As chef Brian Malarkey prepares to bring his Searsucker brand to Caesars Palace on March 27, I was lucky enough to score an invite to dine at the San Diego original. I’m embarrassed to say it was my first meal there—especially considering it’s a two-minute walk from my favorite SoCal dive bar. The night was incredible. I’m curious, however, to see how the down-and-dirty Southern vibe that works brilliantly in the Gaslamp area (Malarkey admits some of his customers are wearing flip-flops) will translate into a Hakkasan Group restaurant that will serve as a complement to its Omnia megaclub. Will the Beautiful people be able to relate? The chef admits he’ll be changing the menu a bit, adding lighter dishes for those who want to fit into that fabulous dress. But he promises Searsucker’s heart and soul will remain the same, and I can’t wait to see. And here’s a hint for those who want to mess with their friends: Order the Cowboy Caviar and don’t tell them it’s fried testicles until they’ve happily devoured them!
I had the chance to sit down with pizza genius Tony Gemignani to discuss the official opening of his second Pizza Rock location March 17 in Green Valley Ranch. As we hung out at his more casual Slice House in the resort’s food court, a chef from a prominent Strip location came over and asked him to autograph his recently published Pizza Bible. (For what it’s worth, it’s an amazing book that proves you can make any style of good pizza at home.) The chef confirmed he’s still shopping a potential TV deal. But his focus now is on Pizza Rock, followed by a new concept, Little Tony’s, in Palace Station. From there, he has his eyes set on the Strip. At this point, there are no definite plans, but the pizza maker says he’d be happy to work, by way of example, with “whoever approaches us and says ‘I want a Pizza Rock in Bellagio.’” While I’m not sure if that’s necessarily the best fit, I’d be happy to check it out.
I’ve had a long and storied history with Mix by Alain Ducasse (in the Delano, 702-632-9500). We didn’t hit it off at first (they were rude to me). I vetoed their inclusion in the first two editions of my book, Eating Las Vegas. Eventually we buried the hatchet because I cannot deny Ducasse’s genius. So as we prepare for the French restaurant with one of the best views in town to re-invent itself as Rivea, I’m thrilled to have what may be my last all-out French experience there, designed by Ducasse himself. The master chef has enlisted 1,500 restaurants and embassies in 150 countries to offer a taste of France with a special Goût de France/Good France dinner on March 19 ($90, with $60 optional wine tasting). Highlights of the seven-course meal will include crab salad, foie gras and slow-braised wagyu beef cheeks. Five percent of the menu proceeds will support Keep Memory Alive benefiting the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. See you there.