Aureole and the gravity-defying Wine Angels who floated to the top of the restaurant’s 10,000-bottle tower are leaving the Mandalay Bay Las Vegas for good to make room for a new restaurant by Michael and Bryan Voltaggio. After more than 20 years of serving artful cuisine inside one of Las Vegas’s most recognizable restaurants, chef Charlie Palmer is closing Aureole and two celebrity chefs are moving in with a one-year residency.
Chef Charlie Palmer opened Aureole on the Las Vegas Strip in 1999 and will permanently close the restaurant in the coming months to focus on other projects, according to a statement by Mandalay Bay. The outpost of his New York restaurant highlighted American cuisine, thoughtfully plated with a focus on complementary colors and textures. In 2017, executive chef Johnny Church joined Aureole to revamp the menu with a “less is more” approach. The one-page menu includes dishes like Spanish octopus, butternut squash tortellini, wagyu rib cap, and day boat scallops. But the real draw is the four-story wine tower, viewable from the overhead walkway at the restaurant’s entrance. When customers select a bottle, a silver catsuit-clad Wine Angel straps herself into a pulley system and gracefully floats up the tower, selecting just the right bottle and then descends — often with a twirl and a flourish.
The sudden announcement of Aureole’s closure is followed by one that the Voltagio brothers are moving into the 9,000-square-foot space for a one-year culinary residency. The “Top Chef” stars and restaurateurs are launching a new temporary restaurant called Retro by Voltaggio. During the one-year residency, the brothers will host a family-style and high-energy dining experience that aims to capture the tastes, sounds, and feelings of the 80s and 90s. “The 80s and 90s saw unforgettable moments in music, fashion, movies, TV shows, food, and countless trends that swept the nation,” said Michael Voltaggio. “With Retro, we will celebrate that nostalgia in every element of the experience while putting our spin on beloved dishes from the era.”
Hot off their residencies at the Bellagio, where the brothers hosted dinners at Harvest in fall of last year and again in January, they share that the menu at Retro will have new takes on Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, pot roast, lobster Thermidor, and other classics. It also promises a themed cocktail list, entertainment, art pieces, and soundtracks of the 80s and 90s. Bryan Voltaggio had been an extern at Aureole in 1997. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Palmer offered him a job there. “Chef Palmer has been an incredible mentor to both of us. From providing guidance and support throughout our careers to cooking with him in the kitchen at Aureole, we learned foundational knowledge and skills that fueled the passion and drive to deliver culinary excellence in all we do,” said the brothers in a statement.