Dine and dance ... Vegas style

Dine and dance ... Vegas style

LAS VEGAS -- Dinner and a show. In modern Las Vegas, a Sin City that has successfully re-constructed and re-invented itself despite the economic downturn, a romantic night out is often first-class. Both on the stage and on the plate.

"Las Vegas is now a destination point for a world-class, fine dining experience," says Lauren Bower, public relations manager for the elegant Wynn Las Vegas, one of the most upscale of all Vegas hotels. She is talking both about Las Vegas as a whole -- the self-appointed Entertainment Capital of the World -- and about her hotel specifically.

In one of nine restaurants at the Wynn, chef Paul Bartolotta makes a foodie's dream come true at the Bartolotta Ristorante de Mare that bears his name. It rates extremely highly among food critics for its cuisine, service, ambiance and wine list. Live seafood is flown in daily from the Mediterranean. The al fresco-designed dining room overlooks a courtyard featuring a lagoon and dancing fountains bathed in light.

It may be an illusion, but at least an echo of the Italian Rivera is alive here -- and your tastebuds sense that the illusion is real in the food. Plus, for all its posh, the restaurant is welcoming and never intimidating to visitors.

Bartolotta Ristorante de Mare is the kind of establishment that signals the death knell of the infamous all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet, which apparently originated as a lure for bettors to linger longer at the El Rancho in the 1940s. While it still does thrive in some of the second-rate joints, the buffet is now just a secondary choice or a quick convenience in the major hotel-casinos. Anyone with a real passion for quality cuisine bypasses the buffets and goes to the best restaurants, many housed inside those hotel complexes.


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