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 readers to these potential discoveries, Eater Vegas enlisted some of the city's food players to share their recommendations for a feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Luke Palladino came on board as the executive chef of Salute Trattoria Italiana, the Italian restaurant at Red Rock Resort from Clique Hospitality, back in February. Palladino worked with luminaries such as Paul Bertolli, Jeremiah Towers, Emeril Lagasse and Todd English, opening Onda Ristorante at the Mirage as the executive chef when it debuted in 1999 until 2001. He worked in Venice, Italy, opened the Aspen outpost of Olives as chef de cuisine and then took his talents to Atlantic City to open Specchio, Ombra and Risi Bisi at the Borgata. The Culinary Institute of America grad closed his restaurants Luke Palladino Seasonal Italian Cooking in Linwood, New Jersey, LP Steak at Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and Palladino’s on Passyunk in Philadelphia last year in September. Here he shares some of his favorite places to dine when he’s not serving Italian fare.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
I was living in Italy. I came home for a visit and Elizabeth Blau introduced me to Steve Wynn in New York; next thing I knew I was flying with Steve Wynn on his jet the next day to see Vegas for the first time. That was in 1998 when the Bellagio was about to open and Steve wanted to update the restaurants at the Mirage. I received VIP treatment for a weekend and was sold. Next thing I knew I was moving to Vegas within a few weeks to open Onda at the Mirage with Todd English.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
I moved here last September this time around to work with Andy Masi and Clique Hospitality. I love Vegas. It is a fun town with lots to do and refreshingly customer-service oriented, not to mention the great weather and I enjoy living near the West Coast again.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
Du-Pars at the Suncoast. Best pancakes on the planet.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
Chada Thai. Great little place, comfortable, thoughtful service and amazing wine list with killer deals for Riesling and Burgundy lovers. My favorite dishes are nua dad diew with homemade beef jerky; lo-ba, a braised and fried pig’s ear, tongue and heart; yum kai nok kata, fried quail eggs with dry shrimp and a spicy lime dressing; and pad kee mao drunken noodles with crispy duck.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
Now that it is football season, I like to go to Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar to hang in the lounge and watch games on the big screen TV. Chef Brian Massie makes the best burger in Vegas. I eat one every Sunday.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
You’ll find me at La Casa Cigar bar at Tivoli Village — great people, music/vibe, cigars and cocktails
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]