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Vegas Dining With New York Attitude

April 14, 2008 By: Glenn Haussman Travel Agent

By now it’s common knowledge that Las Vegas is one of the greatest eating
cities in the world. However, what isn’t as widely known is that The Strip is
home to numerous restaurants that first met success in New York City.

MGM Grand's Fiamma dining room

MGM Grand's Fiamma dining room.

More and more, restaurateurs that have proven concepts that
work in the Big Apple are realizing that opening up another outlet in Las Vegas is a great way
to ensure success. It’s a big trend in SinCity
dining and one that’s sure to pick up speed in the future.

Here are some of our favorite East Coast gone West Coast
dining picks.

Mesa Grill

A Fifth Avenue
classic since 1991, Bobby Flay’s ubiquitous Mesa Grill was imported to Las Vegas in 2004 and features many of the same elements
that brought this restaurant acclaim in New
. Located at Caesars
, Mesa Grill is Flay’s first foray outside New York City and focuses
on southwestern flavors and textures. It’s right off the casino floor in the
heart of the action.

What was most interesting to us was how some of these
dishes, which were first introduced 17 years ago in New York, still feel relevant and fresh
today. Keep in mind how much more sophisticated America’s tastes have become since
Flay’s star rose with the advent of the Food Network. And, it’s even more
impressive how ahead of the pack he was with these creations. Dishes such as
Tiger Shrimp and Roasted Garlic Corn Tamale with Corn-Cilantro Sauce; the Blue
Corn Pancake with Barbecued Duck and Habanero Chile Sauce; and the New Mexican
Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon-Ancho Chile Sauce and Sweet Potato
Tamale with Crushed Pecan Butter are all triumphs in combining seemingly
disparate elements into a seamless multi-layered flavor experience. Be sure not to miss the chili!

Bobby Flay at Mesa Grill

Bobby Flay: Mastermind behind the Mesa Grill in Las Vegas.

Save room for dessert too. Each one is an unforgettable spin
on a classic, such as the Espresso-Pine Nut-Toffee Ice Cream Sandwich with Milk
Chocolate Wafers and Warm Toffee Sauce. Plus, there’s an extensive tequila menu
focusing on premium and ultra premium varietals, as well as an extensive wine

Mesa Grill Caesars Palace offers lunch on
Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and Saturday/Sunday brunch from
10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dinner is served seven nights a week from 5 p.m. until 11
p.m. For reservations or for more
information, visit,
or call 702-731-7731.

Fiamma Trattoria

Located at the MGM Grand’s Studio Walk, Fiamma is an updated
spin on its New York
location. A new menu and a new chef, Carlos Buscaglia, are the stars here.
Focusing on regional Italian specialties, Fiamma’s Italian food is light and
delicate, leaving you satisfied and not stuffed.

The relaxed menu complements the contemporary design of the
space, which features custom bamboo “nest” lighting, “woven towers” and a “wave
wall.” The gnocci is a major accomplishment and prepared with sautéed lobster,
baby portobellos, roasted leeks and a black truffle crema. Also try the Short
Rib Ravioli with Barbera Wine and Imported Pecorino Romano or the Seared Diver
Sea Scallops with Wild Mushrooms and a Smoked Bacon Potato Purée. The menu
changes seasonally, so new items are regularly introduced, while others are

There is also a nice
selection of wines and a great handcrafted cocktail menu that uses a variety of
ingredients, such as muddled fruits and fresh juices. Desserts too are not to
be missed. One “must try,” created by Executive Pastry Chef Elizabeth Katz, is
the crispy Amaretti and Ricotta Beignets served with a trio of scrumptious
dipping sauces. They are perfectly crisped on the outside while soft and
delicate on the inside.

For more information, visit,
or call 702-891-7600. Fiamma is open Sunday - Thursday, 5:30 p.m to 10:00 p.m.
and Friday & Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.


Sure it has barbecue prepared in the Kansas
, but when RUB BBQ opened in New York City in 2005 it was an instant hit.
RUB, which stands for Righteous Urban Barbecue, is now open at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. Don’t let its New York pedigree fool you, this is some of
the best barbecue around and a definite must for any passing barbecue fan or
wizened aficionado.

RUB BBQ features standard dishes, such as Barbequed Ribs
prepared St. Louis-style, Barbequed Sausage and Pastrami. They’re all prepared
the way barbecue should be, slow-cooked over wood in pits for 14 hours. Specialty
menu items include Burnt Ends, smoked twice until crispy and lightly sauced;
Szechwan Smoked Duck; and The Taste of the Baron, which includes a tasting of
beef, pork, ham, pastrami, turkey, chicken and sausage, topped off with a
quarter-rack of ribs. We must suggest the baked beans, which might be the best
we’ve ever had. Be warned however, because of the extended prep time, certain
selections may run out. The Burnt Ends, which are particularly popular and
extremely delicious, is one item that’s known to vanish. So be sure to suggest
that your clients get there early.

Recipes are from Executive Chef Paul Kirk, who has won more
than 400 awards, including champion of the American Royal Open (the largest
barbecue competition in the world) and seven World Barbecue Championships.

For more information, check out or call 866-746-7671.
It’s open Monday – Tuesday, 4 p.m. to 11p.m. and Wednesday – Sunday from 11a.m.
to 2a.m. There is also live music on the weekends. Call for a schedule.

BLT Burger

While chef Laurent Tourondel has made his name on the east
coast creating a variety of concepts, he chose to bring this temple of comfort
food to the Mirage. Opening later
this spring, the extremely casual and comfortable restaurant is all about the
burger, fries and shakes.

But what makes Tourondel’s style so approachable is his lack
of pretention. Although he is a classically trained French chef, Tourondel is
not afraid to deliver extremely tasty fresh food designed for a mainstream
palate. BLT Burger is about taking traditional foods and giving them a nudge in
a new direction. So aside from the traditional hamburger made from sirloin,
short rib, chuck or brisket, there are also Kobe, lamb and Ahi tuna burgers. Of course,
there are the ubiquitous onion rings and French fries (waffle-cut, sweet potato
and chili cheese). Anything topped with jalapeños and cheese is our choice.
Even milkshakes get a new spin. After sampling the classics, try a “Spiked
Milkshake,” such as Grandma’s Treat made with Maker’s Mark, caramel syrup and
vanilla ice cream.

Expect an energetic atmosphere, since the restaurant space
is being designed to accommodate a bank of flat-screen TVs and will feature a
rock ’n’ roll soundtrack as well as an illuminated bar. This is a great place for a late night bite.
For more information, check out
or call 702-791-7111.

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