Looking at Las Vegas’ food scene today, it’s hard to imagine that 20 years ago, the idea of the celebrity chef was a novelty. But in 1999, you could count in one hand the number of marquee names setting the pre-Insta culinary world atwitter. Chef Emeril Lagasse, a true pioneer in this city’s fine dining movement, dreamed of bringing the ocean to the desert, first with Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand in 1995, then Delmonico Steakhouse when the Venetian opened its doors three years later.
A classic steakhouse with a Creole twist—a nod to Lagasse’s New Orleans ties and named after the venerable Delmonico restaurant, located along the famed streetcar line on St. Charles Avenue—the Venetian outpost is celebrating a big birthday: two decades of offering some of the finest cuts of meat, along with seasonal fresh seafood, an award-winning wine list and an extensive whiskey collection.
“Back when we opened Steakhouse in 1999, there were only a handful of fine dining restaurants, and now [Las Vegas] is a global dining destination,” Lagasse tells the Weekly. “Visitors can taste the entire world in this city, at all different price points. It’s really incredible to think back on everything and have this perspective moving forward.”
Delmonico Steakhouse, which continues to set the standard upon which other steakhouses are measured, isn’t content resting on its accolades. One of its hallmarks is consistency, owing to the restaurant’s strong team—including Ronnie Rainwater, who started as a cook just a month after opening and has worked his way up to chef de cuisine. And staying relevant while adhering to a culinary philosophy that has served it well can be tricky in a town famous for being mercurial.
“I think a lot about our customers, who they are and what they want to experience,” Lagasse says. “I’m always thinking—and encouraging my teams to do so as well—about what’s next. Distinguished dining, stellar service, excellent wine and whiskey—these things will never go out of style. That’s who we are and who we always have been.Evolving is important, but so is staying true to our foundation.”
Delmonico Steakhouse Venetian, 702-414-3737. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5-10:30 p.m.