Show 405, December 26, 2020: Al Mancini, Food Staff Writer, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Al Mancini of the Las Vegas Review JournalOne of our most reliable sources of accurate restaurant news in fabulous Las Vegas is Al Mancini, who is a staff writer for The Las Vegas Review-Journal covering food, restaurants and other aspects of entertainment. Al has been working the Vegas food scene for 19 years. He was one of the creators of the popular, and widely referenced, Eating Las Vegas restaurant guidebook series.

Al joins us with Part 2 of his quarterly update on the Las Vegas dining scene. He’s sharing an insider’s overview of what’s new including the diverse menu offerings (think quality New York-style bagels and banh mi) at local food personality Jolene Mannina’s Vegas Test Kitchen on Fremont Street. Al also remembers visionary entrepreneur Tony Hsieh (co-founder of Zappos) who is credited with reviving the (now vibrant) dining scene in Downtown Las Vegas. It was ultimately a tidy $350 million dollar investment.

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Show 401, November 28, 2020: Executive Chef & Partner Barry Dakake, Barry’s Downtown Prime, Circa Resort, Las Vegas Part One

Barry Dakake of Barrys Downtown Prime“Vintage glamour and hospitality meet modern innovation and design at Barry’s Downtown Prime at Circa Resort in Downtown Las Vegas. The new steakhouse concept is from Chef Barry Dakake and his seasoned hospitality partners at Make It Happen Hospitality, LLC. Barry’s Downtown Prime delivers the city’s finest premium steaks and seafood, fresh tableside preparations, creative cocktails and outstanding service.”

“Evoking a throwback vibe worthy of Downtown Las Vegas’ legacy, Barry’s brings back guests to the classic cool of the 50s and 60s where great music and sounds of clinking martini glasses filled the air, the chef greeted you at the table, the polished bartender knew your favorite cocktail and everyone felt like a VIP.”

“Barry’s Downtown Prime has brought back the classic Vegas Steakhouse to Fremont Street. The restaurant design is inspired by old school Vegas Steakhouses which had a sense of place and timeless appeal. The striking design brings together classic cool ambiance of the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s in combination with the modern and hip vibe of Circa.”

Chef Barry Dakake takes a respite from his busy kitchen to join us.

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Show 401, November 28, 2020: Executive Chef & Partner Barry Dakake, Barry’s Downtown Prime, Circa Resort, Las Vegas Part Two

Barry Dakake of Barrys Downtown Prime“Vintage glamour and hospitality meet modern innovation and design at Barry’s Downtown Prime at Circa Resort in Downtown Las Vegas. The new steakhouse concept is from Chef Barry Dakake and his seasoned hospitality partners at Make It Happen Hospitality, LLC. Barry’s Downtown Prime delivers the city’s finest premium steaks and seafood, fresh tableside preparations, creative cocktails and outstanding service.”

“Evoking a throwback vibe worthy of Downtown Las Vegas’ legacy, Barry’s brings back guests to the classic cool of the 50s and 60s where great music and sounds of clinking martini glasses filled the air, the chef greeted you at the table, the polished bartender knew your favorite cocktail and everyone felt like a VIP.”

“After leaving New York in 1999, Chef Dakake was commissioned by Chef Charlie Palmer (Aureole) to open Aureole at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, followed by Charlie Palmer Steak, the first independently owned restaurant ever to be located in a Four Seasons Hotel. Chef Barry then brought his talents to be part of the opening team of N9NE Steakhouse at the highly anticipated Palms Resort Casino in 2001.”

“In 2017, N9NE Steakhouse closed it’s doors after 16 years to make way for a new concept, which Chef Dakake facilitated. As Executive Chef for Scotch 80 Prime he played an instrumental role in putting the restaurant on the Vegas dining map. Since then Chef Barry has joined with Yassine Lyoubi, Marco Cicione and Donnie Rihn to bring the ambitious Barry’s Downtown Prime to life at Circa Las Vegas.”

Chef Barry continues with us, fresh Maine lobster in hand.

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Show 377, June 13, 2020: Las Vegas’ Lip Smacking Foodie Tours and Finger Licking Foodie Tours Part One

Donald Contursi of Lipsmacking Foodie ToursFood lovers are now able to eat and explore their way through Downtown Las Vegas like never before with a pair of private, self-guided, e-assisted culinary tours created by Finger Licking Foodie Tours. The brand-new company represents a follow-up, companion business to the successful Lip Smacking Foodie Tours created by Las Vegas entrepreneur and hospitality-industry veteran, Donald Contursi.

The new self-guided Finger Licking Foodie Tours (Downtown Fremont East and Arts District) offers guests a fun and innovative way to support three top restaurants in the Las Vegas community, while enjoying an array of Instagramable dishes in one outing. Each tour requires a minimum of just two patrons, so guests can safely dine with their closest family and loved ones.

Don Contursi joins us with the delectable details.

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Show 377, June 13, 2020: Las Vegas’ Lip Smacking Foodie Tours and Finger Licking Foodie Tours Part Two

Donald Contursi of Lipsmacking Foodie ToursFood lovers are now able to eat and explore their way through Downtown Las Vegas like never before with a pair of private, self-guided, e-assisted culinary tours created by Finger Licking Foodie Tours. The brand-new company represents a follow-up, companion business to the successful Lip Smacking Foodie Tours created 5 years ago by Las Vegas entrepreneur and hospitality-industry veteran, Donald Contursi.

“With restaurant capacities limited due to public health restrictions and reservations at the hottest restaurants challenging, Finger Licking Foodie Tours provide immediate VIP seating with signature dishes served fresh, shortly after arrival. Tours are “led” by a virtual tour guide who provides a map of the route, interesting tidbits along the way and a guided walk through Downtown Container Park to support local small businesses.”

“This tour provides an intimate and personalized foodie experience,” explains Contursi. “Guests receive an online map, as well as a link to an innovative virtual tour guide who provides commentary for each fascinating stop along the way including a walk- through Downtown Container Park to support small businesses. On this 2.5-hour experience in the city’s exciting, revitalized downtown, guests will visit three acclaimed restaurants, enjoying superb service and three unforgettable dishes at each venue.”

Don Contursi continues to entice us with the specifics of his new, self-guided VIP foodie experiences.

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Show 368, April 11, 2020: Chef Michael Stamm, MGP Specialty Food and Cured & Whey, Las Vegas

Michael Stamm of MGP Specialty FoodIf you’re in the gourmet specialty food business Las Vegas is the land of opportunity in normal times. There are multiple high-end, fine-dining restaurants located on The Strip as well as in the affluent suburbs of Summerlin and Henderson. Downtown Las Vegas has been enjoying an independent dining revival, too. A great local success story for 21 years is Chef Michael Stamm of MGP Specialty Food. “Specialty Products for the Gourmand.”

His gourmet specialty food retail operation for the public is Cured & Whey. They offer one of the most impressive cheese and charcuterie board selections available in Las Vegas. During the health crisis all soft and hard cheeses are being sold at deep discounts. Cured & Whey also stocks the essential pantry items. Curbside pickup is available.

“It takes a lot of care and integrity to procure just the right products and deliver above and beyond what our customers need and want,” said Chef Michael. Chef Michael’s philosophy is indeed a reflection of his commitment to quality and the extraordinaire.  He shares his manufacturers’ passion for excellence and takes great pride in the products and manufactures he personally selects to represent.

Chef Michael brings out the foie gras just for us and explains how he is navigating this unheard of time where Las Vegas is essentially closed for visitors.

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Show 323, May 11, 2019: Wyndee Forrest, Co-Founder, CraftHaus Brewery, Henderson

Wyndee Forrest of CraftHaus BreweryThe CraftHaus Brewery team is not only passionate about craft beer, but also sharing it with their Las Vegas community. They were established in Henderson is 2014.

“Co-owners and married couple, Wyndee and Dave Forrest, conjured up the big idea for CraftHaus Brewery while traveling through Europe. They noticed that they were immersed in a craft beer culture where people take their time to enjoy quality beer just as much as they enjoy talking to the people around them.” Now, they have brought that effervescent culture back home and continue to build their Las Vegas community one refreshing pint at a time.

Along the way Wyndee and Dave were successful in changing city licensing to a more modern, craft friendly license. Dave’s craft beer roots started with a passion for homebrewing and bringing people together around a beer or two. Wyndee’s background is in working as a publicist on the famed Las Vegas Strip. They are both University of Nevada, Las Vegas graduates.

CraftHaus Brewery is part of Saturday night’s “A Smokin’ Good Time with Susan Feniger” at Border Grill Mandalay Bay as an event for Vegas Uncork’d. Among the thirst-quenching styles served will be one created just for the festivities, Blood Orange Pale Ale.

In other CraftHaus Brewery news they will soon be opening a 2nd tasting roomlocated right across the street from Chef James Trees’ Esther’s Kitchen in the Arts District of Downtown Las Vegas.

Wyndee taps the keg for us.

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Show 323, May 11, 2019: Donald Contursi, Founder & President, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, Las Vegas

Donald Contursi of Lipsmacking Foodie Tours“In Vegas, you may need Lady Luck at the gambling tables, but not at the dining ones. Not when you rely on Lip Smacking Foodie Tours’ award-winning culinary walking tours that ensure a delicious payoff in the best bites this exciting city offers.”

“Our mission at LIPSMACKING foodie tours is to introduce visitors and locals alike to the best signature dishes, unique preparations and exciting tastes in Las Vegas. The mouths behind Lip Smacking Foodie Tours love food, eating, dining and experiencing. This quartet of passions originally inspired us to pursue careers in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. And ultimately, after years in the game, we created Las Vegas’ premier walking tour company exclusively geared toward those craving the ultimate taste of Las Vegas.”

“Book a tour today and you will be privy to a day or night adventure at up to four top restaurants, on the Strip or downtown, hosted by the citys culinary insiders who will entertain you with fascinating stories about Vegas. At each restaurant, you’re a VIP, whisked to the best table to enjoy 3 to 4 signature dishes at each stop. We take the gamble out of finding the most Lip Smacking tastes among the more than 330 restaurants on the Strip.”

President & Founder Donald Contursi is our guide.

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Show 251, December 9, 2017: Food Journalist Al Mancini, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Al ManciniThe delightfully opinionated Al Mancini took on the dream assignment for any food journalist of becoming the food reporter for The Las Vegas Review-Journal just about a year ago. He’s an unabashed fan of Fabulous Las Vegas. He also faithfully covers the happenings in the revived Downtown Las Vegas including the vibrant restaurant scene there.

Al discovered his passion for food while living in New York City, where he attended law school by day, tended bar and made pizza at the infamous punk club CBGB by night, and explored the Big Apple’s dynamic dining scene during every spare moment in between.

Previously Al has written extensively about food and dining for numerous local, Las Vegas lifestyle publications. He is the co-creator of Eating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants guidebook which launched with the 2011 Edition.

Al is celebrating a B-I-G Birthday this weekend and we pull him away from the festivities for a chat.

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Show 234, July 29, 2017: Journalist Al Mancini, Las Vegas Review-Journal

Al ManciniJournalist Al Mancini is well-known in Las Vegas hospitality circles. He’s been reviewing restaurants there for over 15 years. In 2011 he co-created the first edition of the definitive Las Vegas dining guideEating Las Vegas – The 50 Essential Restaurants. Late last year he joined the Las Vegas Review-Journal as a staff writer primarily covering the food, restaurant and libations beat.

We’ll chat with Al about the rise of Downtown Las Vegas as a dining destination and also get updated on other local foodie news of note.

One of Al’s picks for Downtown Las Vegas dining is The Carson Kitchen. It’s actually expanding. It’s something of a homage to its founding chef/owner, the late Kerry Simon.

Al is also a brunch fan. Right before his “SoCal Restaurant Show” interview he was at the newly expanded Ping Pang Pong in The Gold Coast enjoying their highly regarded dim sum. On Friday he was brunching at Sugarcane located on The Strip at The Venetian. Al points out that it’s one of the few spots in Las Vegas with a Weekday brunch option.

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