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.
Growing up in the Forgione family made it tough to avoid the restaurant industry. Bryan Forgione’s father, Larry, dubbed the “The Godfather of American Cuisine” for his use of seasonal, local ingredients at An American Place in New York City, paved the way for his sons. Big brother Iron Chef Marc Forgione has his eponymous restaurant in Manhattan. Bryan Forgione works as the executive chef at Buddy V’s Ristorante, the Italian restaurant from Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla of Blau + Associates. Bryan learned the kitchen working at An American Place and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. In 2008, he moved to Las Vegas to work as the executive chef at Encore Las Vegas’ Society Café before taking on Buddy V’s Ristorante. Fun side note, in 2012, he won on Food Network’s Iron Chef America, battling it out alongside his brother Marc. Here he shares some of his top dining picks in Las Vegas.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
I do. It was back in 2008. I found out very quickly that I wasn’t as good as I thought I was at roulette. After 15 minutes and empty pockets I made the decision if I was going to live here that I had to stay out of the casinos.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
I had been working in New York for a while and it was becoming more and more expensive. I was looking for a change of scenery and I was offered an opportunity over at Wynn. It was kind of a gut decision that felt like it was the right time and the family was all for it. I’ve been living in Summerlin for the last 10 years and love having the Red Rock mountains in my backyard.n
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
For a simple and casual breakfast with the family we go to The Cracked Egg, I get the same egg and potato skillet every time, so it’s a no brainer.
What about lunch?
My wife and I will go to Archi’s Thai Bistro, where they have an insanely cheap special lunch menu with a pretty solid curry and pad Thai, love their green papaya salad. I’ve recently had a few good experiences over at Rollin Smoke BBQ. My five-year-old boy CJ loves ribs, or how he calls them: Pig Bones.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
I just discovered Anna Marie’s Italian Cuisine on Tropicana where I met the pizzaiolo who is from the same neighborhood I grew up in New York. His dad worked at the best pizza joint out there and apparently passed on his skills. The pizzas are great.
Juan’s Flaming Fajita & Cantina is awesome. It’s hard to get in there without a long wait but it’s worth it. They serve you complimentary charred onions and chilis with your chips and salsa, which is the way do it. And the fajitas are fantastic. The abuelas are making tortillas fresh in the dining room. They set the fajitas on fire for fun and serve it on a cast iron contraption with a sterno that keeps it hot on your table, which is a nice touch.
Mott 32 is doing some great things in their barbecue kitchen. The chicken alone, done in that Peking style with the best skin you could possibly achieve, is worth going in for.
Honey Salt is always doing great themed dinners that change throughout the year. They’ll sometimes collaborate with other chefs and the menus are always seasonal and a lot of fun.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
Honey Salt does a great job with their brunch and they have a terrific staff.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
Hachi is a fun place to get a ridiculous amount of small delicious plates with a few beers, finish off with their colossal honey toast.
Raku has been a favorite for a while. That is always a great time.
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]