Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 4:04 p.m.
Planet Hollywood tycoon Robert Earl’s Buca di Beppo restaurants were voted No. 1 casual-dining Italian restaurant by Nations Restaurant News. Robert’s chain -- we have three here in Las Vegas -- beat Carrabas in 2nd and The Olive Garden in 3rd.
Bellagio’s Diane Silvey won the top $15,000 prize at the 28th annual Nightclub & Bar Convention & Trade Show here last month in the seventh-annual Shake It Up contest. She created an original recipe for a cocktail featuring Larceny Bourbon, Patron XO Cafe and Pama Pomegranate Liqueur.
Former Hard Rock Hotel and Station Casinos Marketing Director Michael Toney has been hired as executive director of hotel sales for the new SLS hotel on the Strip.
The company is converting the former Sahara and will open in fall 2014 with more than 1,600 guests rooms and suites, plus, 35,000 square feet of convention space. SLS will offer four nightlife experiences and a 10,000-square-foot Fred Segal retail experience with seven boutiques as the exclusive retailer at the hotel.
BAR-B-Q STAR CHEFS: In its 39th year, the annual UNLVino expands to a fourth day April 21, with chefs Scott Conant, Angelo Sosa and Gustav Mauler launching Bar-B-Q at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Local farmers will provide fresh spring produce at this first Bar-B-Q honoring MGM President Scott Sibella.
Six other restaurants will join in with farm-fresh fare. UNLVino starts April 18 with Bubble-Licious at The Venetian, then April 19’s Sake Fever at The Mirage, the Grand Tasting at Paris Las Vegas on April 20 and now the Sunday BAR-B-Q closing capper all to benefit our Harrah College of Hotel Administration at UNLV.
FOOD WINNERS: Five of the restaurants on Open Table’s list of 100 hottest venues are in Las Vegas. Chef Jose Andres from The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas scored, but with his Bazaar outlets at SLS in Beverly Hills and Miami. He will open a Bazaar in the new SLS here. Two STK outlets, one in South Beach and the other at The Cosmopolitan, made the list. The other winners: Firefly in Henderson, Lavo and Sushi Samba in Palazzo, Tao in The Venetian and N9NE Steakhouse in the Palms.
Caroline Potter, chief dining officer of Open Table, said in a press release: “I’m not surprised so many Las Vegas hotel restaurants were rated so high on the list. Las Vegas is at the forefront of a lot of high-profile chefs with their brands and concepts.”
ARTIST GUITARS: Chef Charlie Palmer has recruited 100 artists for a fundraising event for Autism Community Trust he founded here when his son was affected with the disorder. Charlie gave each artist a guitar for his April 26 “Artists for Autism” auction at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. They have turned the instruments into amazing works of art. Tickets are $100 per person for the dinner with Charlie’s celebrity chef pals, entertainment, cook book signings and the guitar auction.
Singer Aaron Carter, younger brother of Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys, is at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip.
There’s a rally for local tennis star and U.S. Davis Cup player Sam Querrey at Darling Tennis Center.
It’s “the week Vegas goes country,” and the star-studded invasion of 130 artists for the 48th annual Academy of Country Music Awards is under way. We’ve got a preview of concerts at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday and Monday, the ACM Experience all weekend at The Orleans, plus, the free downtown Fremont Street concerts. Plus, our interview with The Quad comedy juggler Jeff Civillico on the Saturday premiere of his new Travel Channel reality TV show.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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