James Trees Brings His Mastery of Italian Cuisine to Tivoli Village

Photos by Joe Urcioli

Congrats are in order to Chef James Trees on the opening of his new restaurant, Ada’s. The CIA graduate and Las Vegas native has made quite a name for himself with his mastery of culinary techniques and dynamic flavors at his acclaimed Italian spot Esther’s Kitchen in the Las Vegas Arts District. It has become a critical part of our local dining scene and garnered a huge accolade by being selected one of the Gayot 2018 Top 10 New Restaurants in the US. Now Chef has ventured into the burbs, as this new pizza- and ice cream-focused eatery is situated in Tivoli Village just steps from valet, the parking garage and nearly across the street from Brio. 

The design is quite eye-catching, with original artwork by local painter Heather Grace of trees (naturally) with 3-D leaves and hummingbirds, wicker basket light shades, an open kitchen where you can easily view all the action, wood tables and chairs, large windows and both indoor and shaded outdoor seating.

The all-day menu features appetizers of which the housemade bread—yes, the same wonderful sourdough found at Esther’s—with options of adding burrata or anchovy butter, is a must-have. Other great starters are polpette—meatballs with basil ricotta and more of that delicious charred bread; and arancini with summer corn, truffle and chili. Salads are highlighted by the little gems: Bradley’s Caesar with croutons and chili oil; market salad, which dazzles with peaches, hazelnut, ricotta and mustards; and chopped, which the menu list as having all the things, including meat, cheese and olive brine. Pasta dishes are what have made Chef Trees famous, so you’d be missing out if you didn’t have at least one, such as chitarra—carbonara, egg yolk, guanciale and peas; and my favorite: gemmelli pistachio pesto with lemon zest, peas and pecorino. 

The aforementioned delights are well worth showing up for, but this eatery specializes in a wide range of designer pizza creations you likely have never seen anywhere else, enhanced with non-traditional ingredients like foie gras, quail eggs, salt cod, clams, white asparagus and charred fennel. Lovers of all things duck will be in paradise with a pie featuring duck confit, duck fat and each slice containing a generous slice of seared foie gras. Some more of my faves are the bacon + egg with fontina, quail eggs and caramelized onion; chicken pesto with chicken, pinenut pesto and smoked scamorza (an Italian cheese); and mushroom—a white pie with tallegio + fontina and charred kale. 

The grand finale is also the sole reason many make their way here: a dozen varieties of house-made ice cream with culinary flavors. The options include peach & ricotta (you have to try it to appreciate it!), balsamic strawberry & buttermilk, Saturday morning cereal and Vesta white coffee & chocolate, which can be enjoyed in a show-stopping bruleed banana split, by the scoop or in sundaes with a range of toppings like blackberry port compote, caramel popcorn bark, pine nut brittle and Luxardo cherries. 

In case you were wondering, while Esther’s is named for Chef Trees’ late great aunt, a huge supporter of the talented chef who wrote the check that sent him to the Culinary Institute of America-Hyde Park, Ada’s is named for Ada Coleman, the first female head bartender of the legendary Savoy hotel in London during the golden era. As a testament to the ground-breaking bartender, during dinner service Ada’s features roaming bar carts offering tailored gin & tonic cocktails tableside. The wine list, comprised mainly of Italian wines, mirrors the food menu, with suggested wines listed for each section of the menu, such as the Rosato Toscano Sangiovese paired with snacks and the Cortese di Gavi with pizza; and craft beer fans will appreciate the likes of Stillwater Artisinal Action Bronson’s 7000 Moscat Sour and locally brewed CraftHaus Belgard Coffee Stout. 

Hurray for Chef Trees and for the people in the Summerlin area, who now can save a bundle on gas by having a much shorter drive to enjoy Chef’s wonderfulness!

Ada’s is open daily from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. www.adaslv.com 

Save Your Money on a Trip to the Caribbean and Instead Make Your Way to DW Bistro

Photos by Adam Frazier

Making a visit to DW Bistro has been on my short list for several months, and fortunately for me, I finally made my way to its location in the Gramercy at Russell and the 215 Freeway to check it out. Owner Bryce Krausman proved to be an excellent host, and told me his restaurant has been open for 9 years, first on Fort Apache in the former space of the now-closed Andre’s Bistro, and now at its current home in the Gramercy, where it has flourished for the past two and a half years.

I was immediately drawn to a stunning gold-hued grand piano, which Bryce informed me he recently purchased at an auction. It happens to have belonged to Lady Gaga and Mark Bronson and will be occasionally used for live music, but if nothing else, it’s a beautiful part of the décor. In addition, the feel of the room is open, bright and colorful, enhanced by floor-to-ceiling windows allowing for ample natural light and a cheerful orange and white motif, an industrial white ceiling and semi-open kitchen.

The menu features Southwest-, New Mexico- and Caribbean-influenced cuisine, such as pesto torte made from goat cheese, pesto, macadamia nuts and chili oil; and Spanish chorizo and shrimp served with fresh tomato, roasted garlic, lemon beurre blanc, basil, lavash and crostino crackers in a broth so tasty I would slurp it from the bowl if no one was looking. Another great choice is the DW Bowls, my favorite of which is the Jamaican chicken curry with jidori chicken, seasonal vegetables, coconut cream, couscous (or rice) and imported curry. Entrees feature choices of Scottish salmon, jerk filet, fried chicken, shrimp tagliatelle, house-made agnolotti with short rib and fish of the day. 

Be advised you should save room for dessert, which during my visit featured the restaurant’s best-selling DW carrot cake with pineapple macadamia nut, coconut crème frosting and mango puree; and peanut butter chocolate mousse pie. 

Being a beer guy, I was pleased with some unusual choices like 21st Amendment Marooned on Hog Island Stout, Evil Twin Molotov Cocktail Imperial IPA and the provocative-named Midnight Sun Panty Peeler Tripel. Wine lovers will find several choices mainly from CA, OR and France, such as Schug Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma Coast and Justin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, CA. Cocktail fans aren’t left out, with a bevy of choices such as Jamaican Mule with Grey Goose Melon Vodka and fresh apricot muddled with mint and ginger syrup topped with Jamaican ginger beer and sparkling wine. 

Those looking for a deal need to look no further, for DW Bistro’s happy hour served at the bar and patio Tue.-Fri. from 3-8 p.m. offers the ridiculously low price of $3 drafts, along with $5 well drinks and $8 wines, cocktails and bites, which include no less than 17 wines, five cocktails and bites including chicken flautas, lamb meatballs, jerk chicken wings, Hatch chile mac and cheese and jerk pork tacos. 

DW offers brunch on Sat.-Sun. from 10-3. The restaurant is closed on Monday and Sunday nights and open Tue.-Thu. 11-9, Fri. 11-10, Sat. 10-10 and Sun. 11-3. 


Block 16 Urban Food Hall at The Cosmopolitan 

Photo courtesy The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

I finally made it out to the Block 16 Urban Food Hall at The Cosmopolitan, which opened in August of 2018. My destination was Tekka Bar, which specializes in hand-rolled sushi. The menu includes a bevy of hand rolls, one sashimi (Yellowtail Serrano); and on tap, two teas on nitro (Sencha Green Tea and Matcha Green Tea), a Suntori draft sake, Kirin Ichiban, their specialty Obon Cocktail (a mix of Yuzu Vodka, ginger soju, lime juice and cucumber soda) and one of my all-time favorite Japanese craft beers: Hitachino Nest White Ale. 

While you sit at the bar a sushi chef prepares your rolls, which ideally should be consumed as soon as they are handed to you. For the ultimate experience I recommend the Highroller, which includes six rolls: salmon, yellowtail, bay scallop, lobster, toro and spicy tuna, for $35. Or you can order them individually ranging from $6-$8, a threesome for $16 or foursome for $22. 

In addition to Tekka Bar, other eateries within the Block 16 Urban Food Hall are Vegas outposts of popular eateries from across the US: Nashville’s renowned Southern chicken joint Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, James Beard Award-winning Chef Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok Wing from Portland, New Orleans cult favorite District Donuts. Sliders. Brew., Portland Chef Rick Gencarelli’s over-the-top sandwich shop Lardo and NYC tequila and mescal cocktail bar Ghost Donkey. The six venues provide a lot of options to fit one’s mood and as they are all situated in one area you can easily indulge in more than one type of cuisine. All are overseen by our friend, Chef de Cuisine John Courtney, who manages the kitchens; and Senior Manager of the Urban Food Hall, Patrick White.