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Monday, August 29, 2011

Battista's Hole In the Wall- Las Vegas

Simone and I have always loved Battista's Hole In the Wall located just off the strip in Las Vegas. It has an old Vegas vibe, and always has very good home cooked Italian food.  We first went to Battista's during our honeymoon on the advise of a travel book and we have been back three or four times since. With our vacation winding down and the reality of going back to our everyday world creeping in, we decided what better way to cheer ourselves up then to visit our old standby.  Although located in a easy to miss small strip mall behind the Flamingo Hotel and Casino Battista's is always busy, no matter what time or what day you go, be prepared to either make a reservation or wait for at least 15 minutes. They are only open for dinner and locals and tourists alike fill up the many tables quickly.  Waiting for a table at Battista's is torture for the soul. As you sit and take in the many pictures of celebrities, the mini Liquor bottle collection and the strange Knic-knacks that fill the ceiling you are overcome by the delicious aroma from the kitchen of fresh baked Garlic Bread and Ripe Tomato Sauce.

After about a 15 minute wait Simone and I were led to a table in one of the side rooms. It was only a few seconds before the waitress got to our table with two full pitchers of House Red and White Wine. This is one of the wonderful surprises that you get at Battista's. With every meal comes lots of House Red and White wine, and while a wine snob may not find this to be the best they have ever tasted, to a Maine redneck like me, it is perfection in a pitcher.

Also free with the meal is some very toasty Garlic bread that is pasted with crushed whole cloves of garlic. Don't worry about saving the bread for dinner, when you finish it they'll bring you more. 

                                                     Each meal also comes with Minestrone Soup or a fresh Italian Salad with house made vinaigrette, salami, cheese, tomatoes and an olive.  We have never had the soup ( don't want to fill up on all that broth) but we do enjoy the salad. To finish off the free stuff you also get a side of basic pasta with your choice of sauce.

There are no menus on the table at Battista's. They are posted on the wall of every room. Although the prices at first glance seem pricey ( chicken at 27.00- insanity !) keep in mind you are getting endless wine and bread, fresh soup or salad, pasta and oh yeah, the best damn Cappuccino ever to finish the meal. More on that later.

For her meal, Simone had Spaghetti and Meatballs and I ordered Veal Parmesan. While we waited for our meal we were greeted with a song from our favorite little old man accordion player. It is rumored that he has been going from table to table performing since Battista's first came to Vegas more then 30 years ago. He looks to be in his nineties, but he plays a damn good accordion, and in my opinion ( which is always correct) He really just puts the icing on the whole Battista experience. Italian wine, Italian food and Italian music. You get it all when you are here.

The food arrived shortly after our evening serenade and although I have seen prettier dishes, they were cooked perfectly. The Veal was literally drowning in melted Mozzarella and fresh ripe tasting Tomato Sauce. If you do not love your cheese then avoid this. If you do love cheese ( and also baby cow) then this is the dish for you.  Along with the Veal was a side of intense flavored spinach seasoned with spices including a good dose of nutmeg. This was different but good. Simone shared her meatballs which were also very good. Large, tender and well seasoned they mixed perfectly with the tomato sauce and al dente spaghetti. Surprisingly we finished everything ( including most of the wine-yow!)

After some deliberation we decided to finish the meal with the Italian specialty Cannoli, with of course two (free) Cappuccino's. The Cannoli shell was crispy and mildly vanilla flavored while the smooth and creamy cheese filling was rich and dense.

The Cappuccino is not to be missed, it is unlike any other - Its not at all like coffee. Its not bitter but slightly chocolaty sweet and it is the perfect way to end your meal. 

We love it here and would suggest it to anyone looking to get away from the craziness of the strip, get drunk on cheap wine, and have some damn good Italian food while being brought back to the old world .  4.5 stars for Battista's Hole in the Wall.