Las Vegas has a chip on its shoulder. Some foodies here have the impression that John Mariani at Esquire doesn’t care for the restaurants here. Not so. The magazine just released Mariani’s best new restaurants of 2010.
Julian Serrano at Aria at CityCenter made the list. Mariani thought the menu, at 60 items, was too long, but thinks the chef’s eponymous Spanish restaurant gives Serrano a chance to show off his range. “The recession appears to have afforded him the opportunity to offer excellent food to more people at lower prices, and he’s betting that a casual, eat-what-how-and-when-you-want kind of restaurant is the way the city’s scene has to go.”
While Jean-Georges Vongerichten may be a New York institution, he still has to restaurants here in Vegas — Prime Steak at the Bellagio and Jean-Georges Steakhouse at Aria at CityCenter. His new ABC Kitchen in New York was named Restaurant of the Year. Vongerichten “has taken all the current infatuations, trends, and even clichés of contemporary dining and made them click by proving that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” Mariani said.
Chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich were inducted into Esquire’s Restaurant Hall of Fame. The duo has Carnevino Italian Steakhouse and B&B Ristorante at the Palazzo and Venetian respectively. “As a team, they’ve brought a reexamination of Italian food so powerful and complete that their effect on New York, America — even Italy — has been unprecedented,” Mariani said.
Wolfgang Puck, who has a handful of restaurants in Vegas, received accolades for his WP24 By Wolfgang Puck in Los Angeles. “This high-flying Chinese restaurant on the 24th floor of the new Ritz-Carlton hotel is in many ways vintage Puck: dramatic design, adaptive cooking and a reliance on his chefs.”
Mariani also named 11 restaurants not to miss and included Sage, Chef Shawn McClain’s first venture in Las Vegas, on the list. Sage is also at Aria at CityCenter.
For the entire list, look for Esquire’s November issue, due in bookstores Oct. 19.