10 Foodie Favorites; Da Vinci Visits Venetian; Linq Host AMC Music Festival





10 best Las Vegas spots for foodies

David McKee, Special  USA TODAY


1) Scarpetta: Scarpetta means “Little Shoe” in Italian, but in Vegas, it means chef Scott Conant exercising his fondness for seasonally-based Mediterranean cuisine. Even something as simple as spaghetti and basil bears the master’s touch. For the more adventurous palate, there is the duck and foie gras ravioli (there are vegetarian versions of almost all of Conant’s signature dishes). A select few tables have a bird’s-eye view of the Bellagio fountains, making this the ideal restaurant for romance.

2) Heritage Steak: Open-flame cooking, whether from wood fires or charcoal, is chef Tom Colicchio’s point of honor at this new eatery. Similarly, he eschews meat tainted with antibiotics, the kind of principle that earned Heritage Steak “Restaurant of the Year” honors in 2013 from Desert Companion magazine. Start with the wood-roasted onion soup and finish with the ricotta corn fritters or blueberries over sweet corn ice cream and you can’t go far wrong, especially with 14 whiskies from which to choose.

3) Poppy Den: Modern versions of authentic Chinese fare, with some Korean cooking thrown in for good measure, makes Angelo Sosa’s Poppy Den a jewel amongst Las Vegas’ Asian restaurants. Sosa introduces diners to flavors that awaken their taste buds, thanks to his extensive work and travels in Asia. The former Top Chef contestant who previously lived in New York is often on hand to discuss his dishes with diners. You’ll want to sample a bit of everything on the menu, but simply must not leave before trying the best Peking duck in Vegas.

4) La Cave: Dining is at its best when it’s convivial, and at this restaurant by Billy DeMarco, there’s never a long face. Fashioned in the design of a wine cellar, you’re surrounded by artful bottle displays in the main dining room, but the most deluxe dining experience here is on the patio, which overlooks the Wynn pool and offers such a relaxed feel, you won’t want to depart. The tapas-style menu lets you sample as much of DeMarco’s brilliant cuisine as you can handle; don’t miss the decadent butler-style brunch on Sundays.

5) Kumi: Superstar snowboarder-turned-chef Akira Back helms one of the hottest new restaurants in town made to feel like you’re stepping into a Japanese living room. You can feel the buzz when you step down into the dining room, and in addition to glorious selections of sushi, sashimi and modern Japanese dishes, the service is just as unforgettable. As with all LIGHT Group restaurants, the drinks are just as much a part of the meal as the food, and Kumi is no exception.

6) Mon Ami Gabi: When people think of Paris Las Vegas, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant automatically comes to mind, but if you bypass this French bistro, you’ll be remiss. That’s because no matter if you’re looking for a casual dinner in the front dining room, some people-watching on the Strip or a more formal dinner by low light, you can find them all here. The modern French cooking is rooted in classical French technique; the restaurant has one of the best wine lists we’ve found in town. And the seafood tower is decadent beyond any means it’s got a right to.

7) Sinatra: The style of the Rat Pack ringleader meets the brilliance of chef Theo Schoenegger’s cooking at this swank spot we can envision the singers of the ’60s making their hangout. The jewel-box dining room is decorated in bright greens and is as lively as the cuisine; the drinks are unforgettable as well – you’ll want more than one of the addictive Blackberry Smash. When the weather’s balmy, the patio makes dining here even more of an unforgettable affair.

8) Todd English’s Olives: There are a number of restaurants that overlook the Bellagio Fountains, but none put you in the action as much as this Mediterranean-inspired offering by Todd English. That’s not to say, however, that the water show overshadows the cuisine – on the contrary, it’s just the finishing course to a divine meal of pasta, flatbreads or meat dishes done in English’s trademark touch.

9) Shibuya: With graffiti-inspired walls and a fast-paced feel, the bar at this stunning Japanese restaurant feels like modern-day Tokyo. On the flip side, the dining room is refined and comfortable, conducive to a longer dining experience. No matter which you choose, you’ll want to revel in the stunning sushi and creations topped with caviar – the decadent touch is one of this restaurant’s most appealing draws.

10) Truk-N-Yaki: Kimchi with sirloin, chicken and fried rice, your meal made into an Asian “burrito” – we love the innovation of this Asian-meets-American food truck. Plus, the portions are so big, you’ll get at least two meals out of them.


da vinci


Da Vinci does Vegas with visionary inventions at the Venetian

by Aleza Freeman www.blog.vegas.com

To say that Leonardo da Vinci was ahead of his time is the understatement of the century — well, five centuries really. The visionary Renaissance artist and inventor was so forward thinking and well-traveled back in the 16th Century, one can’t help but wonder what he would think of a progressive town like Las Vegas.

Da Vinci does Vegas at the Venetian.

Would his prophetic concepts find a use in a crazy tourist town, based on gambling, partying and spectacle?

We’d like to think so.

Da Vinci The Exhibition, currently on display in the Imagine Exhibitions Gallery at the Venetian, showcases the breadth of the Italian genius’ creations including his anatomical studies, his famous paintings and his scientific and mechanical drawings.

“The exhibit provides an overview of Leonardo da Vinci’s work,” said Tom Zaller, president and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions. “When you finish you’re going to wonder, ‘What didn’t this guy do?’”

Visitors will see more than 20 fine art studies of paintings such as Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Portrait of a Young Man and Virgin of the Rocks, as well as 65 life-size replicas of his inventions.

Here’s a look at how some of those inventions might translate into the Vegas experience.

The ultimate Vegas selfie

Oh Leo, you social networking maven.

Las Vegas was named the 20th most selfiest city in the world by TIME this week. Well, it’s a little known fact that da Vinci invented the ultimate selfie experience — an octagonal box, surrounded on the inside by mirrors on every wall.  Sure you could snap your selfie by the Welcome to Las Vegas sign or holding a yardlong margarita on Fremont Street, but why not take your narcissism to the next level? Post a multi-angled selfie of yourself in Vegas that will dazzle and perplex your Facebook friends for hours.

While this box was actually created to provide the artist with a better perspective on his subjects, leave it to those of us in the modern era to find a more self-centered use.

Knowing da Vinci’s love for machines and scientific advancement, we personally think he’d be proud. We can totally see Leo posing with his iPhone now, duck face and all.

The original Sigma Derby

And they’re off …

If you haven’t played the coin-operated Sigma Derby in a Las Vegas casino, you haven’t really lived. Betting on those little electro-mechanical horses as they go galloping around a track will make you feel like a million bucks — and it only costs a quarter at resorts like D Las Vegas.

The popular old-school Las Vegas casino game was introduced in 1985. But Leo laid the groundwork back in the 16th century with his Scythe Chariot, a twist on the traditional Roman chariot of his time.

With room for up to 10 players, Sigma Derby can be quite cut-throat depending upon your competitive nature. Leo’s invention, on the other hand, could literally cut your throat. His deadly combat instrument had rotating blades operated by an axle-driven transmission system that would slice anyone in their path.

Sounds like a gambling man to us.

The first roulette wheel

Casino chips not included.

Round and round and round it goes. Where it’ll land nobody knows!

A game of pure chance, roulette is a staple in Vegas casinos, offering players a variety of betting options.

This early ball bearing rotating wheel in the da Vinci exhibit reminded us of a colorless, numberless, early version of the classic American or European roulette game (the Russian kind is totally different).

Ball bearings were designed to reduce friction between two adjacent moving parts and reduce the wear and tear caused by friction, thereby increasing the speed of the mechanism’s movement. While the first known discovery of a device that used ball bearings was during the time of the Roman empire, Leo invented the ball bearing as we know it today: Using balls, rollers and lubricating oil (which sounds a bit like a completely different kind of Vegas game).

The foosball table

Battle of the Artists: Foosball Edition.

Leave it to Leo, the ultimate bachelor, to lay the groundwork for the first foosball table. We can just see him now teaming up with his bros against his Renaissance rival Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni for Battle of the Artists: Foosball Edition.

When did these guys find the time?

A popular bar game sometimes played at Vegas bachelor parties, foosball or table football was actually invented in 1921.

This interactive replica of Leo’s vision was not accompanied by a descriptor card, so we’re not entirely sure what it was really supposed to do.

Da Vinci The Exhibition runs Sundays through Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. (until 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) at the Venetian. Tickets are $27.50.



rascal flats

Another first for The Linq: The ACM music festival

by Nicole Lucht


The ACM Party for a Cause Festival marks the first major event offering by The Linq, an open-air shopping and entertainment district, and is expected to draw tens of thousands of country music fans April 4 and 5 to the Las Vegas Strip.

The two-day festival, headlined by country music stars Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban, is planned for The Linq’s event space between its valet and Koval Lane.

“Fans nationwide plan their vacations around ACM events, and they will be blown away by The Linq and all that Caesars has put into the property,” said Academy of Country Music CEO Bob Romeo in a statement. “We’re privileged to be the first event in this very special space.” Friday’s lineup also includes Will Hoge, Charlie Worsham, Chase Rice, Danielle Bradbery, Justin Moore and Florida Georgia Line.

On Saturday, the lineup includes Austin Webb, Leah Turner, Jon Pardi, Max Impact, Joel Crouse, Dan + Shay, Tyler Farr, American Young, Natalie Stovall and The Drive, The Swan Brothers, Love and Theft, Parmalee, Brett Eldredge, Kip Moore and Lee Brice.

The ACM New Artist of the Year nominees will be announced Saturday night at the festival.

Some 20,000 people are expected to attend the ACM music festival, The Linq vice president Jon Gray told Vegas.com.

“It will be a really incredible show,” Gray said.

Although music is the main draw to the festival, it also offers many activities, including a bow hunting demonstration with country singers Luke Bryan and Justin Moore  at 10 a.m. Saturday just outside the gates; a fun zone that includes a mechanical bull and bungee jumping; an expo marketplace; a beer garden and food trucks; a Jack Daniel’s experience that offers “tours” of the whiskey’s home of Lynchburg, Tenn., and the distillery for those age 21 and older; and the Dodge monster truck, the “Raminator.”

Friday’s lineup benefits Outnumber Hunger, a charity that helps Feeding America provide meals for community food banks. Attendees will have the chance to donate to the cause at special activities on festival grounds.

Saturday’s lineup benefits Folds of Honor, the Navy Seal Foundation, Nellis AFB Force Support Squadron, Team Rubicon and Wounded Warrior Project.

The festival will be located just east of The Linq and the High Roller observation wheel, on the corner of Koval Lane and Winnick Avenue.

Gates are open 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and noon to 2 a.m. Saturday. Tickets start at $73.50.



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