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 feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Herringbone executive chef Geno Bernardo has quite the globetrotting career. He grew up in New Jersey, learning to cook in his Nana’s kitchen. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island. He worked in Boston for two years at Fellini’s Italian Restaurant and then headed to New York City to lead the company’s Café and Naples 45. Then it was off to San Diego to be a sushi chef at Sushi on the Rock and sous chef at Sally’s on the Waterfront. By 2001, he returned to the East Coast as the executive chef at Providence Oyster Bar and soon after, Providence Prime. He worked as the executive chef for Belly Italiano in Palm Springs and in April 2005, moved to Las Vegas to run Nove Italiano at the Palms. Then in 2013, he returned to New York as the corporate executive chef for David Burke Restaurant Group, supervising eight restaurants in New York, New Jersey and Chicago. Then he was off to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as the executive chef for El Dorado Golf & Beach Club, overseeing seven restaurants. Now he’s back in Las Vegas, this time at Brian Malarkey’s Herringbone at Aria. Here he shares some of his favorite restaurants in Sin City.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you’re not working?
Forte European Tapas Bar + Bistro, District One Kitchen & Bar and Soho Japanese restaurant.
What dishes are most memorable?
Forte European Tapas Bar + Bistro
Pelmeni — Russian-style meat dumplings, sprinkled with fresh dill, green onion and served with sour cream.
Adjarski Khachapurri — Traditional Georgian boat-shaped bread filled with two types of pickled cheese and of course, a cracked egg.
The Bulgarian noble Russian osserta caviar is the best I’ve ever had. It has me coming back again and again.District One Kitchen & Bar
Beef Carpaccio — thinly sliced ribeye, citrus soy, sesame & truffle oil, and peanut.
Pho Oxtail — oxtail and rice noodle soup. My go-to dish.
House Special Oyster. Always incredibly fresh.
Soho Japanese Restaurant
When I go in, I typically just leave my order up to the sushi chef. The fish is amazing and fresh, and I always leave feeling impressed. Every time is better than the next.
Why do you enjoy going there?
Forte European Tapas Bar + Bistro — I really enjoy going [to Forte] to see Nina and Stephan. Over the years, we’ve become really good friends, so it feels like family when I walk through the doors. I always know that I’m going to get amazing food — but most importantly, they truly treat me like family. A great place to enjoy food and wine, and of course… can't forget about Gypsy Juice!
District One Kitchen & Bar — I really enjoying going here. The food is always solid, the seafood is on point, and it has a great, friendly vibe. The oxtail pho is my go-to dish every time, but they always have great specials to choose from. It’s a great place to take guests from out of town and show them where us locals dine.
Soho Japanese Restaurant — They’re very creative, and the service is amazing. One of big reasons I go there is because it’s close to my house — but the main reason is that the fish is simply amazing.
Would you like to include any other information?
A couple other dishes I love around town are the lamb chops at N9NE Steakhouse and the homemade tofu at Raku (everything that chef Mitsuo Endo cooks is amazing). All of these places are great, and where I always feel at home.