Michael Mina might be a true San Franciscan, but like any good partner in a long-distance relationship, he knows exactly what his Las Vegas restaurants need and when they need it.
It’s been 20 years since Mina made his Vegas debut with Aqua at Bellagio and 14 years since he replaced it with his namesake restaurant. Now he’s decided to reinvent that vision once more.
“We sat down with [Bellagio President and COO] Randy Morton and said, ‘What are we going to do?’” Mina says during a recent tasting dinner. “I said I don’t want to do a new concept, I want to do Michael Mina 2.0.”
In addition to a remodel designed to mimic a seaside market experience, the space has transformed into “a fish restaurant with no boundaries,” as the chef describes it. The focus is the market list menu, which includes charcoal-grilled shellfish, spice-crusted and whole-fried branzino, a melt in your mouth ginger and scallion broiled kona kampachi and more.
“We never had anything that did this,” Mina says, gesturing toward the windows of the new private dining room that looks into the whimsical Bellagio atrium, which will allow guests to dine among blooming cherry blossoms and purple orchids. It’s a big change, but don’t worry: Signature dishes like the lobster pot pie and caviar parfait are still there.
“Most of all I wanted to bring it back to a fish restaurant,” Mina said. “I always felt like this really should be the best fish restaurant in Las Vegas. It should be looked at as the fish restaurant at Bellagio, because that’s what Aqua was about, and that’s where it all started.”
MICHAEL MINA Bellagio, 702-693-7223. Monday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m.