Downtown pop-up, Henderson’s healthful pizza, and shrimp—the other cocktail

A colleague, Dan Young, at, stages food events and pop-up dinners in London, and the events sell out online in three minutes. When I asked him if the concept might work here, he remarked, “London has 12 million foodies. Vegas can’t compete with that.”

That won’t keep the irrepressible Jolene Mannina of Sloppi Jo’s food truck fame from trying. She recently staged ChowDowntown, a food event with her chef partner, Joshua Clark, at Le Thai. Attendees included Gina Gavan of Project Dinner Table, Mina Group chef Gary LaMorte and Christopher LaPorte, who owns Insert Coin(s) across the street. And demand for the 40 seats far exceeded the capacity.

I’m glad I attended because the food was amazing. Some standouts included asparagus with lemon, olive and chili; Octopus “Bolognese”; and pork tenderloin with pork confit, Puy lentils and fennel jus. Mannina and Clark have been scouring downtown for a brick and mortar site. Stay tuned.

But if you’re jonesin’ to have them cook for you in the meantime, give Mannina a shout. Their company is called Dinefine, and they can be reached at

I ate well that week, in fact. At the Royce, in the revitalized Langham Hotel in Pasadena, Calif. (, I revisited an old friend, chef David Feau, who once cooked here at Lutece, when it was briefly opened at the Venetian.

Feau, a native Frenchman who once cooked at a two-Michelin-star restaurant in Paris, is a real artist, and the Royce is one of the most beautiful rooms in the greater Los Angeles area. S. Irene Virbila, a Los Angeles Times restaurant critic who now shares space with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Jonathan Gold, gave Feau three stars.

Dishes such as white, gold and purple beets with crème fraiche and a Kaffir lime panna cotta, and olive oil-poached lobster with celery and a mélange of grapefruit with spring beans compete with anything Vegas has to offer.

Locally, Pizza Fusion, a “socially responsible” chain using natural and organic ingredients, will open mid to late April in the South Eastern Commons Shopping Center at 10345 S. Eastern Ave. If you want a gluten-free crust, this will be the ticket. But no worries, there’s pepperoni, too.

And the original Las Vegas casino, Golden Gate, is getting a much-needed facelift and expansion, adding a 35,000-square-foot luxury tower and gaming with dancing dealers. Since 1959, the casino, which introduced shrimp cocktails to Las Vegas, has served more than 40 million of the little suckers.

Hungry, yet?

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Ligurian Octopus Salad, Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare

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Ligurian Octopus Salad, Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare

By Grace Bascos

Tender, slightly warm octopus and soft potatoes are gently tossed in nothing more than lemon juice and olive oil in this traditional Italian seaside dish. So simple and elegant, each bite nearly melts in your mouth, with the brightness of the lemon and fruitiness of the olive oil having absorbed into the octopus and potatoes. A light-bodied vermentino, such as that by Casamatta, adds nice acidity all around.