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.
Executive pastry chef for the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and master chocolatier Vincent Pilon started his formal culinary training at L’école Jean Ferrandi in France, then attended L’école de Paris des Métiers de la Table to learn more about the world of chocolate. Pilon worked in various pastry and chocolate shops throughout France before moving to the United States, where in 1996, he worked at Le Palais du Chocolat in Washington D.C. He moved to New York City to work with Francois Payard at the Payard Patisserie & Bistro before moving to Las Vegas. He worked as an assistant pastry chef at Bellagio and assistant executive pastry chef at the Rio, and most recently he was executive pastry chef at Mandalay Bay. At the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, he works on the resort’s culinary in-room dining and VIP menus. He also has a line of chocolates exclusive to the hotel. Here he shares some of his favorites places to dine in Las Vegas.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
My very first trip to Vegas was in 1993, when I was celebrating my 18th birthday. I was an apprentice in France, and with my first paycheck, I bought myself a trip to the southwest to tour California, Arizona, and Nevada. This was very memorable to me as this was my first trip to America! And as they say, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
My journey started in France. I had lived there until I was 22 years old. The East Coast had a similar vibe to Europe for me, but I was always attracted to the sunshine states on the West Coast. I was living in New York, and the opportunity to open Bellagio came to me in 1998. In New York, I was basically living on my friends’ couches with only a backpack full of clothes. I jumped at the chance to move to such a bright and sunny state, and it was a culture shock, but I fell in love with Las Vegas. It has been my home for the last 22 years.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
The Coffee Cup in Boulder City. It’s not the fanciest place, but it has the vibe of “America” and what I love about this country. It’s a great change of scenery and a nice little escape from the hustle and bustle of Vegas, but still so close to home.
What about lunch?
Big B’s Texas BBQ. I love the ribs and brisket. As soon as you walk in, you’re hit with the aroma of the smoked meats. It’s also a great place to go to watch one of my favorite sports teams. Go Pack Go!
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
Trattoria Italia, located on Eastern Avenue. It’s a low key place, but the owners are from Italy, so they know good Italian food. It’s not Americanized; it’s definitely authentic Italian.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
Scarpetta at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The food and service are top notch. I love to dine in a place where I can have an intimate conversation with whomever I’m with. It’s rare to dine in a restaurant on the Strip where it’s not too loud, and I love to be able to relax and have a great meal there. The short rib agnolotti, duck and foie gras ravioli, and the branzino are my absolute favorite dishes.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
My ultimate favorite place to hang out with friends is at my house by the pool, but for a nice place to get together with friends after work is Yard House at Town Square. I love the wide variety of beer on tap and the fun atmosphere.
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]