Sadelle's Glitzy New Las Vegas Location Is Big in Every Way
Mario Carbone opens up about the sprawling all-day restaurant, which dazzles with tableside pastry service, smoked-fish towers, and, of course, caviar.
There are a lot of ways to talk about the scale and ambition of Sadelle’s, the 10,000-square-foot all-day restaurant and bakery that opened December 26 at the fancy-pants Bellagio casino/resort in Las Vegas.
You can discuss how it’s three-and-a-half times the size of the original Sadelle’s in New York. You can talk about how Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, Jeff Zalaznick, and their team at Major Food Group are working with Bellagio’s massive bakeshop to create pastries well beyond what Sadelle’s has in New York. You can talk about how the R&D starts in Manhattan and how Major Food Group corporate pastry chef Stephanie Prida has been flying back and forth.
You can consider the tableside pastry service, the bagels being baked every hour, the gorgeous smoked-fish towers, the luxurious caviar, the elaborate chopped salads, and the gargantuan triple-decker sandwiches at a restaurant that’s open 18 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. You can talk about the expansive menu that includes smothered rib eyes and wondrous bowls of creamy shrimp rigatoni with flecks of crushed red pepper. You can marvel at the restaurant’s pastel-laden Ken Fulk design and its coveted location, next to the Bellagio Conservatory that’s constantly packed with visitors photographing insane seasonal decorations. You can talk about how Sadelle’s has taken over a space previously inhabited by Café Bellagio, which used to do 2,000 covers a day without any famous chef involved.
“It’s intimidating, man,” Carbone says. “I mean, the numbers are real. This is a 4,000-room hotel, and this is basically the place to go have breakfast and lunch. And then dinner, obviously, we’re open, and there’s plenty of competition, and I get that. It’s intimidating. It’s a big responsibility.”
With such great responsibility comes great resources. So maybe the best way to talk about the scale and ambition at Sadelle’s is to discuss the danish room. Beyond a huge kitchen and all the facilities of the bakeshop, there is a chamber that’s only for making danishes.
“It’s a room where they just laminate dough all day long,” Carbone says. “That room is larger than the entire Sadelle’s kitchen in New York. It’s the size of the upstairs kitchen at Carbone in New York. That’s the danish room. It’s a butter-and-flour room. That just produces four things for us.”
The blueberry danish at Sadelle’s I tried on New Year’s Eve weekend was excellent.
“For me, Sadelle’s being here in the all-day café space, the quote-unquote utilitarian restaurant of the great Bellagio, it needs to be a representation of what you would imagine,” Carbone says as he looks at the black-and-white cookies, sticky buns, zucchini cake, chocolate-chip cake, chocolate babka, and everything else on the Sadelle’s pastry cart. “I close my eyes and imagine what is a bakeshop at the Bellagio like. It’s this grand thing. How do I start people with that idea? How does a table feel that?”
The magic at Sadelle’s is also about what guests don’t see, like a giant line of cooks frying breakfast all day long.
“The pass is like an Amazon fulfillment station,” Carbone says. “You’re just pulling plates and trying to match tickets and get it out in time so it’s hot enough.”
The early days of Sadelle’s in Vegas, Carbone tells me more than once, are about “survival,” about a staff led by executive chef Jonah Resnick (who also runs the kitchen at the Vegas outpost of Carbone inside Aria) figuring how to consistently turn out superior versions of everyday food at tremendous volume.
“I get off on, like, two eggs over easy with a side of bacon,” Carbone says. “There’s something just incredible about doing that here: the level of hospitality in something so simple, banging out hundreds of orders of sides of bacon, trying to make it good. There’s something great about it. It’s so different than all the other pursuits.”
Carbone has been saying for years that he’s tired of doing tasting menus, but he obviously hasn’t abandoned fine dining at his upscale New York restaurants like The Grill.
“It lives and breathes with me every day,” he says. “I go to The Grill and I work with that team and I put the big hat on, and we make four-star food. I’ve been so blessed that I have all these outlets. I didn’t, like, do it and put it away.”
But with Sadelle’s in Vegas, “I want to challenge myself in other ways,” Carbone says, later adding, “I want to own hotels. The next generation of Major Food Group is our own hotels with our concepts in them.”
A lot of chefs come to Las Vegas and realize that they can do things in more extravagant ways than ever before. But given that Sadelle’s in New York is where people go for over-the-top assortments of smoked fish and caviar, there wasn’t a need to focus on making things crazier in Vegas.
“No, because I think we are aware that just Sadelle’s replacing Café Bellagio is that increase of over-the-top,” Carbone says. “We’re kind of the luxury-product guys. It’s unclear to me how much further to take it in the pomp and circumstance and the top-shelf ingredients. We’ve already pushed the ceiling just doing this, because there’s still plenty of slot players here that just want their eggs and their coffee.”
Sadelle’s in Vegas is clearly many different things at once.
“I thought it was fun to sort of play off of, like, these menus are all-world; there’s almost no boundaries,” Carbone says. “Playing within the cheeky vernacular, we added things like loaded fish tacos. We added a fried chicken sandwich. We want to make sure the customer has everything they need here. That’s really important. It’s much less about the chef’s perspective on a particular region of the world. This is a different ballgame. You need to make a lot of people very happy with that menu. How do you do it?”
Sadelle’s is planning things like bloody mary carts and steamed lobster that’s dressed tableside. Those will come later, after the team gets through the intensity of the opening weeks.
It’s a grind, serving gamblers who have no idea who Carbone is while simultaneously catering to high rollers who frequent Major Food Group’s New York restaurants. It’s a challenge, knowing that you haven’t succeeded until your customers feel like they can come into your restaurant anytime and get a first-rate version of something they really crave—whether it’s a tuna melt, spicy Asian noodles, a Greek salad, coconut shrimp, caviar-topped latkes, chocolate pudding, or a cream-cheese danish.
“I love it,” Carbone says. "It’s the epitome of hospitality. I’m here for you. I’m fully aware of that. It’s less about the restaurant that you’re seeking out that’s this destination restaurant. It’s the inverse of that. So how do I blow people away with that idea? It starts with understanding and really accepting it. How do I get excited about that? How do I get excited about tomato soup, because I am?”
This is a restaurant about ego-less cooking and baking, where, as Carbone points out, there are employees who spend their entire day laminating dough, proofing dough, and then baking that laminated and proofed dough. Every working chef has a kitchen, but, remember, Carbone and his team have a danish room.
“We’re this giant all-day restaurant, super important to the Bellagio,” Carbone says. “It’s a triple-A space on the Conservatory. We’re looking at the pool. It just conjures up images of grandeur. The Sadelle’s in New York, I can’t do these things, even if I wanted to, which I do. I can’t produce this stuff, you know. I have this little New York shoebox kitchen. Part of blowing out Sadelle’s is using what I have. I have this great facility here.”
As Carbone says this, there’s a big line of people waiting by the restaurant’s host stand while a waiter wearing a salmon-colored tuxedo jacket pushes a pastry cart around the dining room. It’s 3:30 p.m., not exactly prime time for dining, but that’s the thing about Sadelle’s: It’s an all-day restaurant in a city that knows there’s never a bad time for caviar and cake.
Sadelle’s, 3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 702-693-7075