Bar Zazu, the tapas restaurant and European cafe from vice president and partner Jason Rocheleau and executive chef Nicole Brisson, embraces a Madonna vibe from its spot sandwiched between the duo’s Italian restaurant Brezza, Eater Vegas’s Restaurant of the Year in 2021, and Eight Cigar Lounge at Resorts World. A series of portraits containing the Ladies of Zazu line one wall overlooking the oversized booths, while striking fuchsias, blues, and purples visually define the space along the District, the 70,000-square-foot shopping esplanade that sits on Las Vegas Boulevard.
The 140-seat restaurant opened in late December with wines from around the world served by the glass, bottle, and flights, along with European beers and cocktails. Brisson, a James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef Southwest in 2020, teamed up with chef de cuisine Arnold Corpuz to come up with hot and cold tapas, cheese and charcuterie, and sweet and savory pastries. The restaurant splits into two halves; one to the left of the entrance with charcuterie and a grab-and-go section meant for breakfast and lunch, and the other on the right a darker, sexier look with a mirrored bar anchored in between.
“For us, it’s such a social and shared experience and we did the portions accordingly,” Rocheleau says. “I think we priced it out as well. We really came in approachable because we wanted people to just have fun with it.”
Rocheleau says AK Design looked to Madrid, Barcelona, and Milan for inspirations for the wall of women, electronic art that slowly moves and changes as the night progresses. There’s Sophia, the Heathers, Genoveva, Isabella, and Scarlett, women that evoke the whimsical dadaism style. Each has her own cocktail reflecting her personality.
Diners can order pan con tomate; roasted beets with charred oranges and beet vinaigrette; a chilled seafood pasta with shrimp, mussels, clams, and citrus-basil vinaigrette; ceviche with leche de tigre; or Creekstone steak tartare with egg yolk and brioche. And that’s just for cold tapas.
Over on the warm side, lollipop wings come with arbol chili and Cabrales blue cheese; a chorizo flatbread features Spanish goat cheese; and vegan fried broccolini gets a kick with Calabrian aioli and lemon. Other warm tapas include patatas bravas with saffron aioli; bunuelos de bacalao with salt cod and garlic aioli; charred Spanish octopus with chorizo, gremolata, almond, and romesco; and a lamb T-bone with roasted squash puree.
For a taste of Spain’s famous paella, the Bobo chicken and seafood comes with Spanish shrimp, mussels, chicken, chorizo, peas, tomato, and saffron. An early fan favorite brings bone marrow for two with trumpet mushrooms, pickled mustard seeds, and toasted brioche. “It’s a showstopper, for sure,” Rocheleau says. “Chef definitely went back to her butchery days for that.”
Diners can wrap up a meal with vanilla Parisian flan, a raspberry dessert with rich dark chocolate mousse, raspberry gelee, and chocolate cake, or frutta luna with kiwi, mango, and coconut sorbet from pastry chef Jorge Luque.
“We have like 25,000 concepts,” Rocheleau says of focuing the menu on tapas. “I think it was literally looking at the size of space and understanding what else was in the hotel and how we have something very unique.”
Bar Zazu even offers breakfast for dine-in and grab-and-go from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. daily. Head to the charcuterie bar for an egg and cheese croissant, prosciutto sandwich with a sunny-side-up egg, seafood fregola, or a sandwich such as a Cuban, muffuletta, or Caprese panino. “You can walk up a new adventure every day,” says Rocheleau, who notes that the bread and pastries are all baked in-house.
The Ladies of Zazu each have their own cocktail, created by bar manager Jake Bliven. Sophia, for example, goes Italian with Ketel One and cava, with some lime, cucumber, hibiscus, and elderflower, while the Heathers prefer Sazerac rye, Pere Magliore Calvados, Cardamaro, Islay Scotch, maple bitters, and clove.
Miklos Katona, director of beverage for Brezza and Bar Zazu, brings in wines from the Iberian Peninsula and other parts of Europe and ramped up the fortified wine selection with sherry (from dry to sweet), port, and antic Madeiras. Bar Zazu also features a glass-enclosed wine room that seats six and can be reserved in advance.
Bar Zazu, Resorts World, 3000 Las Vegas Boulevard S., 702-676-6017. The restaurant is open for quick-service breakfast and lunch daily from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., as well as full-service dinner nightly from 5 to 10 p.m.