Food I’d fly back for in a NY minute:
The elegant, hat-box shaped dining room styled out with crystal chandeliers, blown glass dew-drops and vanilla ice-creamy leather banquettes, looks like a movie set for Sex and the City (actually, the four gal-pals were obsessed with Payard’s desserts on the show). Surprisingly, a lux-lunch at this Parisian inspired bistro happens to offer one of the best Prix-fix menus in town—three courses, including your choice of any of the delectable desserts, for only $21.
Winning brekkie picks include the world’s best choco-croissant, sweet & savory crepes, and steaming-hot beignets. To banish a lingering hangover, try the brioche pain perdu French toast with fresh berries and whipped cream.
Tip: For instant oral gratification pop next door to the retail shop for the Oreo or S’more flavored macaroons at Bellagio
For an unforgettable evening dining on classical Japanese cuisine cleverly re-interpreted by Chef Akira Back’s, (formerly the Executive Chef at Nobu Matsuhisa’s in Aspen) simply follow these three steps:
1. Call waaaay ahead to reserve a table on the private balcony for a birds-eye view of Bellagio’s iconic sight and sound fountain show. There is a new show every 15 minutes.
2. Sip a delicious, refreshing Essence cocktail (cucumber, white cranberry and citrus) while perusing the menu. Later, change it up with a sake-tasting from their extensive collection.
3. Order a variety of hot and cold small plates to share. The fresh, glistening sushi/sashimi was brilliant, with one exception—the Poppin’ Spicy Crab roll. The secret ingredient is a layer of watermelon crackling ‘pop-rocks” candy, which just didn’t rock my world.
Highly Recommend: the Big Eyed Tuna Pizza- tuna on a crunchy tortilla topped with truffle oil and micro-greens, Maine Lobster Carpaccio- with sweet onion and cilantro, Tataki salad-a trio of raw tuna, salmon and yellow tail dressed perfectly, and the achingly tender Kobe beef short ribs.
Wazuzu is where celeb-chef, Jet Tila’s inspired Pan-Asian cuisine meets the best of the west. You’ll dine in a sea of crimson under the watchful eye of a gigundous 27-foot dragon made from 90,000 Swarovski crystals and 2,400 flickering lights. Other artistic creations include the Panang Curry, a soupy Thai coconut- curry with veggies and your choice of protein, a silken Miso Marinated Black Cod, Drunken Noodles- tender beef and flat rice noodles napped with a sweet soy, basil and chili sauce (a little oily for my tastes but the rest of the gang slurped them down in seconds) a kick-butt spicy version of Mongolian beef and a full range of designer sushi. If you won big at the tables consider splurging on Jet’s High “Roll”er, made up of Toro, Maine lobster and caviar for a mere $100. A fun drink that paired well with the spiciness was the unique Momokawa Coconut-Lemongrass Nigori Sake.
Nove (Nine in Italian…maybe because the two owners met when they were 9 years old?) serves up a great view which is particularly dramatic at night when the window’s flickering flames emerge. The restaurant boasts great décor and over-the-top glam with Led Swarovski crystal chandeliers hanging from the cathedral ceilings, crocodile leather banquettes, over sized walnut tables and whimsical, 12 foot tall topiaries of Sophia Loren-ish type women lining the wall. And don’t forget the great food. Chef Geno Bernardo adds his personal pizzaz to classic Italian fare. Everything from bread to pasta is made in-house. They even cure their own meats and sausages. A proponent of farm-to-table cuisine, Bernardo has joined forces with a local organic farm to ensure that only the freshest seasonal fruits and veggies grace his menu.
Openers and closers provided the highlights. A trio of tasty starters sure got our attention: Crudo (Italy’s version of sashimi) with fresh chopped salmon, tuna and yellowtail with a drizzle of lemon and olive oil, an earthy salami platter with cured meats, walnut pesto, parmigiano and toasted ciabatta and a well- blistered pizza with a tomato, basil and mozzarella di bufala (a purist’s delight).
We ended with the most fun dessert, “make-your-own” mini cannoli, guaranteed to bring out your inner child. Our waiter (thanks for the superb service, by the way) brought us a plate of empty shells, a tube of sweetened cream for filling and a dipping tray with a selection of toppings that included baby white and dark chocolate chips, raspberry sauce, coconut flakes, crushed candy bars, etc.
We zipped upstairs for an after-dinner drink at the renowned Playboy Club, a combo upscale lounge and gaming venue. We absolutely loved playing “Guess-who” as the 60 plasma screens flashed celebrity pics acquired from the Playboy archives. Since there were more bunnies than customers that night we jumped towers to hang at Ghostbar’s lively outdoor lounge, sipping a signature “Ghostini” (blend of Absolute and Midori) while taking in the unparallel views from the 55th floor patio.
“Would you mind taking my picture?” was all the pickup line one lucky lover needed here.
For an all-American upscale meat and potatoes dinner, carnivores will be in cow-heaven at Planet Hollywood’s indulging in prime cuts of steak, blissfully unadulterated and charred to perfection. The stunning décor (opulent red-flocked walls covered with sexy vintage pin-up photos, seductive red leather booths and soft lighting) and the exceedingly hospitable service make this a perfect date-night spot.
“It sounds so romantic, but I don’t eat meat,” you wail. No problem. Strip House offers organic chicken, fresh seafood and a long list of decadent sides. A vegetarian could easily make a tasty meal out of the Creamed Spinach gussied up with Black Truffles, Crisp Goose Fat potatoes, a tangle of sautéed wild mushrooms and green beans with garlic. The table next to us was in seventh heaven over the Warm Garlic bread Gorgonzola Fondue (definitely ordering that next time as well as a repeat of the addictive, sweet & salty teriyaki beef jerky and the Rockerfeller-rich creamed corn with smoky pancetta, and the…)