LAS VEGAS -- The hot-hot-hot culinary scene that now defines Las
Vegas continues to find ever more innovative ways for visitors to
enjoy a sojourn at the table.
Three recent arrivals not only illustrate that point but also
generate headlines as each in its own way is a "restaurant
This high-profile trio demarcates a geographic diagonal that, in
turn, taps into the runaway northwest corridor, establishes an
unexpected dining opportunity on the Strip and ventures into
somewhat new territory to the southeast.
Adding to their collective newsworthiness is the major name
connected with each of them.
Le Cirque first captured the spotlight in New York, soon to be
followed by any number of prestigious awards, and has remained
dominant there for years.
Its ruling force, the Maccione family, subsequently opened
replicas inside the hotels of a few other travel destinations, most
recently the Bellagio here.
Then in late 2002 the family, and more specifically the three
sons, executed a unique move.
They opened Tre -- so named in honor of Mario, Marco and Mauro
Maccione -- in the northwest sector of Las Vegas, their first
restaurant outside a hotel, their first outside a city hub and
their first to carry a name other than Le Cirque.
Was it viewed as somewhat risky?
"Some of my family members said I was just nuts," Mario
confides. But it's a risk that is paying off as the handsome and
contemporary structure is drawing a fine cross section of
General manager Greg Jarmolowich describes a diverse bunch at
lunch, older folks in the early dinner hours, "industry people"
(casino workers) after 8 p.m. and a late-night wave beginning
around 9:30 p.m., especially on weekends.
And now Strip visitors are also discovering this Le Cirque
sibling, where the prices are a little different, where the Italian
display some other Mediterranean influences as seen in the
couscous and chick pea puree and apple-date chutney, and where the
surroundings are far removed from the usual tourist experience.
Tre won't remain a "local secret" for long.
Those who tend to stay in the Strip vicinity may come upon a bit
of a surprise at the redesigned Neiman Marcus inside the newly
renovated Fashion Show mall.
Shoppers visiting the children's department will find an
entrance to the new NM Cafe, a clean-lined and contemporary
stopping point for a quick bite.
Of course, many department stores offer cafe service, so as nice
as this is, it's not the surprise.
That, instead, resides just adjacent to the Chanel couture
display, where a discreet double-door entryway leads to a warmly
hued, wood-paneled corridor that serves as transitional space
between the hustle of this particular outside world and the fine
dining experience that awaits within, an amenity seldom found in a
mall or in a department store.
Called Mariposa, it welcomes guests into a comfy dining room
brushed with a restful medley of grays and cinnamony reds and honey
tones, flanked by a colorful and counterpointing lounge to one side
and to the other, a window wall that panoramically frames the
streetscape and beyond.
Diners at Mariposa, including a significant locals component
despite its Strip location, benefit from the expertise of executive
pastry chef Jesus Ormelas; manager/sommelier Charles VanLandshoot,
who notes that their list "features fantastic wines from all over
the world ... including great champagnes by the glass"; and chef de
cuisine Bridget Lieb.
Despite her youth, Lieb has a sparkling resume that lists
top-notch positions at Le Cirque in New York, plus Aureole, Alize
and the now defunct London Club in Las Vegas.
Her purist creations favor such ingredients as lobster, smoked
trout, French cheese, wild mushrooms and caviar, which share menu
space with a fine selection of beef, chicken and seafood
Desserts du jour may be a hazelnut cream tower or mango parfait
or warm chocolate-and-banana tart. Even so, pricing is reasonable,
with lunch selections in the $12 to $18 range and dinner entrees
starting under $20.
Visitors and locals alike are discovering a new addition to the
Las Vegas cuisine scene that is quite close in, and yet the only
full restaurant in sight.
Just south of the airport is the still-growing Marnell Corporate
Center, which houses Panevino, and the whole of it, including this
first company venture into a free-standing restaurant, is under the
auspices of the same Anthony Marnell who built Rio Suite Hotel and
Casino (subsequently sold to Harrah's).
For those who may be familiar with Panevino in San Diego, indeed
the same Italian-born team operates this restaurant for
The evidence on the plate at lunch and dinner takes shape as
pastas, sauces, breads and more made on premise.
The Tuscany region, with its emphasis on rustic dishes flavored
with intense natural extracts, most influences the menu and
translates to an authentic array of pizzas and pastas, soups and
salads, veggies and risottos, seafood and landfood.
Some of these dishes plus retail items also are available to go
or to stay in the adjacent Panevino Gourmet Deli.
It all takes place inside a brick-red edifice fronted by a
reverse sweep of timber-enhanced glass with that curvilinear
styling repeated several times over in the interior.
Every table in the dining room and every seat in the lounge
(which features soundless slot machines inset in the bar) comes
complete with a view of the Strip, airport and surrounding
Clients interested in group functions will find something to
love at each of these fine restaurants.
At Tre, the section farthest from the door is curtained off for
events during regular business hours to accommodate parties of 10
An even more intriguing possibility, though, is presented on
weekends when the restaurant is closed for lunch and, accordingly,
made available -- with no room fee -- for showers, receptions, any
kind of function with at least 10 to 15 people.
The floor plan at Mariposa enables the restaurant to host
parties of different sizes and different formats.
The actual private dining room, artfully designed in rich woods
with frosted glass doors and its own window wall, seats 36
However, thanks to a flexible space just outside the private
room and that adjacent colorful lounge, larger parties can fit in
just fine -- and the largest of groups can simply buy out the
Panevino offers a spectrum that is anchored at one end by an
innovative chef's table and at the other by a room that can hold a
veritable crowd of meeting or partying souls.
That chef's table is tucked into an extraordinary, tall leather
booth that sits squarely in front of a semi-exhibition kitchen and
treats 14 group members to a view of the action and chef-narrated
Then, on the other side of the attached deli, three banquet
rooms can be configured to hold smaller groups (as few as two) in
one half of either of the side rooms, medium groups in an entire
side room, large groups in the central room or gatherings of almost
200 by combining all three, and according to marketing director
Monica Martarano, all feature state-of-the art audio-visuals.
Just when it seems there couldn't possibly be one more news
flash regarding Las Vegas restaurants, along come three more places
with tales to tell.
You can now give your clients that inside story on Tre, Mariposa
and Panevino, including their status as local favorites.