards excess, which somehow jars with the elegance of a fine-dining establishment.
In terms of mains, it’s hard to go wrong. The many grill options include oxtail, steak and Wagyu beef (when available). Main course specialities feature seafood dishes, poultry, pork, lamb and a vegetarian shiitake mushroom risotto.
The tagliolini vongole – baby clams, tomato, garlic and white wine – is a simple, honest and beautiful dish that offers the satisfyingly tactile experience of scooping the delicate clams out of their shells. Seafood can easily become overwhelming in pasta dishes, but these bite-sized morsels are just right. A tiny dollop of chilli is sufficient to add a perfect amount of heat. Tender duck confit with sticky black cherry sauce, stir-fried vegetables and rice pilaf is attractively plated and colourful, packing a big flavour punch without being overtly gamey.
Desserts are fairly adventurous – crème brûlée with a twist, a Belgian chocolate brownie, and cheese and fruit selection. Orange bavarois served with vanilla ice cream is delicious without being fussy.
You don’t need to be a viticulturist to appreciate the care needed to assemble a wine offering of this extent – clearly, a labour of love for Forti. A South African wine map and page with an aroma wheel are thoughtful additions, and it is possible to tour the cellar. There are loads of cocktail options, whiskies and many pages of premium spirits. The humidor hosts an enormous array of fine cigars.
Barring a couple of details, the service is excellent, the arrival of the food is ideally timed and one feels free to linger.
It’s easy to forget you’re in a casino complex when you’re in this beautiful upmarket setting. A pleasant mix of families and business diners creates a warm atmosphere, even on a random weeknight. Chef Forti takes pride in being personally present and interacting with diners.
Pricey meals in an elegant milieu.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.