Seven Reasons Why You’ll Line Up To Eat At Giada’s New Vegas Restaurant
Food Network star and cookbook author Giada De Laurentiis is in her own category: On one hand, she's never had her own restaurant -but unlike some of the other TV food personalities, she did go to cooking school, and train extensively in Europe. So it seems pretty obvious she could've opened an eatery a long time ago--if not several under her name by now. The fact that she is doing her first in Vegas, and on a "Vegas" scale, gives you an idea of how much thought went behind it.
A few days ago, I attended a luncheon press conference with Giada in which the stylish, impossibly fit chef detailed with some clarity how her restaurant will be distinct from the many other "celebrity chef" spots on the Strip. Here are the strongest reasons why I'm excited about eating in her restaurant.
* You'll feel like you're dining in Giada's own home.
The chef/restaurateur and her designer husband Todd Thompson worked closely with Studio Collective on the design of the space, which looks more like a breezy Brentwood or Malibu house than a typical slick dining room, is. Even the hostess podium, said Giada, was inspired by "a desk I have at home." As you enter, the first thing you'll see is a huge, inviting antipasto bar.
"I wanted this to be like a cross between Armani and Calvin Klein," Giada said of the restaurant space, "But not intimidating."
*You'll get to eat Giada's recipes! eightened" versions of some of her more popular TV/cookbook recipes, such as lemon spaghetti, lobster arancini, marsala herb chicken meatballs and lemon ricotta cookies (the latter three were served at the lunch, and all delicious). That should make it clearly distinct from the currently popular trend of "East Coast" red sauce Amer-Italian that has been dominating the Strip of late. Her chicken cacciatore presentation sounds almost like a ceremony!
*The food will actually be good for you!
Giada is focusing not just on flavor but quality and purity of ingredients. Both the breads and pastas will be made at stations right in the dining room. "We have gone so far away from real food in this society," she bemoaned. "I want my guests to feel good the next day, too. "
* Giada will be making pizza--and Chinese food?
De Laurentiis pointed out she would be making pizza in the restaurant "for the first time." That isn't exactly true, since you can see her pizza recipes all over the internet, but we're still confident the former resident of Rome knows how to make them well. And Chinese food? Well not exactly, but Giada says her Italian-inspired brunch will be served on roaming carts like Dim Sum. I guess we can expect some noodle dishes, at least.
* Giada will help bring attention to female chefs and restaurateurs.
No, Giada isn't exactly the first female chef, or even first female celebrity chef on the Strip (Don't believe everything Robin Leach plays up-- Border Grill's Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger were celebrity TV chefs when Giada was still in culinary school-- and there are several female Executive Chefs up and down the Strip (At CarneVino, Gordon Ramsay Steak and Rao's just to name three). But Giada's high profile and impressive balance of businessperson, mom and, well, model-hot looks is sure to draw the world's attention to the fact that yes, women can run big restaurants.
*It shouldn't be too hard to get a reservation.
The restaurant will be the only one in The Cromwell, so it will serve Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner daily--and eventually Brunch on weekends. And they will seat "almost 300." This might be the first time a celebrity chef has opened a first restaurant so ambitiously.
*There's a good chance Giada will actually be there.
"I will be here consistently," Giada told assembled media last week. While that's pretty much the mantra of all the celeb chefs (including the ones who come to Vegas no more than 4 weeks out of the year), in Giada's case, she doesn't have any other restaurants demanding her attention--yet--and her "day job" is in Los Angeles, a quick hour-long flight away.
"It's not just me," says Giada, "my family name is a big one. If I don't put something out there that makes my family proud, I might as well dig a hole and jump in." [For those who don't know, Giada's grandfather was legendary film producer Dino De Laurentiis, who not incidently got his start in the pasta business, and later opened two DDL Foodshow gourmet markets].
When you do go, I'm sure you'll want to get your picture with her--but please don't take up too much of her time. Let the woman do her job. We all want to eat!