Chef-Restaurateur Marc Vetri Opens Italian Pop-Up in Las Vegas

With his restaurant at Las Vegas’ Palms Resort still closed, the Philadelphia chef is bringing some staff to a new location. Plus, a tavern from José Andrés closes in D.C., Del Posto auctions part of its Wine Spectator Grand Award–winning wine collection, and more
Chef-Restaurateur Marc Vetri Opens Italian Pop-Up in Las Vegas
Chef Marc Vetri pulled off the Vegas opening of Osteria Fiorella in just about two months, in part to relocate staff from his closed Vetri Cucina. (Ed Anderson)
Jul 16, 2020

Chef Marc Vetri unveiled a pop-up version of his Italy-focused Philadelphia restaurant, Fiorella, in Las Vegas’ Red Rock Resort July 10. In the space formerly home to Award of Excellence winner Terra Rossa, Osteria Fiorella marks the second time the chef has taken a concept cross-country; his flagship Vetri Cucina in Philadelphia and its sibling location in Las Vegas' Palms Casino Resort both hold Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards.

This time the opening was particularly fast-paced, taking only about two months from conception to launch, partly in an effort to relocate staff from the still-shuttered Vetri Cucina.

“The executive team at Red Rock had been following my Instagram and loved what we were doing at Fiorella in Philly,” Vetri told Wine Spectator by email. He said his goal was to create “a fun atmosphere that you can feel comfortable coming in multiple times a week with the family, business clients or just friends,” displayed through thoughtful details like placemats with old photos of Vetri’s family.

Based off the original outpost in a converted 125-year-old butcher shop, Osteria Fiorella features expanded offerings, such as a much larger wine program built by Vetri Cucina wine director Justin Moore. “The modest selection of around 70 wines is a balance of comfort wines that neighborhood diners will recognize, and more traditional Italian options from classic producers and regions,” Moore said. The list includes top bottles from regions like Tuscany, Piedmont and Friuli. Pinot Noirs from Sonoma and Oregon’s Willamette Valley have a significant presence; there’s also a “secret list” of up to 200 additional options available upon request.

The menu is also larger than the original’s, mixing influences from Vetri’s travels in northern Italy and his upbringing in South Philadelphia. The chef describes the cuisine as “a cross between traditional Italian food from Italy and American red sauce cuisine. Just fun food with no pretense.” This includes salads, pizzas, antipasti and more, taking advantage of the space’s wood-burning oven. Hand-made pastas are also available, such as pappardelle with duck ragù and cavatelli with broccoli, plus meatier entrées.—Collin Dreizen

José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern Closes in D.C.

The bar area at America Eats Tavern in D.C.
America Eats Tavern was among the more casual concepts in José Andrés’ restaurant empire. (Rey Lopez)

After two years of highlighting American history through wine and food, chef José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern closed late last month in Washington, D.C.’s Georgetown area.

“We have had to review all of our real-estate commitments to ensure we evolve with the changing business landscape in support of our guests and teams,” read a statement from Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup, which also thanked the staff and community for their support. The restaurant held an Award of Excellence since 2019 for a 100-label wine program with strengths in Virginia and California, managed by wine director Andy Myers. The domestic-focused list complemented classic American dishes like shrimp and grits and fried soft-shell crabs.

In an Instagram post, the eatery hinted at a reopening in a different location, writing “we look forward to revisiting this concept in the future,” though the group did not provide additional details. ThinkFoodGroup includes dozens of restaurants around the globe, with 16 other Restaurant Award winners including Spanish tapas restaurants Jaleo and upscale hotel restaurant chain the Bazaar.

Andrés has been an advocate for communities in need throughout the coronavirus pandemic through World Central Kitchen. From March to May, America Eats Tavern was part of Andrés’ meal preparation and donation efforts.—Julia Lombardo

New York’s Del Posto Joins List of Restaurants Auctioning Rare and Coveted Wines

Bottles of Aldo Conterno Granbussia Barolo
Del Posto’s offerings will include top-notch Italian wines like Aldo Conterno’s Barolo Granbussia Riserva. (Courtesy of Hart Davis Hart Wine Co.)

While the dining room remains closed due to pandemic precautions, New York Grand Award winner Del Posto is auctioning many coveted and rare selections from its cellar. Starting July 24, wine lovers and collectors have the opportunity to snag some of the more than 30,000 bottles hitting the auction block at Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. in Chicago.

“These are challenging times, so this was an opportunity to raise capital for Del Posto, but also to share a great story of top Italian wines with the wine world,” a Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. representative told Wine Spectator via email. Other wine destinations have taken a similar approach in recent months.

Del Posto is well-known for its Italian cuisine and its selection of fine Italian bottlings, especially from Piedmont and Tuscany. A statement issued by Hart Davis Hart noted that buyers can expect “an impressive selection of Barolo and Barbaresco from Bruno Giacosa, Angelo Gaja, Bartolo Mascarello, Giacomo Conterno, and Giuseppe Rinaldi, alongside super Tuscans from Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, Sassicaia, and Tignanello.”

In addition to Italian wines, prized selections of Burgundy, Champagne and fortified wines are among the more than 3,400 lots to be offered in the upcoming auction. A portion of the sale’s proceeds will be donated to a children’s charity, though the specific organization hasn’t been determined yet.—Taylor McBride

French New York Charmer Vaucluse Ends 5-Year Run

The dining room at Vaucluse
Vaucluse combined the glamorous worlds of elegant French brasseries and New York’s Upper East Side. (Courtesy of Vaucluse)

Altamarea Group’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning Vaucluse on New York’s Upper East Side will not reopen after closing March 16. The upscale, French brasserie–inspired restaurant officially closed “in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a statement shared with Wine Spectator.

Chef Arthur Lee most recently helmed the kitchen, serving modern takes on French staples like escargots, pâté and steak frites, alongside other European dishes. Wine director Jonathan Kearns managed the 625-selection wine list of almost exclusively French labels, with standouts in Burgundy, the Rhône and Bordeaux. Ahmass Fakahany and chef Michael White’s Altamarea Group still owns several other renowned wine destinations, such as Grand Award winner Ai Fiori and Best of Award of Excellence winner Marea in New York.—Julie Harans

Portland, Ore., Loses Longtime Fine-Dining Favorite

Guests dining at Bluehour
Local mainstay Bluehour in Portland, Ore., won’t bounce back after pandemic shutdown. (Courtesy of Bluehour)

Award of Excellence winner Bluehour in Portland, Ore., announced June 29 that it will not reopen. The fine-dining spot was part of Portland’s Pearl District for 20 years, but even neighborhood staples are suffering at the hands of the coronavirus crisis.

“The prospects for a profitable relaunch have dimmed considerably in the context of a far-off, post-COVID future where casual service, social distancing, to-go service and delivery are all key to any viable restaurant business plan,” owner Bruce Carey wrote on Bluehour’s Facebook page. “I remain grateful that Bluehour has been able to play such a prominent role in the high-spirited Portland restaurant scene for the past 20 years.”

Managed by wine director Frederick Armstrong, the wine program featured 400 selections noted for strengths in California, France and Oregon, matched by chef Ryan Gaul’s regional Italian menu. Carey’s other Award of Excellence winners in Portland, Clarklewis and 23Hoyt, are still expected to reopen.—Emmalyse Brownstein

Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and on Instagram at @wsrestaurantawards.

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