Steak. Celebrities. Fine dining. This is the world of Barry Dakake, Rhode Island-native, cancer survivor, executive chef of N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms. Dakake helped open the resort, and in the years since he’s seen locals and visitors become regulars at his sleek, modern steakhouse. “People come back for the food, the atmosphere, the consistency,” he says. And when Dakake’s off the clock? He ditches the Strip and heads to places where the food is good and the vibe is casual.
New York Pizza & Pasta (2400 S. Jones, 871-1159) East Coasters always reminisce about the food back home, but Dakake’s found a tasty stand-in with this mom and pop Italian joint. “It reminds you of the places in Rhode Island and in the North End in Boston,” Dakake says of the restaurant, singing the praises of its Italian wedding soup, among other dishes. “The New York Times is on the table with the New York Post … You gotta go see this guy. He’s just classic. He’ll make you feel so at home.”
Off the Strip (10670 Southern Highlands Parkway, #102, 202-2448) “It’s a homestyle place,” Dakake says of this Southern Highlands favorite. “It’s above and beyond the regular off-the-Strip restaurant.” And it’s not just because Dakake takes refuge every now and then in Off the Strip’s cigar room. “The food is really good. Even though he’s not Italian, [the chef’s] meatballs are really good.”
Levy’s Bagels & Deli (7875 W. Sahara Ave., 463-9200) “The cool thing about it is no one knows it’s there,” Dakake says of this classic deli, where the bagels are made by Rob Levy himself. “They have everything. Corned beef, pastrami; he’s making his own rye bread.” The chef pauses as if imagining what he’d order at this very moment. “My mouth’s watering just thinking about it.”