Joe Isidori wants Las Vegas to know three things about his Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer, opening on Dec. 30 at the Venetian.
“Black Tap is all about three things — delicious All American burgers, out-of-this-world CrazyShake milkshakes, and craft beer,” says the owner and chef, whose DJT at Trump International earned a Michelin star in 2009.
He teams up with Chris Barish, who opened Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace and Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas.
Here the duo talks about their restaurant opening in the former B&B Burger & Beer space at the Venetian.
How did Black Tap come together in Las Vegas? What inspired you to open a location here?
Joe Isidori: Both Chris and I have a great history with Las Vegas. It’s where I won my Michelin star, and we’re excited to be back. Black Tap’s burgers are award-winning, our shakes are crazy, and what better place could there be for that combo than Vegas?
Chris Barish: I opened my first nightclub, Light at the Bellagio, in 2001. In fact, it will be almost 16 years to the day we are opening Black Tap at the Venetian. Las Vegas is a vibrant exciting city that l love, and a market I know well. The Venetian with their great restaurant brands seemed a natural fit for us.
What were you thinking about in terms of design of the restaurant?
JI: We had to go big in Las Vegas, and this is our first location with a signature CrazyShake Milkshake Bar. It’s going to be a theatrical, over-the-top bar, similar to a chef’s bar or table, where you can watch our milkshake makers create our whimsical CrazyShakes right in front of you. The design mirrors our New York style as well — black and white stripes, custom street art on the walls, all paired with awesome ’90s hip-hop music.
What was the menu testing process like? Do you have any dishes that are specific to Las Vegas?
CB: The menu tasting process was fun for us; we got to come together for the first time with the Venetian and our local Las Vegas staff to try things as a team and collaborate.
JI: We’ll have one burger that’s exclusive to Vegas — The Truffle Burger. Generally we don’t serve a truffle burger in New York City, but we needed a luxurious, scrumptious, craft-style burger, and the Truffle Burger is the perfect fit. It’s made with Australian Wagyu beef, black truffle, and yuzu-spiked arugula. It’s delicious. Our Vegas beer program is also unique, and will feature our classic New York brews like Brooklyn Brewery, and some West Coast breweries to incorporate a local feel to our craft beer program. My favorite West Coast beer on the menu is the North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner. We’ve also created a brand new craft cocktail program exclusive for Vegas. One favorite is the Aces High, made with aged rum, fresh lime, pineapple, and honey.
What’s the most unexpected thing that happened while opening the restaurant?
JI: Nothing unexpected as of yet. We’re off to the races with a fast-approaching opening, and hope it will be a big Black Tap hit.
CB: It’s been a great process so far. Everyone has come together to bring this place to a whole new level. It’s more than we could have imagined. There have been a few people trying to sneak a peek at the place or taste some food, but we’re used to that.
How about the craziest thing?
CB: The evolution of the milkshake from our first store of 15 seats and delicious classic shakes, to the CrazyShake to now the off-the-chart Shake Bar, which is the center and heart of the store and one of the grandest stages in town. We’re not in SoHo/Kansas anymore.
JI: I completely agree with Chris. It’s been crazy to go from this small little restaurant in SoHo to having a huge menu, and this great group of new team members supporting us. Training has been intense, but so informative, and we’re so excited about our new large family, who will serve Vegas with the highest levels of hospitality.
Once open, what’s the must-order dish?
JI: I always tell people to order the All American. It’s our No. 1 selling burger, and the classic, inspired by the cheeseburger deluxe on the menu of every New York diner of my childhood. It’s so good, it’ll have you coming back for more.
What's on tap for the future?
CB: We just opened our first European store this month in Geneva to great success and hope to expand to another location in Europe in 2018. We also have several openings planned in the Middle East. As of this week, we have two locations in Dubai. We are also opening our first California location at Disneyland at the end of 2018. It will be in the Downtown Disney District. We can’t wait.
JI: Black Tap world domination, baby.
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