Martorano’s at Rio Las Vegas is an upscale and casually chic Italian restaurant with an ever evolving menu created by executive Chef Steve Martorano, whose South Philly inspired Italian cooking gained such a great reputation that he catered for the cast ofThe Sopranos.
The chef put a lot of his personality into the cool vibe of the restaurant, personally curating a playlist that pumps through the state of the art sound system. During the early evening, Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin and other Rat Pack era tunes dominate the playlist to create a relaxed and romantic vibe. But as the night grows later, more up-tempo soul, disco, R&B, and classic rock tracks take over while a high tech lighting system creates an atmosphere in which guests are encouraged to get up and dance. At various times during the night, the music cuts out as classic scenes from Martorano’s favorite movies play on the restaurant’s many flat screen TVs.
Martorano is just as innovative with the restaurant’s menu, which emphasizes the kind of home style Italian cooking he grew up eating in Philadelphia but continuously evolves to reflect the way he eats now. Starters include Fried Mozzarella, Pig’s Feet and Pork Skin, Shrimp Scampi Bread, South Philly Cheesesteak, Fried Calamari with sweet and spicy Chili Sauce, Caprese Salad, and the chef’s famous homemade meatballs. Pasta dishes include clam linguini, spaghetti with those famous meatballs, chicken fusilli, and rigatoni with Sunday pork gravy. Meat and seafood selections include veal cutlet parmesan, chicken marsala, lobster Francaise, and veal picatta. Chef Martorano forbids substitutions on his meals… but they’re prepared with such heart and personality, visitors would be hard pressed to improve upon them anyway.
The menu includes a huge selection of wines served by the glass or bottle that pair perfectly with the food, but the restaurant is also known for signature cocktails like “The Godfather” and “The Frank Sinatra.” Desserts include decadent New York Cheesecake, Cannolis, and Tiramisu.
Many restaurants are named after celebrity chefs, but few places are as infused with as much of the personality of their creator as the energetic yet chic Martoranos at Rio.