Ex-Tao Group executive planning 2 restaurants in Las Vegas

After eight years as West Coast corporate chef for Tao Group, Marc Marrone is no stranger to celebrity moments. When asked to share some star stories, he recalls one evening at Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, following the 2016 Billboard Music Awards.

“Ariana Grande was in the private dining room. And (celebrity chef) Chris Santos and I were bringing out food. So I brought food to her and turned around and literally bumped into Madonna. Then I went around the corner and Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian were sitting there going ‘Hey, Chef.’ I just remember going into the kitchen and thinking ‘What the hell business am I in? What am I doing?’ ”

In addition to overseeing Santos’ local Beauty & Essex, Marrone’s position put him directly in charge of dining at 13 other restaurants and dayclubs in Tao Group’s international portfolio of more than 30 venues. The largest, Tao Las Vegas, consistently tops Business Insider’s list of the top-grossing independent restaurants in the world, with sales of $43 million last year. This month, at age 33, he left Tao Group in an amicable split to pursue other ventures.

“The job that I had at Tao is really one that, for most people, you’d work your career up to, and that’s the job at the end. I kind of did it backward. And being 33, I just said ‘Do I stay here and keep a great job? What is the end goal?’ ”

Marrone, who began his career with the Tao Group a dozen years ago as a sous chef at Tao New York, came to Las Vegas in 2009 to work at Lavo at Palazzo, which was transforming from a Mediterranean menu to more classic Italian cuisine. The plan was for him to stay for three months to learn the restaurant, then return to New York to open a Lavo there. He never went back, however, and Las Vegas has been his base of operation ever since.

He’s seen Lavo shutter its nightclub operation, while Tao’s has evolved. He was here for the opening of Marquee nightclub and dayclub at the Cosmopolitan. He spent six weeks in Singapore opening that Lavo location. And in Los Angeles, he oversaw the openings of Tao L.A., Luchini Pizzeria, and The Highlight Room and room service kitchen at the Dream Hollywood hotel.

“The role kind of grew into what I do now,” he said of the corporate chef position during his final week at the job. It’s a position that often kept him occupied from 8 a.m. through well past midnight, and saw him log 127,000 travel miles last year.

While he oversaw a massive international operation, Marrone credits the 60-seat Highlight Room with inspiring his next moves.

“The rooftop at the Dream Hotel really didn’t have a concept,” he explains. “There was no restriction on what it was going to be. It wasn’t a pre-existing brand. So I just got to have fun: go to the market, check out food, bring in great products and just make kick-ass food. And I was like ‘This is what it would be like to get to do my own (thing).’ ”

He’s also convinced that Las Vegas is coming into its own as a culinary city and wants to be part of it.

“I think the time is right. Before they keep importing restaurant concepts from other cities, I want to contribute the best I can to show that Vegas chefs and the Vegas scene are just as qualified and just as talented, and we have our own little niche and scene.”

Marrone has a pair of projects in the works. The first is a “hand-crafted Italian” spot called Italian Graffiti with an attached pizza window at the The Bend, the retail center expected to open next year near the 215 Beltway and Durango Drive. The second is a still-unnamed rooftop collaboration with Fukuburger’s Colin Fukunaga at Las Vegas Boulevard and Carson Avenue downtown.

It’s too soon to predict an opening date for either, but Marrone expects Italian Graffiti to debut in 2020. If that proceeds on schedule, he expects the second restaurant to open three to four months later.

In the meantime, Marrone will work on various projects, such as pop-up meals and special events, with other local chefs. He also hopes to spend a lot of time with his wife and 2½-year-old son, Ace, another major inspiration for his move.

“The traveling and all of the stuff I was doing was a lot of time away from him,” he says. “He’s getting older, and (that’s) a big part of it.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palzazzo.

Contact Al Mancini at amancini@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AlManciniVegas on Twitter.

Entertainment Videos
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Baked Alaska a specialty at Favorite Bistro in Las Vegas
Award-winning pastry chef Claude Escamilla makes Baked Alaska with strawberry sorbet and vanilla gelato and flames it at Favorite Bistro at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chili cooks face fierce and friendly competition at Nevada cook-off
Forty chili cooks competed in the Nevada State Chili Cookoff in Pahrump on Sunday, March 17, 2019, with the winners advancing to the World Championship Chili Cook-off in Des Moines, Iowa. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door and Banksy art in Las Vegas
Arcade ‘speakeasy’ leads to secret door, Banksy art in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hazel in Las Vegas serves modern takes on traditional cocktails
Hazel serves modern takes on traditional cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas celebrates St. Patrick's Day
Tonight the city lit the Welcome sign green, McMullan's Irish Pub and the Guinness store also prepare for this weekend's St. Patrick's Day festivities. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Reuben sandwich at Served in Henderson, near Las Vegas
Matthew Meyer, chef/owner of Served, makes a Reuben sandwich with house-brined corned beef, house-made sauerkraut and gooey melted cheese at his restaurant in Henderson, outside Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Las Vegas day club season returns with big-name DJs
Rick Ross, March 23, at Daylight Beach Club at Mandalay Bay The Chainsmokers, March 30, at Encore Beach Club Marshmello, April 6, Kaos Dayclub at the Palms Chuckie, May 11, Marquee Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Calvin Harris, May 11, Wet Republic at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Pizza expert Chris Bianco makes meatballs in Las Vegas
Chris Bianco, who was the keynote speaker at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, demonstrates meatball making for expo attendees. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas pulmonologist talks about new movie dealing with cystic fibrosis
Dr. Craig Nakamura, Director of Cystic Fibrosis Center of Southern Nevada, talks about the upcoming romantic drama “Five Feet Apart” where both of the lead characters suffer from cystic fibrosis. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
World Pizza Champion crowned in Las Vegas
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Italian pizzaiolo Federico De Silvestri took the top prize and more than $12,000. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Italian wins Pizza Maker of the Year at Pizza Expo
Federico De Silvestri of Verona, Italy, wins the finals in the non-traditional pizza category during the International Pizza Challenge at the International Pizza Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center Thursday, March 7, 2019. De Silvestri went on to beat winners from each of the four other categories — traditional, pan, pizza Napoletana and Roman — to win Pizza Maker of the Year. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Good Pie Coming To Arts District
Local pizzaiolo Vincent Rotolo says Good Pie is coming to the Arts District. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Local comedian says "It's ok to laugh, ...the comedy club is dark."
K-Von, a half-Persian comedian, talks about his style of comedy which keeps audiences entertained.
Pizza Dough Throwing Competition
Contestants participate in the World Pizza Games at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Wednesday night. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
World Pizza Games showcased in Las Vegas
The World Pizza Games, part of the International Pizza Expo, drew competitors from all over the world to Las Vegas to compete in events such as dough stretching and box folding. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Pizza competitors dazzle at international expo
The International Pizza Expo at Las Vegas Convention Center included the first rounds of the World Pizza Games. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas showcases products and trends
At the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, vegan and gluten-free menu choices and compostable packaging were highlighted, as well as Detroit-style and Roman-style pizza. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about a new restaurant
Chef Dan Krohmer talks about the construction of his new restaurant at Fremont Street’s Fergusons Downtown complex in downtown Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Neon Museum lights up the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign
The Neon Museum in Las Vegas flipped the switch on its latest acquisition Monday night, the Hard Rock Cafe guitar sign. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
A Taste of Eataly Las Vegas
Executive Chef Nicole Brisson gives a tour around Eataly Las Vegas, located in the Park MGM. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas
Order a pretty purple cocktail at North Italia in Las Vegas (Janna Karel/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Towering triple decker sandwich at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas
Jonah Resnick, executive chef of Sadelle’s, the newest restaurant at Bellagio in Las Vegas, serves a daunting concoction of roast beef layered with house-made cole slaw, turkey and more cole slaw, on rye bread. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Paris Las Vegas Debuts New Eiffel Tower Light Show
The Paris in Las Vegas unveiled its latest Eiffel Tower light show, Wednesday evening. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video: Las Vegas Omelet House Marks 40th anniversary
Omelet House at Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive in Las Vegas, which opened in 1979, is a locals’ favorite, known for fluffy six-egg omelets. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves readying new beer
Ryan Reaves, a forward with the Golden Knights, has plans for a second beer, a lager, through his 7Five Brewing Co. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Bellagio Adds Lady Gaga To The Fountain Playlist
Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” has been added to the rotation of classic tunes played for the dancing waters at Lake Bellagio. The song debuted at 6 p.m. Monday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Comedian uses laughter to bring understanding about AIDS
Comedian Brandon Cox Sanford talks about how he uses his comedy sketches to bring light to his AIDS diagnosis. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas
Sasha Rincon-Camacho, regional marketing director, talks about the 20th anniversary of the House of Blues in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Meow Wolf opening an 'otherworldly' art experience in Las Vegas
Meow Wolf opening "otherworldly" art experience in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Home Front Page Footer Listing