MGM Grand gets 'Crafty' with steakhouse

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LAS VEGAS -- If this city's taste is anything like New York's, the MGM Grand's new Craftsteak restaurant should hit it big.

Opened last month, Craftsteak is the latest creation of Tom Colicchio, a renowned chef and owner of three trendy New York spots -- Gramercy Tavern, Craft restaurant and Craftbar.

The New York Times awarded Colicchio three stars on three separate occasions: first as executive chef of the Mondrian restaurant; then with the Gramercy Tavern, which opened in 1994; and most recently with Craft, which opened in July 2001.

Colicchio's mantle includes Food & Wine magazine's Best New Chefs in America award; the James Beard Award for Best Chef in New York City; and the James Beard KitchenAid Award for his cookbook, "Think Like a Chef."

Gramercy Tavern has been one of Zagat's most popular restaurants in New York for several years in a row.

Having proved himself in the most competitive dining market in the country, the restaurateur is taking his show out west and trying his hand at running a steakhouse -- with a touch of gourmet.

Colicchio said he based his Craft restaurant in New York on the concept of "purity." Dining, he said, was moving from a "wildly creative time ... with eight or nine ingredients on one plate," to an emphasis on essentials.

With Craft, he moved "away from showmanship toward food that is fine but not fancy, straightforward and elemental."

Colicchio said he plans to apply the same principles at Craftsteak, but adapt them to the steakhouse concept.

Colicchio brought in veteran staff to fill key positions. Chris Albrecht, the new head chef at Craftsteak, also worked as chef in both Gramercy Tavern and Craft.

The general manager, Jason Lapin, also managed restaurants in New York and Los Angeles, and helped to open Spago in Las Vegas.

For information or reservations, call (702) 891-7318.

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