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December 20, 2014

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Counter Intelligence: Wing Lei for Chinese New Year, Bartolotta’s new look, N9NE Steakhouse’s revamp

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Barbara Kraft

Wing Lei’s updated, gold-and-jade dining room.

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Wing Lei's new bar.

Hot off the grill!

Hotel mogul Steve Wynn has given a whole new look to two of his most popular and busiest restaurants: Wing Lei and Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare.

The makeovers are stunning, and the two restaurants looked great even before he even ordered the refreshers. I didn’t know that Wing Lei is derived from the Chinese character for “Wynn,” which translated means “forever prosperous.” Now that’s appropriate!

WING LEI: At Wing Lei, redone in time for the beginning of Chinese New Year this Friday, patrons enter through a majestic dragon gate that reuses crystals from the original-design chandeliers. The walls are adorned with gold leaf and white textured horizontal stripes, and the luxurious dining chairs feature a leather-like material and an array of abstract flowers with gold sequence.

I recommend chef Xian Ming Yu’s modern and upscale Chinese cuisine: Australian lobster salad, the eight treasures-stuffed crispy chicken, Imperial Peking duck carved tableside, and the whole suckling pig is a masterpiece — but don’t tackle it by yourself.

The main dining room has become almost an open-air restaurant; the dark tones have been replaced with a bright-light look showcasing the jade-and-gold interiors. The pomegranate trees surrounding the one-of-a-kind gold dragon are 100 years old.

Talk about planning for every contingency. Behind the back bar are two antique earthquake sensors, and the half-turtle and half-dragon statues are designed to move if one is detected. The late Michael Jackson’s favorite private room, which seats 13, is still there but now no longer hidden.

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Bartolotta is a lot brighter after a quick renovation in late 2013.

BARTOLOTTA: It’s incredible because a knockout-beautiful restaurant with its outside water garden now restocked with handpicked prized Koi from Japan and cabana seating has become even more sensational looking. This is a trip to the Italian seaside with exquisitely prepared regional specialties emphasizing the freshest seafood and home pastas.

Here, too, Bartolotta has become lighter, brighter and fun. It’s a contemporary environment with cream-colored walls featuring rays of light. In fact, the visual centerpiece, a one-of-a-kind tornado of gold-leaf fish hanging from the atrium ceiling, shimmer in the light to represent a school of fish in the water.

Chef Paul Bartolotta has won numerous awards, and his dining room has been called “one of the finest restaurants on the American subcontinent.” His philosophical approach to cooking is traditional, regional and inventive, and they all fit together perfectly with authentic cuisine of coastal Italy. His daily live shellfish and gifts of the sea are presented on an overflowing cart that is the start of an extraordinary dining experience that transports one to the Italian seas.

His octopus salad is pure joy. Check out the marinated Mediterranean anchovies and the grilled white shrimp with scampi and spiny lobster. The whole Mediterranean fish in aromatic salt crust is a symphony of good taste. You can enjoy Paul’s Top Chef menu for $180 per person and add fresh white truffles for $90 additional per dish.

Worth every penny you can spend! After all, this is the food of Gods and Kings. Don’t miss the egg-filled ravioli, the seared sea scallops with imported porcini mushrooms and the Mediterranean turbot.

When Steve Wynn says “budgets be damned,” he means it, and just when you thought he couldn’t make his restaurants any better than they already are, he astounds by transforming them even more.

Revamped N9NE Steakhouse at Palms

N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms has a revamped look and new menu items. Launch slideshow »

N9NE STEAKHOUSE: N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms has a sexy new look but the same star chef in Barry Dakake, who has added several menu additions to his signature dishes. Although its been transformed with soft lighting, delicate draperies and fine fabrics over new furniture, N9NE is still sexy and modern with a high-energy music environment.

The center table is wrapped under a canopy of drapes accented by a custom-made chandelier and is part of the property’s $50 million renovation. N9NE is home to such regulars as Floyd Mayweather Jr., Dana White, Robin Thicke and Paula Patton, Brody Jenner, Pharrell Williams and Holly Madison.

Chef Barry now serves a whopping 48-ounce prime rib eye Tomahawk steak, and it is for two people. If you think that’s big, check out the 3-pound lobster thermidor. My favorite is and always will be the Dover Sole.

He’ll even let you cook his s’mores at the table for dessert, and backstage in his kitchen, Barry has the most incredible collection of Hollywood, sports and music stars’ autographs scrawled on his doors.

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.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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