Monday, January 12, 2009

Eating at the Bar is No Gamble

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 3:34 PM

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No one can ever accuse Mike & Charlie's Italian Restaurant at Harrah's Casino of being a spaghetti joint -- cheap, it ain't. But if you're willing to sit at the bar when the restaurant is offering its Sicilian Sampler Bar Menu, it's available at the shiny, granite-topped bar seven nights a week from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. until the place closes (10 p.m. on weeknights, 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights).

I was introduced to this great meal deal by my high-rolling friend Georgina, who had enough comps that she encouraged Bob and I to order anything we wanted from the menu of eight Italian tapas plates. She wasn't being that generous: Each of the plates costs $2.95 and the portions are quite generous. It's easy to make a meal out of two or three of the offerings. I'm a big fan of the miniature meatball sliders served on a toasted roll with caramelized onions, roasted sweet red peppers and fontina cheese. I've been known to over-indulge on two plates of this "sampler." I'm also crazy about the lightly fried fresh Mozzarella, the baked canneloni and the flash-fried calamari.

The "Speidini Lollipop" is a cute way to taste one of co-owner Mike Garozzo's signature dishes, chicken speidini. And I really like the nice big slab of flatbread pizza, served hot and bubbling with roasted peppers and onions, although my friends remain unimpressed. The New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp are tasty, but not exactly Sicilian (ditto the toasted ravioli), but at $2.95 a pop, who quibbles about cultural roots? 

-- By Charles Ferruzza

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