Nicole Brisson will soon become the latest Strip chef to walk away from the casinos of Las Vegas Boulevard in favor of a neighborhood restaurant. The executive chef of Eataly, who previously ran Mario Batali’s Las Vegas restaurants, is preparing to open an Italian restaurant called Locale in the Mountain’s Edge community this June.
“I think as a community it’s really important to offer great food to us — to locals, our families, our friends,” Brisson says of the move. “And I feel like the experience kind of gets lost in the shuffle sometimes when you’re on the Strip and you’re dealing with these big conventions and buyouts and just the general craziness of the Strip. I think (Locale) will be much more of an intimate hospitality environment that I enjoy.”
Locale will offer more casual fare, including pizzas from a wood-fired oven, alongside craft cocktails in its bar area. But the chef says she’ll draw on her expertise with less familiar cuts of meat and techniques to create a more elevated menu for the main dining room.
“There are all these great chefs I’ve worked with over the years and just collected nuances and styles from. And I really want to bring a lot of those lost dishes to the Vegas market, (by) having cuts in dishes that people don’t recognize, that I learned when I was 21 and living in Italy and always dreamed of putting on a menu.”
Locale will be at 7995 Blue Diamond Road, near Buffalo Drive. Brisson’s partner on the project, restaurateur Andy Hooper of The Black Sheep, says the neighborhood is in need of the kind of high-end dining she brings to the table.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer for us to be down on Blue Diamond,” Hooper says, “because within a five-and-a-half-mile radius of Locale there’s about a quarter million people. And there’s no other competition, or even a restaurant that would serve as high-end cuisine and cocktails and wine.”
Brisson will remain with Eataly through June 10. She and Hooper are hoping to soft-open Locale almost immediately thereafter, with a more formal opening planned to coincide with Las Vegas Restaurant Week, which is June 17-28.
This weekend, Brisson will receive a Dom Perignon Award of Excellence at the 45th annual UNLVino. She’ll accept the award at the event’s Grand Tasting, which is Saturday night at The Mirage Event Center.