Updated August 31, 2020 - 12:05 pm
The last time we wrote of Pizzeria Monzu, it was to spotlight owner Gio Mauro’s wondrous, homemade bread. He and his wife, Las Vegas singer Naomi Mauro, were offering sourdough loaves for takeout for $7 apiece. Those loaves became a Phase One Vegas shutdown hit.
We’re revisiting Monzu now, as a well-known patron dined at the restaurant Saturday night: Gov. Steve Sisolak. He and his wife, Kathy, and another couple are shown in a video making the rounds since Sunday afternoon. The video was edited and shared by none other than longtime “V — The Ultimate Variety Show” artist and emcee Wally Eastwood, and recorded that night by a friend of Eastwood’s.
The video also surfaced about the same time on the @show_talent_productions Instagram page, with the message “Our Governor enjoying Live Entertainment? I’m confused.”
Such sarcastic messages as LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IN LAS VEGAS and I HOPE OUR GOVERNOR DOES NOT SEE THIS! LIVE ENTERTAINMENT IS A NO NO! are edited into the 1 minute, 27-second clip. The video has gone viral, at least in the Vegas entertainment community, with venue operators, business owners and entertainers sharing it on social media. “I guess he plays by different rules,” is one common (and printable) message.
Eastwood said Monday the message was not to shame the restaurant, but to generate a conversation about how live entertainment can reopen safely in Las Vegas.
“This was not meant to be negative to the restaurant, and I don’t think it was,” said Eastwood, who has also cut a 10-minute clip of his ideas of how shows can return safely. “You see how people are adapting. For me, it’s always safety first, and I think that goes for all entertainers in Las Vegas.”
The footage is shot from the second-level dining area down toward the main dining room. It shows Mauro singing with her three-piece band, with Sisolak’s party a few feet from the stage on house right (VIP-type seats, actually). A grand piano separates the Sisolak table from the stage.
And Sisolak is not the only famous figure in the scene. The band’s guitarist, John Falbo, performed in the 1960s with Dion DiMucci (famous as founder of Dion & The Belmonts) and his Wanderers band.
Sisolak responded by email to this original column post Monday morning:
“This weekend, Kathy and I were able to go to dinner at a local restaurant in Southern Nevada. It has come to my attention that questions have been raised over the fact that there was music being played. There is no prohibition on ambient background music, like what was playing at the restaurant — this has been allowed since the State entered Phase 2.
“However, there is existing prohibition in place under the statewide baseline standards for live events and performances, such as sporting events or concerts — unless they are spectator-less and receive approval.
“The First Lady and I are proud to support small businesses that are going above and beyond to continue to provide services during these unprecedented times while also taking appropriate measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The governor and first lady are shown in the brief clip without a mask as they sit for dinner. But as Naomi Mauro said Monday morning, the governor’s party arrived properly masked (not shown in the video) and wore them while moving around the restaurant.
The Sisolak party was at the Italian eatery from 6:30 p.m. until a little after 8 p.m., when the music started. The group did tip the staff and the band (though Mauro can’t remember how much).
The singer added in text that the place is safe: “All of our protocols are in place including temp checks, sanitizer stations and employee masks. We have followed the business license department’s guidelines regarding ‘ambient music,’ which as you know several other restaurants in town also have.”
The Monzu environment is similar to businesses that have been allowed to stage musicians playing in the background, particularly at such restaurants as the Bootlegger Bistro, Italian American Club and Chianti Italian Restaurant.
The governor’s visit to the restaurant comes as state and city agencies have shut down the type of live entertainment the governor enjoyed in Las Vegas this past weekend. As reported in this space Sunday, Saddles ’N’ Spurs on North Jones and E-String Poker Bar in Henderson have been forced to shut down live entertainment.
Bobby Mao’s in Henderson was knocked down, too, for a night before persuading city of Henderson officials to allow ambient live music and singers in the dining room.
Mauro has been a popular singer around Las Vegas for years, fronting David Perrico’s Pop Orchestra and appearing at such lounges as Piazza at Tuscany Suites. She has been singing in an ambient format, on Saturdays, at Monzu since the reopening of her restaurant May 23.
Mauro has consistently emphasized safety, that the business keeps to its 50 percent capacity and the tables are properly spaced out. It all looks safe from here, a cool hang for sure. The governor seems to agree. Hope he tried the bread.
See the clip in question here.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.