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12 new and upcoming restaurants, bars and a brewery in Las Vegas

Updated May 9, 2023 - 1:36 pm

The latest dispatches from our Las Vegas restaurant reconnaissance feature five spots coming to downtown and new places on and off the Strip.

Let’s start with downtown:

— City of Las Vegas business licenses are pending for Bar Ginza, a 1,700-square-foot Japanese-inspired bar at 1301 S. Main St., at East Colorado Avenue, and for Chocolate City Cigar Lounge, a 3,900-square-foot spot (interior plus terrace) serving alcoholic drinks, cigars and hookahs at 1511 S. Commerce St., at West Utah Avenue. Both projects received planning commission approval last August.

— Business licenses are also pending for another Houston’s Hot Chicken (full alcohol to pair with incendiary chicken sandwiches), this one at 1201 S. Main St., cater-corner from Esther’s Kitchen, and for Voodoo Brewing Company at 1415 S. Commerce St., at West Imperial Avenue. Voodoo has 13 other locations, mainly in Pennsylvania.

Rufino’s Pizzeria, at 321 S. Casino Center Blvd., just received its business license. The pizzeria’s website (rufinoslv.com) indicates a summer opening.

And now to the rest of the valley:

— Several readers have emailed to praise Gondola Italian Restaurant, now open at 450 S. Buffalo Drive. Miguel Rivera, chef of the old Il Mulino in the Forum Shops at Caesars, and his family own the restaurant. The menu of Italian and Italian American standards runs to starters, pastas, fish, chicken and meat dishes, and desserts, for lunch and dinner. Visit gondolalv.com.

Min’s Test Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant inside Jardin in Wynn Las Vegas, opens May 26 and runs through late September. The pop-up features pan-Asian and Pacific dishes from Min Kim, executive chef of Mizumi restaurant at the property. Offerings also include an omakase menu and cocktail pairings created by Mariena Mercer Boarini, Wynn’s famed chief mixologist. The Test Kitchen provides the chef, who previously cooked at Mizumi in Macau (two Michelin stars), with a creative outlet while Mizumi at Wynn is closed through fall for renovations. Visit minstestkitchen.com.

Retro by Voltaggio, a one-year culinary residency from “Top Chef” brothers Bryan and Michael Voltaggio, is now open in the former Aureole at Mandalay Bay. Retro celebrates the food, drink and popular culture of the ’80s and ’90s. Visit mandalaybay.mgmresorts.com/en/restaurants/retro-by-voltaggio.html, and look for a profile running soon at lvrj.com.

— The newest member of the PT’s Gold family is open at 8416 W. Desert Inn Road, near South Durango Drive.

Salad and Go, a drive-thru fast-food chain featuring salads and wraps, has two new shops in Vegas, one open at 2323 S. Decatur Blvd., and one planned to debut May 20 at 7715 N. El Capitan Way, in Centennial Hills. The first Salad and Go in the city launched in January.

— The pink grows. Café Lola just opened its fifth location, this one in the Forum Shops at Caesars. Lola also has locations in Henderson, Summerlin, the southwest and at Allegiant Stadium.

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Ellis Island Casino is honoring Joseph Pickett, the founding brewmaster of the Ellis Island Brewery, after his death on April 22. Pickett came aboard when the brewery opened in 1998.

He launched Ellis Island’s signature beers — lager, light lager, amber ale, IPA, hefeweizen, stout — and its root beer (made with 12 herbs and spices). Pickett also helped expand the small-batch Ellis Family Holiday Nog into a full-production release.

“Joe was truly instrumental in putting the Ellis Island Brewery on the map,” said Gary Ellis, CEO and owner of Ellis Island Casino. “I can’t begin to express my gratitude for him, his work and his decades of friendship. Everyone at Ellis Island sends their heartfelt condolences to Joe’s family and to everyone whose lives he touched.”

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The annual Bag Childhood Hunger campaign from Three Square Food Bank runs through May 31. Donations made during the campaign have double the impact because of matching sponsors, Nevada Gold Mines operated by Barrick and NV Energy Foundation. To donate and for more information, visit threesquare.org.

The campaign supports Three Square’s childhood nutrition programs to ensure children receive wholesome, nutritious meals after school, over the weekends and during the summer. According to Three Square, more than 131,000 children in Southern Nevada (about 1 in 4) live in food-insecure households.

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Four Vegas hotel bars have been named among the top 10 honorees in the Best U.S. Hotel Bar category for the U.S. West region in the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation 17th annual Spirited Awards. The bars are Legacy Club atop Circa, Libertine Social in Mandalay Bay, Overlook Lounge in Wynn and Ski Lodge in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

The Spirited Awards rank among the most prestigious international recognition in the beverage industry. Winners will be celebrated at the Tales of the Cocktail conference in late July in New Orleans.

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ItsJLW on Twitter.

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