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.
Stephen Blandino learned to love cooking while growing up on Staten Island with his two Italian grandmothers, spending weekends cooking with them. With one Sicilian grandmother and one Neapolitan, the experiences were vastly different. Blandino attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook, majoring in economics, but decided to try his hand in a professional kitchen as a line cook at Sam’s Hampton Square Restaurant in Southampton, N.Y. That summer job turned into three, and he decided to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. After graduating, he spent a year working under Charlie Palmer at Aureole in New York, then moved to Las Vegas to work at the restaurant at Mandalay Bay. In three years, he worked his way from line cook to executive sous chef. In 2003, Palmer offered Blandino the chef de cuisine job at Charlie Palmer Steak at the Four Seasons Las Vegas, where he currently works. Of note, while Blandino is a chef at a steakhouse, he’s also an avid fisherman and gets out to fish as often as he can. Here he shares three of his favorite off-Strip restaurants.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you’re not working?
Noodle Pot, Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana and Diamond China.
What dishes are most memorable?
At the Noodle Pot I love their spicy beef and tendon soup. The noodles are hand-pulled which is a nice find here in Vegas. The tendon is slow braised to perfection with lots of spice (clove, star anise), and fresh herbs.
Settebello Pizzeria has a Pizza Carbonara that is topped with the classic carbonara pasta toppings: Egg, pancetta, mozzarella and cracked black pepper. The ingredients take on a whole new dimension though, when baked on an authentic pizza crust.
At Diamond China, they have live Dungeness crabs that are battered and fried with fresh chiles and XO Spicy Sauce. You get to choose your own crab and then 10 minutes later they set down a hot, juicy crustacean in front of you.
Why do you enjoy going there?
All three are laid back and off the Strip. I enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and really unique menu items. I am always happily surprised of the excellent quality of the food that has kept me going back for years.