Art in 10 Las Vegas Restaurants
Aria Resort & Casino: Carbone
Carbone is a trove of hidden gems, including the painting to the left when you first walk into the restaurant; that’s a work of Robert de Niro’s father. Another prominent artist you'll find on the restaurant's walls is Julian Shnabel. The owners of Carbone are so close with Schnabel that not only have they hung several of his works in the restaurant, but they’ve even tweaked the menu to change a recipe for him. He loves to cook and once went into the kitchen to change a dish to his liking. The chefs liked it so much that they kept his way and called the dish "Spaghetti Julian".
Getting back to the art, make sure you take in the massive Christopher Walken piece right behind the hostess stand as well as the massive chandelier in the dining room, which was acquired from a Ferrari dealership.
Carbone does New York-Italian so well that The Godfather would be proud to eat there. The “Captains” provide excellent no-fuss service while delivering the signatures. From hors d’oeuvres like chunks of Parmesan and salami to incredible executions of veal Parmesan and tableside Caesar salad, Carbone is about as good as it gets for Italian. Capiche?
Aria Resort & Casino: Javier’s
Javier’s is a relatively new Mexican joint just off the casino floor in Aria. If you head to the back of the restaurant (on the right side), you’ll find one heck of a unique piece of art created by J. Chester Armstrong. On the back wall is a 3,000-pound masterpiece that illustrates the mythical Mayan story of creation. What makes it so interesting is that it was created by a man who has chainsaws of all types and sizes, and he carved the entire wall using them. The detail of the skeletons is quite incredible. Spanning 25 feet and weighing more than 3,000 pounds, it’s the world’s largest piece of art of its kind.
There’s a lot of quality French food and steakhouses on the Strip, but a quality Mexican kitchen is harder to find than you might think. Javier’s is just that, though, as you’ll find a long menu stocked with seafood (try the ceviche), steaks, chicken, and all sorts of Mexican-style cuisine.
Aria Resort & Casino: Sage
French artist Paulin Paris’ work is fully on display at Sage. If the work looks familiar but changed, that’s because it’s her take on some old classics. Take a look at the art enhancing the walls around the mirror in the bar; that’s Manet’s “The Luncheon on the Grass.” Or if you look in the main dining room, you’ll see her interpretation of Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party.”
Aria is one of the few places in Las Vegas you can find absinthe, but go for the food first and foremost. Rising star chef Shawn McClain, who has now been shining in Vegas for just more than five years, has a really fun menu to eat through. You can get swept away by his creativity with dishes like the foie gras crème brûlée, or you can stick with the well-executed classics like black bass.
Bellagio Hotel: Lago
Lago’s best display is the Bellagio Fountains — the restaurant’s patio presents what is arguably the best view in town — but it is adorned with traditional art as well. At the entrance, take note of the colors. You might think it’s just some random design but the 1,500-square foot mosaic is actually an abstract map of Milan. It’s made of colored, back-lit glass panels.
The venue is the first Italian restaurant of James Beard Award-winning chef Julian Serrano. Though the cuisine is Italian, the idea behind it is small plates with brave flavors. Make sure you don’t skip the desserts.
Bellagio Hotel: Picasso
You’d be hard-pressed to top the $30 million in Picasso paintings found in Picasso at Bellagio. That includes the two paintings (pictured here) that were hidden from the Nazis during the World War II. Take note of the plates as well, which are custom-made with Picasso designs. Though the dining room is exquisite, sitting on the patio will get you a front row view to the Bellagio Fountains.
Julian Serrano’s Picasso is the only restaurant with two Michelin stars in Las Vegas (Joel Robuchon is the only restaurant with three Michelin stars). There is a certain expectation set with that type of honor and they do not disappoint. The dishes delivered are detailed works of art themselves.
Delano Hotel: Rivea
Alain Ducasse is one of the most decorated chefs in the world, so it’s no surprise that his lone dining room in Las Vegas is handsomely decorated as well. As you walk in, your eyes will be drawn to the glass chandelier, which is incredibly pieced together using 15,000 hand-blown glass spheres. Those spheres come from Murano, Italy, and they emit a feeling of water drops from above.
Though the restaurant has a Parisian décor, the menu is actually a blend of French and Italian food. It’s not ornate; the dishes are clean, fresh, and simple. The ingredients are the freshest that the West Coast has to offer, and the tastes will take you to the south of France and north of Italy.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino: Libertine Social
One of the newest Las Vegas hot spots is Libertine Social in Mandalay Bay. Star chef Shawn McClain designs in the kitchen but the piece of art your eyes will be drawn to (other than the food) the graffiti that now covers the former “Body Wall.” The mural fuses nature, animals, and surrealism, and is gorgeous and powerful. World-renowned graffiti artist Alexis Diaz was called upon for his creativity and his eclectic creation now serves as a must-see.
Libertine Social’s Food
McClain just celebrated his six-year anniversary in Las Vegas and a lot of foodies are excited for what the James Beard-award winner will deliver in the future. Libertine Social has an array of menu items that will tickle your taste buds from strawberry gazpacho to duck pastrami to margarita doughnuts. And make sure you try the cocktails of legendary mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim, who runs the cocktail program. He and McClain collaborated on the restaurant after being partnered up in Season 10 of Iron Chef.
MGM Grand: Joel Robuchon
Leave to the most exquisite restaurant in Las Vegas to have some elegant art. If you happen to dine in the private area, you’ll discover L’age d’airain — or “Age of Airain” — which is was the first bronze statue of famed artist Auguste Rodin. It’s a grown man celebrating his nudity.
Joel Robuchon’s Food
Robuchon is the only restaurant in Las Vegas to have earned three Michelin stars. That means the experience, the service and the food is a cut above everywhere else. This delicate dish, caviar araignee de mer, or caviar “spider of the sea,” is a piece of art itself.
MGM Grand: Morimoto
Morimoto has finally made his debut in Las Vegas. Located in the MGM Grand, both the food and venue itself encourage a visit. Starting with the art, check out the three-dimensional sculpture of Morimoto himself. It’s a really unique piece as it is made entirely of rope. The idea was to create a whimsical figure as an ode to the complex chef whose dishes offer many layers of taste.
The Iron Chef is known for bringing the world together with his East-meets-West style. You’ll find a lot of whimsical names on the mention that are one part Asian, one part Western, like the yellowtail “pastrami,” laksa noodle soup, and toro tartare.
The Park: Sake Rok
Sake Rok is one of the trendiest spots on the Strip. The dining experience is like any other as the cuisine is Japanese while the vibe is Harajuku-like. That means costumes, spectacle, and pop performances. There’s an emcee that narrates the night and the waitstaff breaks into song and dance throughout the night. The piece of art you’ll be looking for is on the walls. Crystal Solis of Freddie Ramon Design wanted to create an underground graffiti scene with a Japanese flare to it. That's what you’ll see in the cool characters on the wall.
Sake Rok’s Food
Winner of the 2016 OpenTable “Diners’ Choice Award,” Sake Rok is more than just a show. The Japanese flavors are on point, from sushi to sashimi to tempura. The one thing you’ll want to try is the sake menu, which is quite extensive. They’ve got everything from bubbly to ginjo to junmai.