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.
Roy Saunders’ career in food and beverage spans more than five decades. The general manager at Andrea’s at Encore Las Vegas was a bus boy in high school here in Las Vegas, waiting on classic stars such as Ann-Margret, Glen Campbell and Scatman Crothers at the old International, now Westgate. He had another "brush with fame" there when he met Elvis in the back halls walking from the showroom when "The King" requested a dessert from the rack Saunders was rolling by. By his 21st birthday, he was promoted to food server in the showroom at the MGM Grand while he went to collect. He helped open Kokomo’s Steakhouse at the Mirage as the assistant general manager in 1989, and casino mogul Steve Wynn himself moved him to the flight department, where he traveled with him for the next 10 years. He transferred from the plane to open Bellagio as the general manager of Prime Steakhouse. Saunders joined Andrea’s as general manager in 2013. Here he shares three dining favorites on and off the Strip.
Where do you like to dine on nights off from Andrea’s?
Typically on my off days I don’t venture down to the Strip from Green Valley but I will occasionally make the trek to Wynn and visit chef Ming Yu at Wing Lei and enjoy his Peking duck, a whole Peking duck brought to the table and hand carved, white gloves and all. Nothing is wasted as the smaller pieces are put into a bao bun with plum sauce, cucumber and green onion. It is awesome. I have enjoyed Peking duck from Beijing to Hong Kong to New York City and chef Ming has mastered this ancient delicacy. I first met Ming when he was a young chef at the Noodle Kitchen at the Bellagio and he was being tutored by master chef Phillip Lo from Hong Kong. Ming was a great talent in the late ’90s and has developed into a master chef in his own right. I wish I could enjoy his cooking on a daily basis. It’s simply magnificent.
On days off, I usually stay in the Green Valley area. My favorite local spot is Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana. I was a regular when the first Settebello opened on Horizon Ridge and it was there that the owner gave me a crash course on the authentic ingredients from Italy used in his products and the wood-burning ovens that create that unique blackened char on the crust. My favorite pizza is the margherita DOC with its crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, parmigiana reggiano and extra virgin olive oil. Settebello also has a classic antipasti panzanella made with homemade croutons, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto crisps, red onion, fennel, cucumber, basil and red wine vinaigrette. Wow! I’m sure I am missing a few other ingredients, but the salad makes you feel as if you were in Naples, Italy, sipping a nice Chianti and watching the sun set over the Mediterranean.
When not in the mood for pizza I visit my old friends and owners Lou, Mike and chef Jerry at Tuscany Grill off of Eastern and Sunridge Heights. The trio has worked together for years now with Lou running the door and operations, Mike covering the bar and handling the beverage operation and Jerry at the helm for the culinary world. I typically start with a glass of the Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio, a great dry white wine from the Collio region of Italy and enjoy the antipasto or the fresh mozzarella, tomato and basil. Although these dishes are common, chef Jerry manages to consistently bring in fresh and vibrant products. My go-to entrée is the osso buco over fettuccini. It’s mouthwatering and the meat always falls off the bone. Wine of choice for the main course is always the Riserva Ducale oro-gold, a beautifully balanced Sangiovese with a long Italian pedigree. Topping off the evening with a glass of grappa and a homemade canolli. Superb!