The amiable executive chef at the Palms’ Nove Italiano, Geno Bernardo falls comfortably between the dueling dining worlds of Las Vegas. His restaurant is just off the Strip, and while he cooks for plenty of tourists, he’s more closely connected to the local food scene than most of his peers. When he’s not in the kitchen, Bernardo is visiting local farming friends in Pahrump, playing golf near his Southern Highlands home or hanging out with his crew at his favorite foodie haunts.
Forte (4180 S. Rainbow Blvd., 220-3876)
“I love, love, love going to Forte,” Bernardo says. “I lived a long time in Manhattan, in Boston and in Providence, and that place really has that homey feeling that takes me back to growing up back east.” He characterizes the cuisine at Forte as Eastern European with a touch of Spain. “They’re in their own little league. They do an amazing foie gras, but you’ve got to have the Bulgarian-style pizza, a torpedo of bread with egg and cheese. You’ll come home stuffed.”
Saturday Night Truck Stop at Tommy Rocker’s (4275 Dean Martin Drive, 261-6688)
You can catch this chef and many others at this after-hours, industry-friendly event, where multiple mobile vendors team up with Tommy Rocker’s to create a mini food fest every Saturday night. “It’s a staple of my week. I really like the food truck culture, and it’s really part of our culture for chefs and restaurant people. I go to see faces, check in with people you haven’t seen for a while. And Tommy Rocker’s puts on a great show.”
Bread & Butter (10940 S. Eastern Ave., 675-3300)
The popular Anthem-area bakery is one of Bernardo’s new daytime faves, thanks to its case full of tempting sweets and selection of fresh sandwiches. “I try to go there before work. [Baker Chris Herrin] is doing a great job. I love the fact that younger chefs are doing their own thing off the Strip, and just killing it. I love going there.”