The Sure-Thing Guide to the Best New Additions to Las Vegas (Slideshow)
April 1, 2016
Don’t roll the dice with your next Las Vegas decision; try one of these 13 new locations and hit the jackpot
After Central Michel Richard closed up shop in the Caesars Palace lobby, a new 24-hour restaurant called Café Americano took its place in May 2015. There are separate menus for breakfast, lunch, late night, dessert, and pizza; some of the notable offerings are beer-brined chicken wings, short rib nachos, blackened mahi-mahi tacos, crab cakes and grits, a variety of burgers, chicken carbonara mac and cheese, Cape Cod fish and chips, and the “Whole Hog” pizza topped with pork belly, andouille, pulled pork, pecan-wood-smoked bacon, guava barbecue sauce, and jalapeños. There’s also an all-day breakfast menu as well as specialty cocktails, martinis, Bloody Marys, 10 beers on tap, and a nice wine list.
Like most sane people who like to eat food, we’re big fans of Carbone in New York City, and its mastermind, Chef Mario Carbone. Imagine our delight when Mario (with partners Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick) opened up a Las Vegas outpost of his famed Italian restaurant in October 2015. This fine dining red sauce joint, located in the Aria Resort, features familiar dishes like prosciutto and mozzarella, baked clams, and sizzling pancetta appetizers; pasta dishes like lobster ravioli, linguini vongole, and spicy rigatoni vodka; bass, shrimp, and scallops for seafood; and veal parmesan, pork chop and peppers, and prime porterhouse for meat entrées. “The menu is filled with cuisine that everyone is familiar with, but we want to make the best version of those dishes you ever had,” Carbone told us in an interview. We’d hate to pull a George W. Bush and prematurely announce a victory, but six months in, it already looks like it’s mission accomplished for Carbone (the restaurant and the man).
Costa di Mare
When two-time James Beard Award-winning chef Paul Bartolotta, who'd made his name at Spiaggia in Chicago, was approached by Las Vegas hotelier and casino mogul Steve Wynn about opening a showplace restaurant at Wynn Las Vegas, he agreed on the condition that he could fly in the freshest possible fish and shellfish daily, directly from the Mediterranean. Wynn agreed — which is why, today, some of the freshest seafood it is possible to enjoy in America is found in the middle of the Mojave Desert, — even at Costa di Mare, which replaced Bartolotta in a quick-change last October. Although chef Mark LoRusso is now at the helm, the menu only changed a bit, and the seafood policy has remained the same. The choices in this cool, multi-level restaurant include not just the expected sea scallops, mussels, lobster, and such, but also real Italian vongole (clams), Mediterranean spiny lobster, Venetian spider crab, red mullet, and more. Of course, there's good meat and poultry and plenty of pasta, too — and tasting menus, if you simply can’t choose just one dish.
Flock & Fowl
After finding success at the Eureka Casino with Fat Choy, chef couple Sheridan Su and Jenny Wong opened Flock & Fowl off the northern end of the Strip on Sahara Avenue in September 2015. The casual eatery still has a very limited menu (which will expand soon), but serves a solid selection of chicken and rice dishes with influence from the Hainan province of southern China, like fried chicken bao, Thai caramel chicken wings, and the signature Hainanese chicken rice. Diners can choose from free-range poached chicken, buttermilk-fried chicken tenders, or roasted spring chicken, and additional items include eggs, Chinese sausage, and even a side of buttermilk-fried chicken skin. Flock & Fowl is poised to get even better when the menu gets longer, but that’s no reason to wait.
Harvest by Roy Ellamar
Only four months after Sensi served its last meal in September 2015, Harvest by Roy Ellamar opened in the spot it occupied at the Bellagio. Having grown up surrounded by farmers, foragers, and fisherman in his native Hawaii, chef Ellamar created a farm-to-table restaurant using produce, meat, and other ingredients from all over country, like grilled asparagus, spring harvest salads, or spinach and smoked trout salads from various Nevada farms; smoked kimchee brisket buns from California; foie gras from New York; Nebraska bone-in ribeye; Oregon grass-fed filet mignon; Alaskan halibut; and Maine lobster. Even the truffle fries and potato gratin sides are specified as coming from farms in California and Utah, respectively. And guests can personally see all the culinary creativity unfold thanks to the glass-enclosed exhibition kitchen.
After the original Herringbone in La Jolla, California, became (and remains) a smash hit, celebrity chef and Top Chef alum Brian Malarkey brought his ocean-to-table restaurant a bit further inland in December 2015, to Las Vegas’ Aria Resort and Casino. In addition to casual-chic coastal décor, indoor and outdoor seating, and regular live music, Herringbone features a menu with offerings such as tuna poke, East and West Coast oysters, shrimp ceviche, grilled baby octopus, crab cake poppers, and seafood combo platters named “dinghy,” “sail boat,” and “yacht.” Not down with sea life? Try the meatballs, pan-roasted chicken breast, rack of lamb, or the 18-ounce ribeye that was dry-aged for 40 days.
After being part of the Wynn Las Vegas opening back in 2005, chef Joseph Zanelli has spent the past decade off-Strip at Honey Salt, Made L.V., and Andiron, but recently returned to the Wynn for Jardin, which opened in December 2015. Serving American fare in a casual but elegant setting, the menu reflects the atmosphere with offerings like Buffalo cauliflower, Maine lobster rolls, short rib ravioli, pan-seared striped bass, oven-baked prawns, and a pinwheeled, sliced, and roasted waygu rib cap. And we’d be remiss not to mention the “fleur” chocolate cake, which is served in an edible chocolate flower pot. And “Jardin,” (French for “garden”) by the way, isn’t just a fancy name; you can actually enjoy your meal while overlooking the perfectly-manicured greenery and shimmering pools.
After months of anticipation, Mr Chow finally opened its doors at Caesars Palace in late 2015. In what is now his seventh international incarnation, Michael Chow has brought his famed Beijing cuisine to Las Vegas, which is the perfect setting for the glamorous restaurant, which uses a private set of elevators, and overlooks the picturesque Garden of the Gods pool. In addition to succulent Beijing duck, of course, the menu also features shrimp rolls, spareribs, a variety of dumplings and prawns, sea bass, Dungeness crab, lamb shank, and sweet and sour pork. The restaurant also prides itself on an impressive collection of bubbly.
You’ll have to venture off the Strip (don’t worry, it won’t go anywhere) to visit Other Mama, which opened in Spring 2015, but based on the buzz thus far, it’s totally worth it. The small, independent, west-side seafood joint has been a popular destination from the get-go, courtesy of chef Dan Krohmer (formerly of Philly’s Morimoto) and his Asian-influenced menu. Whether you seek oysters, ceviche, shrimp, sashimi, sushi, or scallops, you’ll be covered at Other Mama with dishes like caviar and French toast, spicy tuna tartare, shrimp and jalapeño hush puppies, and panko-fried oysters — and non-seafood offerings like spicy chicken wings, pork belly fried rice, or grilled prime ribeye. Now remind us again why you were so reluctant to stray from the Strip?
Situated high atop the new Delano Las Vegas hotel, overlooking the Strip, Rivea is the creation of multi-Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse and executive chef Bruno Riou, who serve simple, fresh Italian and French cooking in a sophisticated, but laid-back settling. Since opening in October 2015, the Rivea menu has featured small plates like eggplant caviar, prawn and calamari crostino, artichoke and spinach ravioli, and artisanal linguine and clams, along with Angus filet mignon, pepper-crusted bison tenderloin, and roasted duck breast mains. Rivea has a solid drink list too, but you should instead head over to the new, adjacent (and related) Skyfall Lounge, which also features 180-degree views of the city, as well as a bottle service option where guests can have their cocktails crafted tableside.
Pronounced like the Italian word for “cheers” (in three syllables), and not like the military gesture, Salute is a new trattoria that opened in the off-Strip Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa in September 2015. The culinary creations come from the cranium of chef Luciano Sautto, who cut his teeth at kitchens throughout Europe, in addition to Bianca at Delano in Miami and the Hotel Angeleno in Brentwood, California. The offerings at his new orange-and-blue clad joint include Italian classics like calamari, prosciutto and melon, eggplant parmesan, and crispy zucchini flowers to start, followed by gnocchi, lasagna, linguini vongole, and truffle tagliatelle pasta dishes, and branzino, chicken piccata, veal chop milanese, and seafood risotto mains. Part of the $35 million renovation of the Red Rock Resort, the 4,000-square-foot restaurant also includes patio seating at the casino’s entrance.
The Smashed Pig
Although the name probably reflects how most Las Vegas tourists feel after gorging themselves on all-you-can-eat buffets and too much free casino booze, The Smashed Pig actually offers quite an impressive spin on casual dining in Sin City. Nobu Matsuhisa-trained husband and wife chefs Martin Swift and Linda Rodriguez’s newest restaurant (their Hachi abruptly closed in early 2014) showcases a very simple but expertly crafted U.K.-influenced menu featuring oysters on the half shell, deviled eggs, fish and chips, bangers and mash, steak frites, and the signature Smashed Pig Burger, served with sea salt garlic fries. Of course the gastropub also features six rotating taps of craft beer and over a dozen canned options — many of which have suggested food pairings right in the menu.
When scouting locations for a new restaurant, the former site of a dollar store probably doesn’t seem too appealing — yet that’s exactly the place in which Therapy restaurant opened in Las Vegas last summer. Uniquely-designed with a small loft of extra tables in the back that overlook the rest of the semi-upscale, semi-industrial eatery, the restaurant features a diverse menu by chef Daniel Ontiveros. It includes oxtail empanadas, chicken meatballs, shrimp ceviche, hangar steak tartar, chicken and red velvet waffle sliders, braised short ribs, the restaurant’s signature bone-in pork chop, and the “Big Sexy” — a wagyu beef burger topped with Boston bib lettuce, marinated tomato, Brie, and scallion mayo. Of course, a place with a dish like the Big Sexy would also have some unique cocktail options, including the “Fuhgettaboudet” with Captain Morgan, Malibu, fresh tropical juices, and a hint of raspberry.