It was a hot year for restaurant debuts in Las Vegas. Most of the major movement happened off the Strip and downtown while, in the resort corridor, new spots were centered within retail experiences.
Regardless of location, there are hundreds of new bites to try. These are some of our favorites.
Sixth + Mill Ristorante, Pizzeria and Bar at The Venetian Resort Las Vegas
A Southern California transplant, this casual-chic pizzeria brings its surprising and inventive menu of Italian staples to the Grand Canal Shoppes of this Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star resort.
The Sin City version of downtown L.A.’s Neapolitan-style restaurant serves up wood-fired pizzas and handmade pastas that are bound to transport your taste buds to Southern Italy. Start with a vegetable-forward dish such as melanzana (a tomato-rich eggplant parmigiana) or u’vroccolo (breaded cauliflower with a decadent parmigiano sauce) before transitioning to pizzas. Satisfy everyone with a red sauce option (the Diavolina features mozzarella and spicy salame) and a white pie (the Pat is packed with delicate, creamy fior di latte cheese, potatoes, pancetta and pecorino).
For pasta, the traditional hard durum wheat cacio e pepe (an Italian version of macaroni and cheese) is not to be missed as an interlude until the proteins arrive. Outside classic steak and veal options, you’ll find pleasing plates like shrimp in a fragrant sauce of chili, garlic, lemon and white wine; and polpette, beef and pork meatballs.
Water Grill at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
This Southern California seafood mainstay recently opened in the space that was occupied by Wolfgang Puck’s Spago for more than two decades. The menu is updated twice daily to showcase seasonal selections like Maryland soft-shell crabs, king salmon from the Columbia River, Santa Barbara spot prawns and at least 16 varieties of oysters.
Start with a Rosewood cocktail (gin, limoncello, fresh lime, rosemary and tonic), then progress to a shellfish tower adorned with an assortment of clams, scallops, urchin, lobster, mussels, shrimp and oysters. Other must-try items include the wild Alaskan halibut with chorizo and clams, and the firm and sweet Nantucket Bay scallop crudo. Non-seafood eaters can indulge in a variety of fresh salads and half a dozen prime cuts of meat. And because most of what you will eat here comes in alive, the large salt-water tanks at the front of the exhibition kitchen offer a can’t-miss photo opportunity.
Shark and Greene St. Kitchen at Palms Casino Resort
Shark, the new outlet from celebrity chef Bobby Flay, is all about the bounty of the sea. The restaurant marks the Food Network personality’s first foray into raw fish, though he keeps his signature style by incorporating ingredients (especially chiles) from Mexico, South America and the Mediterranean.
Top menu choices include perfectly grilled octopus with clementine, gooseberries, bacon and Marcona almonds; salmon sashimi with hot smoked chile dressing and cucumber basil relish; scrambled eggs decorated with sea urchin, chive pesto and spicy tomato toast; and fried chicken with toasted red chiles and rocoto pepper honey.
For dessert, the delightfully purple ube (a yam) cheesecake with exotic fruit salsa is a must-order, as are the Latin-inspired cocktails.
The eclectic space next to Shark, Greene St. Kitchen is as much art gallery as it is restaurant. Enter through a “speakeasy” vintage arcade and follow the eight-bit, video-inspired tiled floor through a secret vending machine door. The entryway of the venue resembles a New York City subway tunnel with graffiti by artist CES.
Once inside, you’ll find Las Vegas’ first permanent work by internationally renowned Banksy (Smiley Coppers Panel I) among other original commissions by street artists like Kenny Scharf, Cleon Peterson and photographer Martha Cooper.
Executive chef Joe Zanelli (formerly of Four-Star Wynn Las Vegas) created a menu with surprising and exciting items to accent the visually rich environment. Favorites include Legs and Eggs (butter-poached king crab legs, caviar, melted leeks and roasted garlic butter), a 24-ounce Tajima rib eye that is ideal for sharing and Clique Hospitality’s famous tuna pizza with black garlic soy aioli, pickled pearl onions and white truffle.
Chef/owner of acclaimed seafood restaurant Other Mama, Dan Krohmer added another culinary feather to his cap when this Fremont East fusion restaurant debuted in May. Incorporating the flavors of Mexico and Japan, Hatsumi focuses on robata izakaya dining, a cuisine similar to barbecue and yakitori (skewers cooked over charcoal). The best way to order is consistently until you are full and with a mind to try it all.
Standouts include pork gyoza dumplings and colorful seared beef tataki decorated with greens, onions and radishes from nearby Desert Bloom Eco Farm. The skewers, which are simple and delicious, highlight the quality of the protein and cooking style. The chicken skin, filet, mushroom mix and the bacon-wrapped tomatoes are all must-have varieties.
For an adventurous meal, omakase dining is always the way to go.
Don’t skip a drink with dinner. The trendy restaurant boasts the largest selection of sakes downtown alongside an extensive list of Japanese beers and an inventive cocktail program — try the Sling with gin, cherry Heering, Benedictine and lemon.
Las Vegas artist Ryan Brunty created Hatsumi’s mascot, Yerman the Sad Yeti, who graces the walls. And speaking of art, while you’re at Hatsumi, check out how the iconic Fergusons Motel is being revitalized as a mixed-use complex celebrating visual arts, music, community and local creators — the massive Big Rig Jig installation is hard to miss.