Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Mercato Della Pescheria at Venetian Is a Las Vegas Must-Try

There’s an old Italian saying, “Il savio non s’imbarca senza biscotto.” It means, “A wise man never boards a ship without biscuits.”

We have no idea how that phrase relates to the captivating Mercato Della Pescheria at Venetian Las Vegas, but it was the best we could manage after a one-minute Google search.

Let’s eat!

Mercato Della Pescheria

Here’s a fun fact: Guests prefer to sit on the “patio” at Mercato Della Pescheria, despite the fact it’s not, technically, outdoors.

Mercato Della Pescheria has somehow managed to fly under the radar, but it’s easily one of the best Italian restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip.

The restaurant is tucked neatly in a corner of St. Mark’s Square in the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shops. The space was previously occupied by a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Postrio.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Yes, we made a beeline to the bar. Do you know this blog at all?

Mercato Della Pescheria is Italian for “fish market,” a much less romantic term than “Mercato Della Pescheria.”

Mercato Della Pescheria is a mouthful, and is probably one of the reasons you don’t hear more about it. We’ve taken to calling it “Mercato” for short, or just “Rinaldo,” mainly when we’re drunk.

Mercato was inspired by an Italian coast seafood market. The vast majority of the ingredients in the dishes are imported from Italy, as are the servers, hostesses and managers at Mercato Della Pescheria.

You can see one of those Italian imports at the end of our walk-through.

While we are not a food critic, we can attest to the authenticity of the dishes, as we have eaten in the actual country of Italy.

To start, try selections from the menu’s “Salumeria” section (or “delicatessen”). Here you’ll find exceptional cured meats and Italian cheeses, almost all of which have names with ample vowels.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Stick to the small board. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Sorry about the sports analogy, we won’t let it happen again.

Appetizers include bruschetta (it’s the law), beef carpaccio, fried calamari, meatballs, marinated vegetables and other items.

Oh, and wood-roasted octopus. This is why you bring someone with you to Italian restaurants. They can tell you it’s delicious, and you can just trust their judgment.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Octopuses are soft-bodied, eight-armed molluscs. We can certainly sympathize with the soft-bodied part.

Before you get too far into the menu, you’ll want to try one, or several, of Mercato Della Pescheria’s signature cocktails.

As further proof we are not a restaurant reviewer, we have no idea which signature cocktail this is. We do remember it was absolutely delicious, so take a leap of faith, order something the waitress recommends and know you’ll get something good.

Mercato Della Pescheria cocktail

There’s a chance this is an “Italian Highball,” with Skyy Infusions Georgia Peach vodka, Aperol (an Italian aperitif), white peach puree, lemon and San Pellegrino blood orange soda.

Mercato has a dizzying selection of fresh pasta dishes, which sort of made us wish we were a cow. Because they have four stomachs. Please try and keep up.

If you’re like us, most of the pasta you eat comes out of a “box” or “bag” from a “grocery store.” This is blasphemy to Italians, and once you have pasta made in-house, you may never go back.

Mercato pasta

Fresh pasta, suitable for inhalation.

The rest of the menu is devoted to meat and seafood, from the “coal-fired Josper oven and grill,” whatever that might actually be.

Simply put, every damn dish is better than the next at Mercato Della Pescheria. The veal osso buco was impressive, and we are not personally a veal person.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Sometimes, food is so pretty, you don’t want to eat it. The amazing part is we nearly wrote that with a straight face.

The shining star at Mercato Della Pescheria was the lasagna, the “Lasagna Della Mamma.” It’s easily among the best we’ve ever had. In our lives. And we have lived a fairly long life. Don’t rub it in.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Do not covet our lasagna. We can totally tell you’re coveting.

You will absolutely not have room for dessert, but have it, anyway.

Ask about the tiramisu (sorry, “Il Tiramisu”), as it’s prepared fresh, tableside, with homemade lady fingers, mascarpone cream, coffee and chocolate.

Mercato Della Pescheria

“Grazie!” we exclaimed. “I’m from Poland,” she replied, as we nearly caused an international incident.

While Mercato Della Pescheria isn’t cheap, you get what you pay for, and given the quality and freshness of the food, we consider it a value as well as an upscale dining experience you probably can’t find back home. Unless your home is Milan.

Mercato Della Pescheria

One more panty-dropper cocktail, the Cosmo Bianca, with Skyy Bartlett Pear vodka, St. Germain, lime sour and white cranberry.

If you’re visiting Las Vegas, it’s all about finding unforgettable experiences, and Mercato Della Pescheria is a “bellissima” example of just that.

Find out more at the official site, and make sure to check out the full menu.

Mercato Della Pescheria at Venetian

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Major Changes In the Works for SLS Las Vegas Restaurants

Following word of the sale of SLS Las Vegas to Alex Meruelo a few weeks ago, we surmised there would be major changes to the resort’s line-up of restaurants, and we were right.

While many of the plans are still in flux, all the restaurants at SLS are being scrutinized. It appears any restaurant with ties to former investor Sam Nazarian and his SBE Entertainment will be flipped to new concepts.

From what we hear, the new owner of SLS, Alex Meruelo, has strong opinions and likes having creative control of his various companies. This extends to what his restaurant offerings will be, and he has apparently already been very involved in selecting what dining options will ultimately stay or go at SLS.

As for the specifics of the restaurant changes, Umami Burger will go.

Umami Burger

You can kiss these lips goodbye.

The vibe of the restaurant is likely to stay the same, though, as it dovetails nicely into the sports book bar vibe. There’s been some discussion with Buffalo Wild Wings to move into the space, but even if that deal doesn’t materialize, the venue is likely to remain a wing and burger restaurant.

The reliably unremarkable 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria will also go, becoming a restaurant with similar cuisine, La Pizza Loca.

SLS pizza

Pizza is like sex. We prefer it with utensils.

La Pizza Loca is a chain in southern California. It’s owned by (wait for it) Meruelo Group. That should be a fairly seamless transition.

Cleo, our favorite restaurant at SLS Las Vegas (and possibly on the entire Strip), is, tragically, also not long for this world.

It’s believed the Mediterranean restaurant (again, licensed from SBE Entertainment) may soon become a Mexican restaurant, along the lines of Michoacan, a popular Las Vegas favorite.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Eating at Cleo is like sex. It’s actually better than sex, but when we tell people that, we get odd looks, so we’re sticking with that it’s like sex.

Sushi restaurant Katsuya, another SBE Entertainment-licensed joint, is also likely to go away as the ownership change approaches. Its replacement hasn’t been determined.

Katsuya

“Katsuya” is a Japanese words meaning, “Don’t look now, but your food involves suction cups. And possibly sex, just to keep these photo captions consistent.”

A big question mark is, of course, Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres. It’s regarded as the crown jewel of the SLS restaurant portfolio. We can’t share what’s in store for Bazaar Meat at the moment. All we can say is all the SBE-licensed restaurants are likely to end their run at SLS Las Vegas in the months to come.

Bazaar Meat is an SBE-licensed restaurant.

Bazaar Meat

Bazaar Meat defies description, especially when we’re drunk.

Word has it there are no plans to re-open the space that was the former home of Ku Noodle. The restaurant has been walled off, and the typical visitor wouldn’t even know it ever existed.

SLS

Ku Noodle is camouflaged much like the a pygmy seahorse resting upon Malaysian red coral. What, you thought we were kidding about the drunk thing?

The one restaurant that isn’t going anywhere is the resort’s 24-hour restaurant, Northside Cafe. Northside Cafe is managed in-house after a partnership with The Griddle Cafe and its owner Jodi Hortze ended with lots of drama nobody ever talks about.

Northside Cafe at SLS

No need for the flop sweat, Northside. You’re safe.

That’s all we know at the moment.

If you read this blog on a regular basis (and why would you?), you know better than to form emotional attachments to anything in Las Vegas. The sole exception is Cleo, of course.

The bottom line: We recommend you hit Cleo and Bazaar Meat at SLS Las Vegas while you can.

Update (6/19/17): An alert reader passes along that Aria is surveying guests about their familiarity with Jose Andres (Bazaar Meat). The tipster suggests the possibility Bazaar Meat could move to barMASA, a Japanese venue which previously set two closing dates.

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Red Rock Resorts Will Reportedly Jettison Five Restaurants and Clique Hospitality

There’s a shake-up on the way, and it could mark the end of five restaurants at Red Rock Resorts casinos in Las Vegas.

Rumors are Red Rock Resorts, also known as Station Casinos, will sever ties with one of its main restaurant partners, Clique Hospitality Group, at the end of 2017.

In the parlance of Las Vegas restaurants: This could be a really big deal.

Red Rock Resort

If you guessed we wrote this entire article as an excuse to share this kick-ass photo we took of Red Rock resort, you could be right.

The change in relationship between Station Casinos and Clique Hospitality is going to mean a number of restaurants will be rebranded or replaced.

If the rumors are true, Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar, Salute Trattoria Italiana and Libre Mexican Cantina will soon be out at Red Rock resort.

At Green Valley Ranch, Bottiglia and Borracha Mexican Cantina will be getting a swan song as well.

Bottiglia

It sounds like Bottiglia is one of the restaurants about to get whacked.

Clique Hospitality was founded by Andy Masi, founder of Light Group, and his partners Brian Massie and Shane Monaco.

Clique Hospitality is, at its heart, a relatively well-regarded nightlife company. The firm’s expansion into restaurants has been less successful. (Don’t even get us started about our experience at their “restaurant” at Mirage, The Still. It was so disappointing, we couldn’t even bear to write about it.)

Replacements for the outgoing restaurants have yet to be finalized. Red Rock Resorts could seek other partners, or just retool the restaurants and manage them in-house.

An interesting side note is Red Rock Resorts recently bought the Palms resort. We predicted Clique Hospitality would play a key role in rebranding the resort’s restaurants, but that now
seems an unlikely scenario.

Palms recently announced it will open a new 24-hour cafe, Lucky Penny, on July 1. The Bistro Buffet at Palms closes June 30, with a new food hall concept coming in December 2017. In the meantime, a temporary offering, Social Table, will operate in the hotel’s former Hooter’s space. Clique is nowhere to be found in plans for the Palms.

Clique Hospitality

What doesn’t kill us can still be fairly awkward.

The falling out with Red Rock Resorts means a hefty chunk of Clique’s restaurant portfolio could be wiped out by the end of the year.

We quite enjoyed Clique Bar & Lounge at Cosmopolitan, so here’s hoping Clique Hospitality will continue to seek out nightlife opportunities around town with other resort partners.

Update (6/15/17): According to Lori Nelson, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Station Casinos, the rumors in our story are unfounded. She states, “The rumors in your blog about the restaurants at Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch Resort are false. We value and enjoy a great relationship with Andy Masi and Clique Hospitality.”

Thanks to the folks at Station for taking the time to reach out.

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Caesars Entertainment Explores Restaurants From Jennifer Lopez and “Deadliest Catch”

Caesars Entertainment, the casino giant that operates 10 resorts on or near the Las Vegas Strip, loves it some surveys.

A recent survey provides a gold mine of information about restaurant partnerships being explored by Caesars, including Jennifer Lopez and the reality series, “Deadly Catch.”

The first question mentions a potential new restaurant created by a celebrity or performer, and asks customers which celebrity’s dishes the restaurant should feature.

Caesars survey

Just a random list of celebrities, right? Have you learned nothing from this blog?

If you’ve seen enough of these surveys, you know that while Caesars appears to be fishing, they’re actually leading survey-takers down a path. That path leads to Jennifer Lopez.

How do we know? Ponder this question: Which celebrity, out of all the celebrities listed, has a super successful residency at Planet Hollywood, a Caesars Entertainment resort?

Hey, we can make up leading questions, too.

Answer: Jennifer Lopez.

Jennifer Lopez

We’re fairly sure Jennifer Lopez would spend about as much time cooking in her Las Vegas restaurant as Guy Fieri does in his.

While Lopez has no culinary training we know of, Caesars Entertainment has had a lot of success creating restaurants with folks like Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri and Giada De Laurentiis. Jennifer Lopez would seem a good fit for a restaurant offering, although we’d love to see what hottie Chrissy Teigen or golfer Phil Mickelson might bring to the table. Literally.

Next on the survey is an intriguing question about a buffet inspired by a TV show.

Caesars survey

Just some random shows, right? Ah, now you’re getting it.

While this blog loves it some Pioneer Woman, Caesars is actually hoping our gaze lands upon “Deadliest Catch.”

How do we know?

Caesars survey

You’re getting the hang of this. You should start a Las Vegas blog. The hours are awful, but the groupies.

That’s right, Caesars Entertainment is considering a buffet inspired by one of the best reality shows of all time, “Deadliest Catch.”

The answer to the question, of course, is “crab.”

Rio buffet crab legs

Fun fact: The Rio’s buffet serves up 1,200 pounds of crab legs every day.

While we can’t know which resorts might be getting a Jennifer Lopez restaurant or a “Deadliest Catch” buffet, we figure it’s about time for a rebrand of the Spice Market Buffet at Planet Hollywood.

What conclusions do you draw from this survey? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment.

 

 

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Cleo at SLS Las Vegas is the Best Las Vegas Restaurant You Haven’t Tried Yet

It’s an overlooked gem of a restaurant at an overlooked gem of a Las Vegas resort. Cleo at SLS Las Vegas is a must-try, and chances are you haven’t been there yet.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Cleo’s entrance is a pyramid, believed to be good luck. Having tasted the signature cocktails at Cleo, it’s hard to argue that belief.

Cleo has been around since SLS Las Vegas opened at around midnight on August 22, 2014.

While offerings at SLS have come and go, Cleo has remained a reliably great dining option, and it’s about time you gave it a go.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Cleo’s decor has a pitched roof, Moroccan tiles and chandeliers, and other things we sort of don’t notice because we tend to be face-down in the wonderful food.

Cleo is a holdover from a time when SLS Las Vegas was a partnership with SBE Entertainment Group. While SBE is no longer in the picture, Cleo has been successful enough to warrant its license fee, and we’re thankful for that whenever we dive headlong into the restaurant’s consistently delicious offerings.

Let’s try a few of Cleo’s sure-fire, Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Start with “Dips With Laffa.” While this may sound like a Middle Eastern late night talk show, laffa is actually a soft, pita-like Sephardic bread, a description we definitely didn’t copy and paste from the Internet.

The dips are irresistible (start with the lebaneh with feta), and the chewy, heavenly bread just keeps on coming.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas laffa

You know how some people say, “Don’t fill up on bread”? All due respect, those people are idiots.

Next, make a go of the “Spicy Cigars,” the only cigar this blog does not find absolutely revolting.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Oh, get your mind out of the gutter. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

If you hate Brussels sprouts, Cleo’s will change your life forever. If you like Brussels sprouts, what in the hell is wrong with you?

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Eating the Brussels sprouts at Cleo was the first time we ever had them without feeling like we were being punished for something.

We have yet to try a kebab at Cleo we didn’t love. Moist, perfectly seasoned and expertly cooked, start with Chicken Kebab and you’re well on your way to one of the best meals in Las Vegas.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

It’s likely the kebabs at Cleo will inspire your gustatory cells to send a thank-you note.

It’s probably a good time to explore the signature cocktail menu, arguably as memorable as the food at Cleo.

We’ve tried just about every signature cocktail there is at Cleo, and there’s not a single disappointment in the bunch. Start with a Cucumber Smash, try the Lotus Flower or Raspberry Twist, then close with the Janapolitan or Mediterranean Margarita.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

The Cucumber Smash has Jameson whiskey, muddled cucumber, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and lemon juice.

Back to the food!

As mentioned, Cleo is a perfect place to order things you’d never imagine yourself ordering.

We even tried the grilled octopus, and we are absolutely not a grilled octopus person.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

You say gelatinous and suction cuppy like it’s a bad thing.

The flatbreads are stellar. That’s pizza to us common folk. The fact we once tried the kale flatbread is testament to the hold Cleo has over us.

This one below is probably the Roman. We didn’t have time to take notes. We were too busy having our taste buds titillated. Which, we realize, is illegal in certain Southern states.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

If you have the drunchies, it’s pizza. If you’re trying to impress someone on a date, it’s flatbread.

The highlight of any Cleo meal, though, is the exquisite chicken tagine. There are so many layers of flavor, you’ll feel like an archaeologist. Look, you know what we mean.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Do not make us choose between sex and Cleo’s chicken tagine. We don’t want to hurt sex’s feelings.

We recently saw the recipe for Cleo’s chicken tagine, and we’re not exaggerating when we say it has 40 ingredients, and that doesn’t even include the dozen or so used simply for the garnish and presentation.

Again, we can’t do it justice with mere photography. Just trust in the fact it’s one of the best dishes we’ve ever had in our entire life, and if you don’t like it, we pledge to finish yours for you.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Chicken tagine is made in (wait for it) tagine pots. “Tagine” is believed to have come from the Persian, meaning “laid at the bottom of the pan,” which is possibly why this dish is so satisfying.

Everything at Cleo leaves you feeling both satisfied, but not stuffed.

Yes, that means there’s room for another cocktail. There’s always a method to our madness.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

We take the fact we don’t remember the name of this cocktail as a sign it was fantastic.

If you don’t trust our judgment about what to order, Cleo also has tasting menus. There’s a “Cleo Favorites” tasting menu for $50 per person (two person minimum) and Chef’s Signature tasting menu for $65 (two person minimum). Learn more.

With exceptional service and moderate prices, Cleo hits all the right notes for an incomparable night out in Las Vegas.

While you’re there, make sure to check out the wood-fired oven where a lot of the culinary magic happens.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

You may experience pangs of guilt when you realize everything on the menu at Cleo is $20 or less. Compensate by ordering more. You’re in Vegas.

Find the full Cleo menu at the official site of SLS Las Vegas.

Here’s a photo gallery of more food and drink at Cleo, as if you weren’t already salivating all over your keyboard.

Cleo at SLS Las Vegas

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Impossible Burger at Andrea’s is a Good Burger, But a Spectacular Veggie Burger

There’s been a good amount of buzz about a new menu item at Andrea’s inside Encore, the Impossible Burger, so we wasted no time trying the burger that uses “zero percent cow.”

The Impossible Burger is served three ways. We chose the sliders.

Impossible Burger

Some assembly required.

The Impossible Burger patties are served on a hot plate, with the patties still sizzling, and the fragrance is distinctly meatlike.

Despite their appearance, Impossible Burgers are completely meat-free and vegetarian-friendly.

Impossible Burger

“Improbable Burger” is probably more accurate, but doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

According to the Impossible Burger Web site, “Compared to cows, the Impossible Burger uses 95% less land, 74% less water and creates 87% less greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s 100% free of hormones, antibiotics and artificial ingredients.”

We may have removed a couple of Oxford commas from that excerpt, but only because they’re about as necessary as a clever pick-up line at a brothel. Moving on.

Impossible Burger

Yes, they could’ve inserted the meat in the kitchen, but imagine the number of H.R. and health violations.

Impossible Burger meat is a concoction of wheat, coconut oil, potatoes and other all-natural ingredients. We liked it, anyway.

A key ingredient of Impossible Burgers is something called heme. Heme is “an iron-containing compound of the porphyrin class that forms the nonprotein part of hemoglobin and some other biological molecules.” Which, as you can imagine, looks sexy as hell on the menu at Andrea’s.

According to the folks at Impossible Foods, heme “is what makes meat smell, sizzle and bleed.”

Andrea's Encore

Andrea’s is named after Steve Wynn’s wife, Andrea Hissom. (Those are her eyes.) She’s not called Andrea Wynn, mainly because if she were, Wynn’s former wife, Elaine, would rain down hell fire and haunt us all for an eternity.

The three sliders are served with frisee (or endive, a member of the chicory family), kimchee (think vegetables with a personal hygiene problem) and pickles (think cucumber with a personal hygiene problem).

Impossible Burger sliders come with two delicious sauces, kalbi and kochujang aioli.

Yes, we took notes for a change.

The sliders cost $20, and were undeniably delectable. Millennial translation: They’re amazeballs.

Impossible Burger

We’re nominating the Impossible Burger as the best veggie burger in Vegas, emphasis on “nom.”

While Impossible Burgers are, indeed, tasty, we can’t say they’re indistinguishable from beef hamburgers. Veggie burgers still haven’t managed to replicate the mouth feel of their meaty counterparts, but Impossible Burgers are surprisingly close.

The other two dishes using Impossible Burger meat are the Thai Crispy Rice Cups (made with mint, cilantro, chili, onion, ginger and peanuts) and Ma Po Tofu (a take on meatballs, with chili paste, shiitake mushrooms and green onion).

While you’re devouring your Impossible Burgers, make sure to try one of our all-time favorite panty-dropper cocktails, the Asian Pear.

Andrea's Encore Asian Pear

Bonus: The Asian Pear is meat-free.

If you’re visiting Andrea’s solo, have no fear. We had our Impossible Burgers while seated at the bar.

The Impossible Burger is that rare creature, so to speak, that lives up to the hype.

Andrea's Encore

Andrea’s is a little fancy, so, please, no lederhosen.

Die-hard meat eaters may ultimately prefer a traditional burger to the Impossible Burger at Andrea’s, but there’s a lot to be said for having a viable alternative to meat, especially if one is toying with the idea of cutting back on meat, or even going whole hog vegan or vegetarian.

Yes, we see what we did there, although we’re not entirely sure what.

Encore Las Vegas

What, you thought we’d miss an opportunity to share a gratuitous photo of Encore? Do you know this blog at all?

The bottom line is this: Impossible Burgers don’t feel like a compromise or sacrifice. Whether you’d like to save a cow or possibly save the planet, meat-free food is inherently more appealing because it’s also free of guilt.

If you try an Impossible Burger, let us know what you think. Visit Encore’s Web site to learn more.

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