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Alex Stratta Talks About His Tapas Restaurant Going in Tivoli Village

The restaurant plans to open early next year with 50 tapas and paellas.

Alex Stratta
Alex Stratta
Christopher DeVargas

By early 2015, you will once again be dining on Michelin-starred chef Alex Stratta’s cuisine. He opens Tapas by Alex Stratta at Tivoli Village then, bringing his first of what he hopes are many new restaurants to Las Vegas.

"I am beyond overwhelmed at the response so far. I could not be happier with the response we had," he says of the anticipation for his return to helming a kitchen with his name over the door.

Stratta expects to start with a basic tapas menu of 50 items along with paella. Every night will feature a different special such as suckling pigs or prime rib roasted meats. On nights that aren’t as busy, diners might find a menu of five truly Stratta dishes, dishes that might have made the menus of his stellar Alex when it was at Wynn Las Vegas.

Stratta plans to make take a "familiar and comfortable approach" with the menu but featuring high quality products. "What I want to do is create a menu that people can eat two or three times a week. Real simple but done correctly," he says. "Honestly, this is what I’ve always done but got carried away at Alex."

Don’t expect to find the same dishes all the time though. "As we develop and people trust me, I’ll get a bit more aggressive with stuff. People are pretty open to it these days. Octopus, now it’s on so many menus. John Dory and sea urchin developed in other food cultures. The TV food culture has turned the volume up on palates. This is good timing for me. After doing this for 36 years, I finally got the hang of it."

More importantly, Stratta wants to focus on service and genuine hospitality. "I can say that as a chef, how you feel is a bigger deal. At Alex, I could give you the good food but you have to treat guests right. They need to be a priority. It’s tough to keep on top of it. You have to chase them around. But once you establish the culture, they pretty much don’t need too much regulating."

Tapas by Alex Stratta takes over the former Pizza Lounge space, and Stratta says it didn’t require much in terms of renovations. "There’s no major moving or brain damage. We’re not moving the hoods or changing the bathrooms," he says. Essentially he’s changing the tables and chairs. "They took very good care of the place. I appreciate how good they left the place. It has two great ovens."

Stratta looked at two different restaurant spaces at Tivoli Village before this opportunity came up. "The tapas came out of the blue. My partner said, ‘When can we open?’ How about in three weeks? I’m excited but not that excited. I thought we should open right before the holidays. It’s the perfect time to run the engine and see what happens when it’s busy. Then we can regroup."

He joins restaurants such as Made LV and Echo & Rig at the shopping center. "What’s happening off the Strip, feels like what happened to Scottsdale in 1990-98 when you were the only in game in town. Now you go back there and I can’t even recognize the landscape."

This is just the first of two planned restaurants, at least so far. Alex Stratta Italian Steakhouse opens at the Gramercy on the southwest side in February or March. Stratta says he came up with 10 different concepts for restaurants to present DIXI Foods International, his partner in the restaurants. "The top of the list was something with small plates that was affordable but quality."

Stratta also reworked the menu at Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar, a space he originally thought might be his first restaurant. "I had one idea in mind. I wanted to do something all the way then you put some other factors into the equation, and maybe it’s not the right place. You can find friendly drinks and good food. At that price point, it teeters between neighborhood bar or bar with a restaurant. I’m used to the fancy restaurant with the goodies. Elements was a very bar-focused place. Food was second. It was more of a challenge than I thought it was."

Action starts in the Tapas by Alex Stratta space this week, with a countdown to opening following. Construction delays are holding the opening off until early 2015.

"There’s all kinds of stuff we can do. I’m excited to be off the Strip."

Tivoli Village

Tivoli Village, , NV 89145