1. Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina
What’s not to love about Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina, the new Italian joint opened by Carla Pellegrino and her sister Allesandra Madeira? Pellegrino, the former chef at Rao’s, brings her dazzling dishes to this off-Strip restaurant with clothes hanging from the ceiling to give you the feel of dining al fresco in Naples. Look for dishes such as her meatballs, oh such good meatballs, made with beef, veal and pork in a fresh tomato and basil sauce and penne wrapped up in hot tomatoes, garlic and parsley sauce. Save room for Pellegrino’s amazing classic ricotta cheesecake. The prices can’t be beat. Soon she’s adding Brazilian-influenced dishes as well.
Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina
10740 S. Eastern Ave. #155
2. Due Forni Pizza and Wine Bar
What’s not to love about Due Forni, the new pizza joint from Alex Taylor, the former food and beverage director at Encore and Mandalay Bay, and Chef Carlos Buscaglia, former executive chef at Fiamma at MGM Grand? Choose between Neapolitan- or Roman-style crusts, one thicker and chewier, the other crisp as a cracker. Both are made in two Napolitano brick ovens, the only in the world at this time. Not enough to get you off the couch? How about the collection of 40 American and Italian wines by the glass served from Enomatic wine dispensers? Or the cool vibe that has you feeling like you’re in an Italian garden? Or the fresh Italian buffalo milk mozzarella used with practically every dish?
Due Forni Pizza and Wine Bar
3555 S. Town Center Drive, Suite 105
What’s not to love about i♥burgers? It’s right in the name! These gourmet burgers feature farm-fresh vegetables, smoked meats and an array of cheeses. It also features the largest fry menu in Las Vegas, with options including truffle-butter tossed fried Yukon Gold potatoes, New York-style chips and baked potato fries. Executive Chef/GM Errol LeBlanc, formerly of R.E. Tapas Kitchen and Aureole, grinds the meat in house to get the right texture. Not good enough for you? Try the signature cocktails i♥ bloody mary, which boasts pork cracklins and apple-wood smoked bacon salt circling the rim. If you prefer sweet over savory, the Blueberry Panshake is the drink for you: blueberry, maple syrup and freshly made pancakes blended with homemade ice cream.
3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
4. Rí Rá Las Vegas
What’s not to love about Rí Rá Las Vegas, the new authentic Irish pub at Mandalay Place? Salvaged Irish pubs make up the decor, and a 500-pound plaster statue of St. Patrick overlooks the middle bar. Irish fare including 12-day, in-house brined corned beef brisket; fish and chips made with North Atlantic haddock; shepherd’s pie made with minced lamb; a Guinness barbecue burger; and an all-day Irish breakfast with eggs, sausages, rasher, black and white pudding, pan-roasted mushrooms and grilled tomato with toast make up the menu. Not good enough? How about a whiskey bar with hard-to-find Irish whiskies and a private room outfitted in a hodge-podge of 1970s decor?
Rí Rá Las Vegas
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.
5. Market Cafe
What’s not to love about Market Cafe, the new grab and go casual eatery at Vdara? The gourmet coffee bar features pastries, paninis and a menu of freshly prepared breakfast and lunch items. Executive Chef Martin Heierling calls his menu California Coastal with a focus on fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients. Look for Pacific Coast "Bennies" and the "Skinny" Scramble. Home-made soups alongside hand-crafted sandwiches and salads make up the lunch menu. Not good enough for you? It’s Martin Heierling of Sensi behind this!
Vdara Hotel & Spa
2600 W. Harmon Ave.