I have never been secretive about my love affair with Venice. It is an open and honest relationship, possibly one-sided, but sincere. And since I was in Las Vegas and not Italy, I had to do the next best thing to spending time with my beloved…go to the Venetian.

With its gondola rides down the pseudo-grand canal, luxury shopping and fine Italian dining, it is reminiscent of Venice. If I squint my eyes.

A visit there wouldn’t be complete without dining at one of the well-renowned restaurants and Mario Batali’s Otto fit the bill. Besides, it had a really cool meat curing fridge designed to look like the leaning tower of Pisa. Bonus.

We had dined the evening before at another, just-as-popular, fellow Italians restaurant and wasn’t impressed. I was hoping that Mr. Batali could one-up his competition.

We started with the cauliflower, orange and olive verdure ($6). Simple. Delicious.

The grilled radicchio with smoked mozzarella ($8) was listed under insalate, but it unexpectedly came to the table hot and baked.

This was a knife and fork salad.

The char on the chicory tamed its bitter taste, which was otherwise masked by the smokiness of the mozzarella. Why didn’t I order the larger portion?

Bacon & Mozzarella Pizza. Enough said?

Not only do I always covet a thin-crust pizza, but one without the typical heavy layer of formaggio has a place in my heart. The vacant, unclogged-artery section.

Though the Otto Sundae was calling my name, loudly, and I finished all my dinner, my stomach said no more. Damn you overstuffed gut.

Have you ever been to Otto? What restaurant reminds you of Italy?