Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
Michael Shaughnessy [Photo: Chelsea McManus]
Michael Shaughnessy began his cooking career 15, when his older brother got him his first job at a local pizza restaurant in Shoreview, Minn. During his externship from Le Cordon Bleu, he spent two months living with chef Jean-Luc Simon and his family in the northwest corner of France. By age 25, Shaughnessy was the executive chef at the hottest Italian restaurant in Minneapolis, Bellanotte. After three years, he came to Vegas to work with Wolfgang Puck at his restaurants before joining D.vino Italian Food and Wine at the Monte Carlo as executive chef in 2012. Here he shares some of the off-the-beaten track restaurants he frequents when he's not working.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you're not working?
I like Forte, Novecento Pizzeria 900 and The Maple Tree Cafe.
What dishes are most memorable?
The pizza at Novecento is so authentic its takes me right back to Italy! Classic Neapolitan pizza made in a classic Neapolitan oven. The 900 degree oven gives it that classic rustic crust. I like the classic margherita — so simple but yet so amazing in flavor and texture.
The pancakes and French toast at The Maple Tree Cafe are so buttery and sweet. The pancakes get a nice crisp edge around them. So light and fluffy too. Makes me think of breakfast on the weekends when I was a kid, having my mother cook breakfast on Saturday morning, waking up to those same tastes and smells that I get when I am at Maple Tree Cafe.
The sausage plate at Forte is amazing! All homemade and cured sausages with so much flavor. Very good just on their own. I love the small plates they offer. It lets you try so many different things.
Why do you enjoy going there?
Novecento reminds me of when I traveled Italy. All of the flavors, the simplicity and the attention to detail are awesome. They have great salads as well. Very friendly staff as well.
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