Martorano’s closed, sans fanfare, on Sep. 26, 2021.
That’s the way the meatball bounces.
Naturally, there was drama! Allegedly. It’s Vegas, after all.
Our sources say Caesars Entertainment reviewed the partnership with Martorano’s, as it’s done with all its restaurant partners following a merger with Eldorando Resorts, and decided it wasn’t in the cards for the restaurant to stay.
Caesars Entertainment apparently asked Martorano’s to operate until the end of the year, but ownership (Steve Martorano) reportedly told Caesars where it could stick its offer, a place described as having “very little sunlight.”
It was expected Martorano’s would stay open through the end of October, but clearly the relationship went south and Martorano’s was out.
It’s a shame, as Martorano’s was in the Caesars Entertainment family for many years. It originally opened, as Cafe Martorano, at Rio in 2007. It relocated to Paris in October 2014.
A mutual friend says Steve Martorano is focusing on locations closer to home, and it’s not expected another Martorano’s will pop up in Las Vegas.
So many memories. And bead injuries.
The permanent closure of Martorano’s is part of a bigger restaurant shake-up at Paris.
Buca di Beppo and Tequila Taqueria also closed, with no announcements about what, if anything, will replace them. Nobu also closed, but that was a temporary location to begin with (as Virgin was overhauled).
The former Martorano’s space is getting a makeover and we’re told will have a new Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg joint venture. Permit filings have already confirmed the Martha Stewart part.
Martorano’s had a lot of fans, but in Vegas, one must not get emotionally attached to anything.
The closure of Martorano’s was a one-two punch as we also shared Rao’s will close across the way at Caesars Palace.
We’ve heard the Rao’s space will be the new home of a Peter Luger Steak House.
Things move fast in Vegas. That’s why you have us. Well, that and 69 jokes. But mostly that first thing.
It gives us immense joy when there’s something new to rave about in Las Vegas. A new restaurant at Cosmo, Superfrico, is that.
The folks at Spiegelworld have a track record of success with shows (“Absinthe,” “Opium,” “Atomic Saloon”), now their Superfrico Italian restaurant is set to be one of the most buzzed-about restaurants in Sin City.
Superfrico is more than just great Italian food, it’s an experience, and not in a cringy, contrived way. The other kind. You may not know what we’re talking about, because they don’t really exist. They do now.
Superfrico is satisfying on every level, including levels you might never even know about unless you read, ahem, certain Las Vegas blogs. You are wise beyond your years.
Superfrico is a feast for the senses, including some you didn’t realize you have.
Superfrico is the brainchild of Spiegelworld’s owner, Ross Mollison. Typically, we wouldn’t care whose brainchild a restaurant is, but Superfrico has a lot of Mollison in it.
If Mollison is involved, you know you’re going to get something offbeat, fun (for grown-ups) and utterly unique.
Ross Mollison calls himself “Empresario Extraordinaire,” yet we like him, anyway.
Gird your loins, let’s go to Superfrico.
Some housekeeping first. Superfrico is pronounced “super-FREAK-oh.”
“Frico” is an Italian word for a traditional Friulian cheese dish where the cheese is shredded and pan fried, making it crispy and delicious. Frico is that crispy cheese you’ll find on the crust of the top-notch pizzas at Superfrico.
If you’re not drooling, you may be a cyborg.
On the Italian restaurant scale, Superfrico isn’t as fancy as a ristorante, or as casual as an osteria. It’s right in the middle, a trattoria.
The dress code (there isn’t one) can best be described as “Gents, put on pants if you have time.”
Oh, and the pants thing doesn’t always apply to the entertainers. Fair warning.
Superfrico is in the Cosmopolitan’s former Rose.Rabbit.Lie. space, and adjoins the “Opium” theater. More about “Opium” later. A lot more.
The venue has been retooled to the tune of millions of dollars, but those who visited Rose.Rabbit.Lie. will recognize the general layout.
The venue now has a main dining room and several bars, including a sort of hidden Ski Lodge lounge that could be its own stand-alone speakeasy. It was inspired by Mollison’s favorite bar in Japan, Bar Gyu, also known as the Fridge Door Bar.
The Ski Lodge has a ton of character in a place with a lot of characters. Including, apparently, Waldo.
The entire venue is adorned with art. Mollison says the art cost in the neighborhood of $30 million, and most of it has a story behind it. Here’s more.
We asked Mollison why he spent so much on art, and he said it’s his son’s inheritance.
Here’s one of those things you might not notice unless you’re reading this blog: You’ll find penguins everywhere at Superfrico. It’s on the napkins, signs, menus and there are ice cubes with penguins on them as well (see below). The penguin represents Mollison’s son. Now you know.
Oh, and another bit of housekeeping: Superfrico is not a supper club. It’s not Delilah at Wynn or Mayfair at Bellagio.
There’s occasional entertainment in the form of variety performers from “Opium,” but it’s brief and not disruptive to the dining experience. It’s flair.
There’s also a DJ, but we barely noticed. The noise volume increases as the evening goes on, but that’s mainly because the restaurant gets busier, so the music has to be louder to hear it.
As with everything in Las Vegas, Superfrico is about 10 percent too loud for our liking, but Mollison says they’re still looking for the right balance between energy and being able to hold a conversation. The noblest of endeavors, in our humble opinion.
But enough about the vibe, let’s dive into the menu, because it’s the star of the show at Superfrico. The cocktails resent that last sentence, but they’re divas.
Like so many things at Superfrico, the menus involve some backstory. At first glance, the menu names make no sense at all: Penelope Cruz, Frank Skinner, Calvin Klein. The Ski Lodge menu says Tommy Tucker.
There’s nothing random at Superfrico. Sorting it out is part of the fun.
This is where it’s useful to know Ross Mollison is Australian. Australian’s have a love of rhyming slang.
Penelope Cruz? Booze. Calvin Klein? Wine. Frank Skinner? Dinner. Tommy Tucker? Supper.
Playful and silly and surprising and weird. At Superfrico, you’re either onboard or you’re not. And even if you’re not, you’re still going to have an unforgettable time.
The menu is described as “Italian American Psychedelic.” So, Italian.
Just a couple of dishes in and we knew we’d found a new favorite restaurant at Cosmopolitan.
We started with fried mozzarella, sort our wheelhouse.
“Pace yourself” isn’t a very Las Vegas thing to recommend, but we don’t live by society’s rules. Pace yourself.
The pizzas are a strong offering a Superfrico, and we even loved one we never would’ve ordered without Ross Mollison forcing us to try it. We visited Superfrico twice, dining once with Mollison and a second time on our own. Service levels tend to be better when the boss is in the place, but service was excellent during both visits.
The Pistachio Mortadella pizza has pistachio pesto, house mozzarella, mortadella, house stracciatella, parmigiano reggiano and pistachio. We literally recognize almost none of those
words, yet this pizza was fantastic, even with mushy stuff on top.
Our enjoyment of this pizza was one of the biggest surprises during an evening full of surprises.
One of the great things about the pizza at Superfrico is you can order it at your seat during “Opium.”
That means even if you’re not seeing “Opium” (if you don’t, you’re missing out), you can still get your frico on.
Seats in the theater have these little tables equipped with QR codes. They let you order and also tell servers where to deliver your food.
Food is also available at the various bars at Superfrico, a big plus for solo diners. This is pretty much going to be a go-to spot at Cosmo for those who’d like a quick pizza or cocktail or three. Sorry, Secret Pizza, this is next level pie.
Naturally, we had to try the chicken parm. We’re relieved to report it’s one of the best we’ve had in Las Vegas.
Told you to pace yourself. Do as we say, not as we do.
You’ll want to save room for the Baked Alaska.
Baked Alaska is also known as Bombe Alaska, and this baked Alaska is definitely the bombe.
Props to Executive Chef Mitch Emge and his team for making Superfrico a winner right out of the gate. Superfrico got an assist on its pizzas by Anthony Falco, billed as an “international pizza consultant.” See the chef in action.
Superfrico’s cocktail program is as pleasing as the food, and we’ll just cut to the chase by saying try a cocktail called The Cosmonaut of Las Vegas. It’s a take on a classic Cosmo (and a
play on the name of the hotel, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas), and it’s currently on our very short list of “Things We Like to Drink That Aren’t Captain Morgan and Diet.”
The other is the black cherry lemondrop martini at Triple George. Yeah, we like our drinks sweet because we’re a recessive supertaster. Long story.
Anyway, the Cosmonaut!
Bonus points for the adorable garnish.
There are other drinks people were raving about, but we tend to find something we like and do that until our lips are forcibly removed from the glass.
For the liquor nerds, we should mention the Superfrico cocktail program is from James Beard Award-winning hooch whiz Leo Robitschek.
Ross Mollison went on and on about this dirty martini. Let us know what you think.
As mentioned, throughout dinner, there are moments of odd and amazing, courtesy of variety performers.
It’s just the right amount of entertainment, and the acts last 2-3 minutes, about every 20 minutes. These performers are so talented, yet make what they do look so easy.
Which leads us to “Opium.”
“Opium” was a bit of a mess when it opened in 2018, honestly. We liked it, but didn’t love it. The jokes were a lot more miss than hit, there was too much emphasis on the sci-fi characters and “story” and the variety acts hadn’t quite gelled yet.
Well, that’s not “Opium” anymore.
The bawdy humor (the show’s main character is named Captain Kunton) and mesmerizing variety acts make “Opium” as good, if not better (the audacity!), than “Absinthe,” the previously-undisputed best show in Las Vegas.
If “interactive” isn’t your thing, don’t sit in the front row.
“Opium” just reopened on Sep. 24, 2021, the last of the Spiegelworld shows to do so. It was worth the wait.
Some of the acts in “Opium” haven’t made it back yet. The tennis racket contortionist guy, the hula hoop guy, the guy that may not be a guy. They’ve all had visa issues due to the pandemic.
The bubble guy and the balloon lady are two of our favorites. Notice we’re sharing a photo of the lady.
The current mix of variety acts is fantastic, however, in every sense of the word, including “fanciful” and “imaginative.”
Here are some highlights from “Opium.”
Related and important: It’s worth noting Superfrico and “Opium” aren’t like many venues that prohibit photos and video. Here, it’s welcome and encouraged.
Rear Admiral Todd, the sword-swallower, saw us taking a photo, wasn’t even mad.
Dream Hotel Group announced plans for a hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip back in 2000.
Now, the 19-story, 526-room hotel has been approved by County officials despite being upwards of a dozen feet from the airport.
Dream Las Vegas will be located between the Pinball Hall of Fame and next to the Harley-Davidson dealership, near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
Small, sexy and a stone’s throw from the airport. Please, not literally. Unless you’ve always wanted a visit from serious guys in dark glasses representing various federal law enforcement agencies.
Dream’s approval wasn’t without its detractors on the County Commission. Singular, actually. Just one Clark County Commissioner voted against the project, Ross Miller.
Most of the concerns were related to what’s known in the safety and security industry as “Things That Could Go Seriously Bad.” You know, the kind of things popular with dipshits, including illegal drone flying, shootings, lasers that could give pilots “flash blindness” and Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device attacks.
Undeterred by the concerns voiced by experts at Homeland Security, the FBI, Transportation Security Administration and Secret Service, the folks at Dream say they’ll break ground in mid-2022.
Developers say Dream Las Vegas would open in late 2024.
Dream Las Vegas is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $500 million.
This angle makes Dream look a lot more svelte. This one goes on Instagram.
Personally, we think they’re nuts. A stand-alone (translation: no database) boutique hotel on the Las Vegas Strip has “What were they thinking?” written all over it.
Given all the security concerns, who’s going to insure this place?
During construction of the new Pinball Hall of Fame, the assessor botched marking the boundary of the parcel. When the $10 million structure was completed, owners realized the building extended eight feet too far south, onto the parcel slated for Dream Las Vegas.
This is the Dream site next to the Pinball Hall of Fame. Slightly less sexy than the renderings, but give it time.
The matter remains unresolved, but we’re hopeful Dream Las Vegas will do the right thing for the Pinball Hall of Fame, a beloved Las Vegas nonprofit.
We like shiny, new things, so we’d love to see Dream Las Vegas move forward.
Developers say steps are being taken to deter any potential asshattery, and our appetite for Dream is whet!
It took a minute, but we finally got to make a “whet Dream” joke.
Reminder: It’s consistency, not predictability. Big difference.
Enigmatic evil genius bajillionaire Elon Musk’s Boring Company has been given approval for an underground transportation system that could change how people get around Las Vegas forever.
Clark County officials gave a big thumbs up for the system that will involve 29 miles of tunnels, up to 51 stations and a shit-ton of Teslas.
The best part is Boring Company is paying for pretty much the whole shebang, excluding certain stations (casinos will foot the bill for those). Three word: No. Taxpayer. Dollars.
Strip on your gull wings, this project’s about to take off.
It seems like only yesterday we were breaking the news Elon Musk had his sights set on Las Vegas. It’s not bragging if it’s true.
Far from being a pipe dream, the Tesla tunnel system is already in action at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and it’s awesome.
Unlike the trainwreck that was the Las Vegas Monorail (which is going to be dismantled), this new system will take people places they actually want to go, like Allegiant Stadium, McCarran airport and downtown.
Oh, and it’s fun as hell.
Skeptics, of course, have been spewing their jibber-jabber since the day the tunnel system was announced. They’re still jabbering.
We don’t care. The critics of this project are clueless, here’s why.
Yes, it’s Teslas in tunnels. But with flair!
This is the underground station at the Convention Center. Stations at casinos will be at street level.
As for the timeline of Elon Musk’s baby, it’s expected between five and 10 stations will come online within the first six months of construction.
Resorts World and Wynn are likely to see their stations done first.
Between 15 and 20 stations will be added each year until the system is complete.
As mentioned, it seems likely not all of the 51 “proposed” stations will be built, as the map shows a couple of destinations that don’t actually exist, at least not yet. They include Wynn West (unlikely to ever happen) and Fontainebleau (shrug).
Boring is great at tunneling, not spectacular at font choice.
Boring says the system could have a capacity of 57,000 riders an hour.
The ticket prices being quoted so far are awesome, even compared to rideshare. Yes, the Boring system is actually rideshare, but with no red lights!
A ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center will take four minutes and cost $6. Gird your loins, taxis.
It’s worth noting while resort, construction and union reps have spoken in support of the project, taxi companies and rideshare reps have been awfully quiet, or what people used to call “mum” back in the 1940s.
The plan is for the Vegas Loop to eventually use self-driving vehicles, but that’s still in the works.
While we’re a big fan of this PR-friendly project, that doesn’t mean we also don’t also think a lot can happen between planning and completion. Hey, we’ve been on dates.
This project is ambitious, and while construction of the Las Vegas Convention Center shuttle went off without a hitch, that tunnel was .8 miles.
There’s a lot of stuff (yes, that’s the engineering term) under the Las Vegas Strip, so there could be some challenges ahead.
Even if construction goes perfectly, we’re still talking about cars in tunnels. It’s not really mass transit, and shouldn’t be billed as such. How much traffic it’s going to alleviate remains to be seen.
In the meantime, props to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Clark County, Elon Musk and Boring Co. for getting the project this far.
The whole concept is as mind-boggling and flashy as Las Vegas itself.
It’s been a year-and-a-half, but the acclaimed Le Cirque restaurant will reopen at Bellagio.
The date: Oct. 28, 2021.
You know it’s a big deal because we made the reopening date its own paragraph.
“Cirque” is a French word meaning “we can’t afford it.”
Le Cirque fans will be relieved by this news, as there was a lot of chatter among industry insiders the restaurant wouldn’t be back after the pandemic. Don’t get mad. Just because someone’s an insider doesn’t mean they’re psychic.
Le Cirque has been at Bellagio for more than two decades, since the place opened in 1998, in fact.
The original Le Cirque was in New York City, but our version is better because, well, Las Vegas. And, also, the original closed (sorry, “currently relocating”) in 2018.
Chef Dameon Evers will be at the helm for the reopening of Le Cirque at Bellagio.
Evers clearly knows his stuff (sorry about the complicated culinary jargon).
Evers honed his skills at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Beverly Hills, Gordon Ramsay’s former spot in West Hollywood and Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak.
The chef also earned a Michelin star as executive chef at Angler Restaurant in L.A. This makes us think Chef Dameon Evers has exceptional wet-weather grip and excellent steering response, but this is unconfirmed.
We, too, aren’t entirely sure about the definition of “perennial,” but these are the hazards of cutting and pasting from news releases.
Fun fact: About 81% of chef photos involve arm-crossing. The rest are holding a knife or sitting on a backwards chair. It’s the law.
Why did it take Le Cirque so long to reopen? Well, if this place is anything like other restaurants in town, it has a lot to do with unions and staffing.
Even as demand has increased, there’s still a big challenge finding staff. Yes, even at the high-paying fancy places.
Kitchen cooks are even more prized than lap dances or hot dice rolls in Las Vegas at the moment.
We’d love to give you our review of Le Cirque, but that would involve us having visited a French restaurant at some point, and that seems extraordinarily unlikely due to the fact they serve snails and the enlarged livers of waterfowl.
Still, some people are into that kind of thing.
Le Cirque is back at Bellagio starting Oct. 28, 2021.
You know that’s a big deal because we just repeated the reopening date we already mentioned earlier in this story. We know how you like to skim.