Photo credit: Shelley Stepanek

One of my all-time favorite restaurants in Las Vegas is CANALETTO in The Venetian Resort, located right on the canal in the second-floor shopping mall. This huge restaurant is two stories, with plenty of indoor and outdoor, as we should say, dining in the Italian piazza area. The Venetian Resort is theme oriented, and this lovely dining area is recreated with bridges and waterways to be a replica of St. Mark’s Square in Venice. The founders of Il Fornaio restaurants own Canaletto and they feature wonderful house-made pastas, salads and soups, wood-fired rotisserie and grilled meats, game and poultry, along with pizzas and plenty of pasta dishes. I started with a lovely Mojito. First up was the Insalata Di Rape—roasted organic yellow and purple beets, wild arugula, asiago cheese, toasted walnuts, red wine and lemon vinaigrette. For the main course I had Grigliata Di Pesce Con Polenta—mixed grill of salmon, sole, prawn, scallop and calamari topped with lemon olive oil served with grilled polenta and sautéed seasonal vegetables; and Asparagi Alla Griglia—fresh asparagus grilled with extra virgin olive oil. There is such an extended menu to choose from, and I try to eat here at least every couple of months. 

The upstairs area can host small and large groups all overlooking St. Mark’s. The service is always excellent, and you will find yourself immersed in Italy, as most everyone speaks Italian. Our waiter, Gilberto Soto, was exceptional with his service. The courtyard features strolling Italian musicians, acrobatic acts and all kinds of entertainment which can be enjoyed from your table. Canaletto is the Winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2007. Reach out to Kelly Mendez for any group you might have. 702-733-0070 Open 11:30-11 daily.

Can’t wait for the opening of the new BUGSY & MEYER STEAKHOUSE in the Flamingo. Taking over the former Center Cut space, which is right across from the wildlife park, this is a very large venue. There is an ongoing $10 million investment and it should be opening by spring. With a definite “mob” feel in the décor, there will be a private bar and lounge in the back. Featuring a lot of steakhouse classics, you can book a party in one of three private dining rooms. Why am I so excited? Because my good friend Meyer Lansky, grandson of Meyer who actually headed up the mob, is a consultant. He will be adding a touch of old-time glamour, and contributing some of his grandfather’s items The real thing is hard to find unless you go to The Mob Museum downtown. There will be a “fake” entrance thru a look alike bakery, past a meat cooler dry aging the meat and into a dining room. Feel like you might be having dinner in the Casino or Goodfellas movies? You’ll never know who will show up on any given night. We’ll keep you posted on the actual opening date. 

Coming up soon on March 1st at the ever-popular HOFBRAUHAUS on Paradise, is the first ever CHICKEN WING FESTIVAL. Running from 1-4 p.m., there is a limited number of early tickets. The festival will have samples from various wing shops, and anyone over 21 may participate, as there is a free beer along with your event ticket.  Plenty of free parking. Go to 

THE STRAT, formerly the Stratosphere, had a "reinvention" gala last month.  Showcasing new areas, a lounge, the SkyPod and upgraded casino, locals and celebrities alike came out to dine at BLVD & MAIN on the casino floor. Legendary icon Sammy Hagar was there playing some of his music and toasting with his new Santo Blanco Tequila and Sammy's Beach Bar Rum. Crab, shrimp, Chinese dumplings, meatballs, sirloin sandwiches, cheeses and plenty of desserts were served in the festive atmosphere. The Strat has really undergone some changes in the last year and with its free valet parking is one of the few casinos that offer this added bonus. There are plenty of rides in the sky, a great view over all of Las Vegas, the Remix Lounge, and of course the tented show in the back, Celestia, which is a great bargain at its price.  

GUY FIERI’S BIRTHDAY BASH at his VEGAS KITCHEN AND BAR in The LINQ, was a crowd of happy cheering people. Everyone was on the deck and dining on pastrami sandwiches, tacos, brisket and a whole lot of other finger foods. Great mojitos, and plenty of drinks. The desserts were absolutely some of the best decorated I have seen in a long time and cakes that showcased the evening were adorned with the Vegas Raiders logo. Guy was busy giving unlimited interviews and saying hello to everyone. Along with his other restaurant in Las Vegas, El Burro Borracho at the Rio, and numerous other locations including Baltimore, Mount Pocono, Atlantic City and South Africa, he truly is one of the top chefs in the world.