If restaurants are the cathedrals of the 21st century, then surely Las Vegas is the new Rome. In honor of Vegas Seven’s “Beauty Issue,” here’s a short list of fabulous dining rooms, featuring great designers such as Adam Tihany, David Rockwell and Tony Chi who’ve done incredible work on the Strip. I’ve found the competition off-Strip to be fairly fierce as well, so I’ve included two of my “local” favorites.
Sirio. The Aria resort has Sage, a grandiose art deco showplace, and Lemongrass, which looks like an enormous Thai birdcage. But Adam Tihany’s creation on the mezzanine here can’t be ignored. Chefs toil behind glass at a workstation; plush red leather chairs fill the dining room; and a giant, burnished copper spaceship dominates the dining room. The peasanty menu features pici, thick Roman spaghetti Bolognese and a terrific osso buco. Inside Aria, 590-7111.
Twist. Paris superstar chef Pierre Gagnaire’s only American restaurant is on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental, looking out over the Strip’s dead center. Despite the grand view, it’s very Parisian here, thanks to cracked alabaster wall sculptures, hundreds of glass globes suspended from the soaring ceiling, and a leopard-patterned carpet done in gray and crimson. The food is a complex interpretation of American and French products combined in ways never before imagined. 590-8888.
The Vintner Grill adds some swank to the Vegas burbs.
Vintner Grill. This popular room in western Las Vegas is owned by the Corrigan Brothers of Agave and Roadrunner fame. The décor features a tongue-and-groove ceiling, a black-and-white checker floor and Orion chandeliers hanging from trees on a Moroccan-themed patio. The food is the province of Spago alum Matthew Silverman and runs to upscale, eclectic fare. Start with Moroccan spiced lamb ribs or crispy calamari with a curry aioli. Then graduate to masterful entrées such as halibut with couscous, spinach, toasted orzo pasta, lemon gremolata and sweet tomatoes. 10100 W. Charleston Blvd., 214-5590.
Guy Savoy. A private elevator whisks you to this cathedral-like room with majestically high ceilings and austere, dark wooden paneling designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who also did parts of the Louvre and Guy Savoy’s restaurant in Paris. The champagne bar has an arresting sculptured bear composed of white matchsticks. The cooking is magnificent, such as the oysters en gelée, superb American beef and the chef’s signature artichoke soup with Parmesan and black truffles. In Caesars Palace, 731-7110.
Sensi. The Japanese designer Super Potato used stone walls and water features in this Spa Tower stunner, which relies on an abundance of wood and glass for the natural look. The tandoori breads and meats, fresh pastas, American grill fare and fresh seafoods are prepared in four show kitchens fronted by glass. Chef Martin Heierling has great design karma. His other restaurant, Vdara’s Silk Road, has an exotic, central Asian design from architect Karim Rashid. In Bellagio, 693-7223.
Mastro’s Ocean Club. David Rockwell’s 80-foot “treehouse,” a magnificent construction of curved wooden beams, is the centerpiece at this new steak and seafood house that came to us from Orange County. The dining room boasts beautifully curved white leather booths and mahogany banquettes. If you stick to the basics, such as the Caesar salad, one of the prime steaks and wine from a nicely put together list, you can eat reasonably well here. In Crystals at CityCenter, 798-7115.
Hank’s adds some swank to the Vegas burbs.
Hank’s. This clubby Green Valley steak house is notable for its elaborate crystal chandeliers from the Czech Republic, which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and were strung individually by visiting artists from that country. Distressed mirrors and a cool marble bar are just of few of the lavish appointments. The cuisine is solid, with prime meats complemented by terrific sides such as creamed corn and truffled tater tots. In the Green Valley Ranch Casino, 617-7515.