Las Vegas Sun

March 24, 2019

Currently: 55° — Complete forecast

Columnist: Monte Carlo debuts Market Street, Dragon Noodle

ANOTHER OPENING, another show. Newest kid on the block is the Monte Carlo hotel-casino, which opened at midnight.

Patterned after the Place du Casino on the French Riviera, Monte Carlo is filled with crystal chandeliers and statuary.

There are seven restaurants: Blackstone's Steak House, Monte Carlo Pub & Brewery, a 700-seat buffet, a 24-hour cafe, Monaco Gardens Food Court and three eateries owned by a California trio known for their good food, the Market Street Caffe, the Dragon Noodle Company and the Golden Bagel in the food court.

Blackstone's Steak House features aged Midwestern beef cooked on an open-hearth mesquite-charcoal broiler, seafood and poultry. Houdini's Lounge, adjacent to the restaurant, is the place for a drink before or after dinner. Blackstone's hours are 6-11 p.m. Reservations are suggested.

Monte Carlo Pub & Brewery serves pizzas, sandwiches and pastas in an old warehouse setting -- five speciality ales and a Brewmaster's Special are brewed on the premises. Order a Sampler Special or individual brews. Live music and a view of the brewery are part of the fun. Hours are 11-1 a.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11-3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Monaco Food Court offers the Golden Bagel & Coffee, Haagen Dazs ice cream, McDonald's, Nathan's Hotdogs and Sbarro Italian foods.

The Market Street Caffe and the Dragon Noodle Company are concepts developed by Southern California restaurateurs Salvatore Casola, his son, Sal Jr., and Chipper Pastron. The imaginative partners have other locations in Pasadena, Burbank and the Beverly Center in Los Angeles. This is their first Las Vegas venture.

The day I visited with the trio they were hard at work putting the final touches to the two restaurants, which sit side-by-side. Each is beautifully designed with handsome appointments and many features.

The rustic design of the Market Street Caffe befits a county Italian restaurant in a patio setting. A wood-fired pizza oven and exhibition area allows a view of the pizza makers as they roll and spin the dough. Everything is homemade, from the pasta to the acclaimed bread sticks served with meals. A 36-foot antipasto bar ($7.80 per person; $4.65 with other food items) flanks one wall of the dining room. According to Sal Sr., the authentic Italian taste at the Caffe comes from recipes prepared by his two grandmothers from Naples. Prices are moderate. Pizzas ($7.25-$11.25), panini (sandwiches, $6.95-$7.25), pasta ($7.25-$12.95), grilled meats and poultry and fish and seafood are offered ($9.25-market price).

A great deal of thought and imagination has gone into the Dragon Noodle Company, the trio's Asian restaurant and tea emporium. Much of the food will be prepared in an open kitchen with teppan broilers and high-powered woks. The owners wanted the restaurant to be designed according to the principles of feng shui (pronounced fung shway), "a natural and intuitive practice based on symbolism." They engaged Angi Ma Wong, a noted intercultural consultant from California, to assure "the most auspicious energies." Following her recommendations, colors were changed and walls and fixtures rearranged. The changes assure very good feng shui.

Dragon Noodle Company has a complete menu of Asian specialities, including exotic drinks, small plates ($4.95-$6.75), salads ($5.75-$8.75), vegetables and rice ($5.50-$6.75), soup noodles ($5.25-$8.75), wok-tossed noodles ($7.50-$7.95) and poultry, beef, pork, roasted meats, fish and shellfish ($7.95-market price) dishes. A basket of crunchy zebra chips (sesame-coated wonton) are included.

The beautiful tea bar, a first for Las Vegas, features a choice selection available by the cup and by the package to brew at home. Well-known San Francisco tea consultant Roy Fong told me the Dragon Noodle Company offers some of the finest teas available. Soon there will be tea tastings at the bar. This tea drinker's cup runneth over at the thought.

Sal Jr. created the wine lists at both restaurants and they're excellent. Moderately priced wines as well as a separate carte of fine Reserve wines are available. Also available at Dragon Noodle are Asian and domestic beers, port, speciality iced teas and tea juice infusions and homemade ginger ale.

Both restaurants are open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday. Saturday at 11 a.m. the Immortals Fu Lion Dancers will celebrate the birth of the Dragon Noodle Company. At 5 p.m., at the restaurant's entrance, the Buddha Lion, harbinger of good luck, will prance and dance throughout the dining room with firecrackers, beating drums, gongs and crashing cymbals. The lion brings good luck; the firecrackers drive away evil spirits. This ancient combination should assure the success of this delightful new Asian eatery.

Short orders

* Now open: the second Sonia's Cafe and Rotisserie in the A Mall at Maryland Parkway and Sahara. Formerly the Flame Steakhouse, Sonia's newest location has new restaurant hours, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m; the same delicious food; a 24-hour bar with 50-cent draft and bottled beer and $1 well drinks around the clock; and some popular new additions to the menu -- hamburgers, and a 12-ounce New York steak ($9.95) served with a choice of salad and a choice of Sonia's potatoes, rice or beans. It's a terrific value. Appetizers are served in the bar after 10 p.m.

Eventually, breakfast service will start. The appealing breakfast selection is already on the menu.

* Holy Cow Casino and Brewery on the Strip at Sahara will moo-ve over to make way for Chicago-Chicago Casino. The casino will be expanded, a Big Dog's Chop House will be added and there will be "Chicago style" entertainment. Holy Cow will still produce the prize-winning hand-crafted brews

* Oops -- Trader Joe's Customer Appreciation Day is Saturday, not today as written in Tuesday's column.