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Taste-of-aria Photo Credit: Biondo Photo

The ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas is a great place to spend your vacation. Swimming pools, a spa, casinos, shopping, nightlife, and theater - they have it all. But it was the dining options that really excited me. There are over 15 choices in both the signature dining and casual dining categories. I recently tried a trio of French, Spanish and Italian cuisines. Below I recommend the places you absolutely cannot miss and the tastiest most authentic dishes to order. 

BARDOT Brasserie

ARIA BARDOTBrasserie Exterior

Photo Credit: Biondo Photo

James Beard Award-Winning Chef Michael Mina’s BARDOT Brasserie is a nod to the cafes of Paris. The menu reads like any of the best in Paris and your meal begins with excellent classic French baguettes, brought to the table warm, with butter, in paper bread sleeves.

Other French favorites include escargots with hazelnuts in puff pastry, foie gras parfait, fresh shellfish platters, croque madame, le steakburger made of prime rib, mussels mariniéres, roasted chicken, steak frites and other French favorites. Mina's French brasserie offers a polished central bar, upscale fare, a patio & a 1920s vibe. Dinner is served daily as well as weekend brunch, on the Promenade Level. The atmosphere is lively and the mixologists at the bar will gladly offer Parisian cocktails. The champagne cart showcases four French champagnes. Go and enjoy, but don’t plan to have an intimate conversation as this place gets noisy when full.

Julian Serrano Tapas

ARIA - Julian Serrano - Mixed Paella Photo Credit Biondo Photo

Photo Credit: Biondo Photo

Julian Serrano Tapas offers Spanish Tapas, Paella, Seafood, and Beef in small tapas portions. Serrano’s food is an interpretation of his native Spanish fare and there is much from which to choose. The menu is large with many choices. In addition to the tapas, there are six paella offerings, from the traditional Valenciani to paellas with vegetables, ribs, seafood, or mixed foods. Family size orders need a bit of time to prepare (45 minutes to an hour) but who is in a hurry? The chuleton is a 40 oz. bone-in rib eye with piquillo pepper confit, vegetables and fries. This order certainly feeds a crowd. But let’s get back to the tapas. Here are just a few of my favorites: stuffed medjool dates with goat cheese, pancetta and tomato marmalade; lobster gazpacho (served chilled); seared scallops with a romesco sauce; gambas (prawns) a la plancha (cooked on a griddle) with a lemon garlic oil dressing; imported Spanish “pate negra” ham, a black ham with a garlic tomato sauce.

And don’t get me started on their desserts. With 10 offerings I had to make some serious decisions. The arroz con leche or traditional Spanish rice pudding were my favorites but the churros or fried Spanish pastries with a spicy hot chocolate sauce was a close second. The churros were fried to perfection. Lunch and dinner is served daily on the Casino Level. Go with a big appetite!

FIVE50 Pizza Bar

ARIA - FIVE50 - Pizza in oven red medres Photo Credit BiondoPhoto

Photo Credit: Biondo Photo

FIVE50 Pizza Bar is named after the temperature of the wood-fired stone ovens at this lively pizza spot. James Beard Award- Winning Chef and Restaurateur Shawn McClain runs the show here. Although pizza is the name of the game here, there are other offerings such as Italian sandwiches, salads, a mozzarella bar, small plates, shakes, floats and craft beer. If you begin your meal with the garlic knots (rolls) with cheddar and garlic butter or the mushroom arancini, risotto balls with a roasted tomato sauce, you won’t go wrong. But I suggest the FIVE50 chopped salad made with soppressata, provolone and garlic oregano vinaigrette.

All this is a prelude to the signature pizzas, which are hand crafted with east coast flavors such as sausages, cheeses, and seafood, with a variety of sauces. I decided to try something different. The farmstead pizza has prosciutto, crème fraiche, and country olives with a farm egg on top. Very different and very delicious. Another popular offering is the Gotham pizza with pepperoni, sausage, salami, mozzarella and grana padano - for the meat lovers among us. Or build your own pizza. Or order 1 pizza with 2 choices. Shakes and floats round out the menu, from classic milkshakes to an Elvis shake with bananas and peanut butter to a s’mores shake with chocolate ice cream, graham crackers and marshmallows. I could go on and on. Lunch and dinner is served daily on the Casino Level and the slice counter is open late, 1 a.m. during the week and 3 a.m. on weekends.

A new restaurant is opening this fall at the ARIA. Carbone, with New York-inspired cuisine, pays homage to the Italian-American restaurants of the mid-20th century. Think Lobster Fra Diavola, Chicken Scarpariello, Veal Parmesan and Octopus Pizzaiolo.

For more cooking tips and notes about food, visit Sally's Place.

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