Robin Leach

Counter Intelligence: Esquire names Julian Serrano one of the best

CityCenter chefs, from left, Jean-Philippe Maury, Todd English, Shawn McClain, Masayoshi Takayama, Sirio Maccioni, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Julian Serrano and Michael Mina pose for pictures at the opening of Aria at CityCenter in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009.
Photo: Tiffany Brown
Max Jacobson, John Curtas and Al Mancini.

Max Jacobson, John Curtas and Al Mancini.

Franck Savoy.

Franck Savoy.

Todd Williams.

Todd Williams.

Joey, one of 100 employees hired at Hash House A Go Go's new location at the M Resort and Casino, displays a fresh cheese quesadilla ready from the kitchen. Hash House opened its third valley location at the M on Thursday.

Joey, one of 100 employees hired at Hash House A Go Go's new location at the M Resort and Casino, displays a fresh cheese quesadilla ready from the kitchen. Hash House opened its third valley location at the M on Thursday.

Kenny Chesney and Sammy Hagar at Sammy's grand opening of Cabo Wabo Cantina at Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile on Dec. 4, 2009.

Kenny Chesney and Sammy Hagar at Sammy's grand opening of Cabo Wabo Cantina at Planet Hollywood's Miracle Mile on Dec. 4, 2009.

Star chef Julian Serrano is “over the moon” now that one of America’s most feared and revered food critics, John Mariani of Esquire, has bestowed blessings on his new tapas restaurant Julian Serrano in MGM CityCenter’s Aria as one of the 20 Best New Restaurants in 2010. Julian also runs his extraordinary Picasso in the Bellagio and will be doubly thrilled when he learns what my spies have discovered.

I can confirm reliably that one his restaurants is in the Top 10 and another one in the Top 50 that will appear next month in the eagerly awaited Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants written by Las Vegas culinary critic kings John Curtas, Max Jacobson and Al Mancini. Congratulations on all the stunning achievements!

Mariani has long been thought of as a foe of the food scene in Las Vegas. But his good friend Curtas, a respected food critic here for National Public Radio and Las Vegas Weekly, said, “His feelings about our dining scene have been misinterpreted.” Curtas goes further: “Mariani is a big fan of Las Vegas dining, but for some reason, a lot of people think he doesn’t like our town.” To prove the point, Mariani has even written the foreword to Eating Las Vegas.

“Unlike so many restaurant guides whose commentators are faceless and deliberately devoid of personality, the three experts here are never shy about giving real punch to their assessments. Since there is no such thing as objectivity when it comes to restaurant reviewing, the fierce subjectivity of Curtas, Jacobson and Mancini makes Eating Las Vegas authoritative, colorful and so damn fun to read. Had I the time and lots of money, I’d start on Page 1 and eat my way through all 50 restaurants here.”

Several of our finest local restaurants are battling to host the launch party, even though they don’t know if they’re included in the list. Pre-orders for the book at 50 percent off the $13 cover price are being taken through Friday through the Huntington Press Web site.

In religious circles, the second deadly sin is gluttony, the act of overeating with the finest of foods and wines the body can absorb. Mancini has taken it to heart and launched his food blog

*Franck Savoy, general manager of Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace, is now director of food and beverage for Caesars Palace. Savoy will execute property initiatives at all the restaurants and will continue to work with the restaurant’s new GM Alain Alpe. Savoy is the son of culinary legend Guy Savoy. Effective immediately, Savoy will oversee restaurants pairing him with star chefs including Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Bradley Ogden, Rao’s, Payard Patisserie & Bistro and Beijing Noodle No. 9.

“We selected Savoy because he is the true definition of customer service,” Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner said in a statement. “His pedigree, charm and personality, as well as his passion to inspire service, make him a fortuitous addition to our team.”

In more Caesars Palace news, chef Todd Williams has been named assistant executive chef for the casino resort. Williams will oversee the preparation of all menus at the property and will be charged with properly setting up all kitchens, buffets, banquets and more. Before his appointment, Williams served as chef de cuisine for Bradley Ogden, opening the restaurant in 2003.

“We are proud to be part of chef Williams’ evolution to the next level of his career,” said William Becker, Caesars Palace VP of food and beverage. “He has been an integral component to the success of Bradley Ogden, and with that and his incredible cooking skills and techniques, we're looking forward to chef Williams taking that skill set throughout our restaurants and dining experiences.”

*Hash House a Go Go opened its third location in Las Vegas last Thursday in The M Resort after a VIP grand opening party the previous night. An employee said Sunday night that the opening weekend was even busier than expected. Hash House, at the site of the former Red Cup Cafe, is open until 11 p.m. on weeknights and Sundays and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

*Rok Vegas at New York-New York is introducing a holiday cocktail called the Ginger Spice. The cocktail includes Absolut Vodka infused with real ginger, Goldschlager and Bailey’s and garnished with a 24K gold leaf wrapped on top of a cinnamon stick. The Ginger Spice is similar to an oatmeal cookie shot, but the ginger and cinnamon give the drink some spice.

*Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina’s first-ever food drive launched Monday and continues through next Monday. Cabo Wabo is collecting nonperishable food to benefit Three Square and its mission to provide a food solution for Southern Nevada. Generous patrons will receive 10 percent off their bill for donations. Cabo Wabo opens daily at 11 a.m.

*As spurs and Stetsons take over The Strip for the PBR World Finals, Rockhouse at Imperial Palace will take the bull by the horns as the unofficial hotspot for this year’s championships. Next Tuesday through Oct. 24, professional bull riders and fans can enjoy viewing parties, drink specials and everything PBR at Rockhouse. All week long, PBR enthusiasts can enjoy 2-for-1 beers, $5 shots and complimentary entry with PBR ticket stubs. Professional bull riders -- and those who dress like one -- receive $100 VIP bottle service Tuesday through Thursday. Rockhouse partygoers who present their receipt at PBR Rock Bar & Grill in The Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood receive 10 percent off the bill.

Vegas DeLuxe Editor Don Chareunsy contributed to this report.

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