Local restaurants, chefs up for James Beard awards

A number of local restaurants and chefs have been named finalists in the 2009 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards. Winners will be announced May 4 in New York. Local nominees are:

Best new restaurant: Raku, 5030 Spring Mountain Road; rising star chef of the year: Vannessa Garcia of Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South, and Sarah Kosikowski of Michael Mina Bellagio at Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South; outstanding pastry chef: Kamel Guechida of Joel Robuchon at MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South; outstanding service: Le Cirque at Bellagio and Nobhill Tavern at MGM Grand; best chef Southwest: Paul Bartolotta of Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare at Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, and Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam, 953 E. Sahara Ave., and Claude Le Tohic of Joel Robuchon. …

Sushisamba at the Palazzo, 3339 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is celebrating Carnival through Tuesday. Menu specials include the Bossanova Roll ($14) with farofa-crusted shrimp, torched pineapple, avocado and toasted coconut, plus Copacabana Beach-style fried whole fish ($26), crispy suckling pig ($32), a Carnival Sambatini ($12) and more. …

Texas de Brazil at Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is celebrating Carnival through Wednesday with a "shot block," four Brazilian-inspired shots on a wooden tray — plus celebration beads and more. …

A dinner featuring the bottlings of Ruffino Winery is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Spiedini at the J.W. Marriott, 221 N. Rampart Blvd. With an entree of grilled hanger steak Tuscan-style, the four-course dinner is $68 per person. For reservations, call 869-8500. …

Capital Grille at the Fashion Show mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South, is partnering with Tuscan winemaker Castello Banfi for the U.S. debut of its 2005 BelnerO Sangiovese di Montalcino with a special menu available through April 5. With an entree of herb-marinated, dry-aged tenderloin with black truffle mac ‘n’ cheese, the five-course Italian-themed menu is $49 per person. For reservations, call 932-6631. …

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza is celebrating the opening of its fifth valley location by featuring Zowie Bowie’s Vintage Vegas Pizza, the winner of the company’s recent pizza showdown, in all five locations through Feb. 28. The pizza features mozzarella and Gorgonzola cheeses, pears, arugula, orange-blossom honey and truffle oil. All proceeds from sales of the pizza will be donated to Opportunity Village. …

Capo’s Italian Cuisine has opened a second location, at 5675 W. Sahara Ave.; call 364-2276. The original Capo’s location at 5795 W. Tropicana Ave. remains open. …

For more restaurant news, visit the Vegas Voice blog at

Send information to Heidi Knapp Rinella, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070. You also can send faxes to 383-4676 or e-mail her at

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