Opening a restaurant in Las Vegas wasn’t on Marc Vetri’s radar. The chef, who sold the bulk of his eateries to Urban Outfitters in 2015 but kept his flagship Vetri Cucina, had been approached about doing something out West before, but didn’t think it was really for him. That changed when Michael Symon signed on to The Palms and suggested the casino-hotel go after the Philly chef as well. A second location of Vetri Cucina is slated to open at The Palms next year, along with restaurants from Symon and Bobby Flay.
“It was the last thing on my mind. Over the last 20 years I had been wooed out there, and I looked at some things, but never made it to the altar,” Vetri says. “But this time when I went, it wasn’t what I had been thinking.”
The chef was picturing a massive restaurant — the usual Vegas excess. But Vetri at The Palms will be relatively small, with seats for 65 to 70. He wants it to feel more like the original in Washington Square West, which has been a Philly standout for just shy of 20 years, than a typical casino-resort destination. “I had thought you have to go large out there, but it wasn’t like that. They talked about duplicating what they loved about Vetri,” he says of meeting with the team at The Palms. “That coupled with coming up on our 20-year anniversary — I think it’s time to do a Vetri on the West Coast.”
One difference: The Vegas Vetri will serve al la carte, instead of the Philly tasting menu. But the seasonally rotating dishes Philly diners know and love will be the same — the guinea hen, the goat, the salt-crusted branzino, the spinach gnocchi.
“We’ve already started meeting with their designers,” Vetri says of The Palms. “It’s going to look a lot like the Vetri here. We’re going to bring a lot of the Philadelphia aspects into it.”
When it’s ready, the chef would like to close the original for a week or two and bring the staff out to Vegas to help open the new location. But you won’t find him at Sin City’s roulette tables during his downtime: “I’m not a gambler,” he says with a laugh. “I’m a worker.”
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