TOP TEN 1999

Only an abundance of Christmas spirit keeps me from telling you what I really think of the Zagat Survey of Las Vegas restaurants. I've been in an almost preternaturally sunny-mood these days even though it gets dark around the time I'm usually finishing lunch. So imagine my consternation at reading the fluff piece in this week's Review-Journal about the top ten restaurants according to the popularity and ballot-stuffing contest known as the Zagat Guide. But rather than taking Zagat and the world's worst newspaper to task for their systematic and endemic ignorance, I thought I'd give those of you who give a hoot my top ten restaurants for 1999.

Number 1 is Le Cirque--hands down. Now I've received a freebie or two there over the past year, but I've also spent a ton of my own money and I have never been less than thrilled by the quality of the raw ingredients and the range of the kitchen. Fussier by far but not less superb is the work done by Julian Serrano at number 2, Picasso. Aureole (at number 3) is the largest state-of-the-art gourmet restaurant you'll ever dine in, but night in and night out, Chef Joe Romano turns out a menu that competes with, and sometimes beats, the work at the New York original. Number 4 is another Maccioni marvel, Circo, for simply the best Italian food in town, while number 5 and six are brought to us by the bam man himself, Emeril Lagasse. He's kicked it up a notch with is fish house in the MGM and Delmonico's at the Venetian. In fact, Delmonico's may be our best steakhouse, but if it has competition, it's coming from Charlie Palmer's Steak at the Four Seasons or Prime at the Bellagio. For number nine, we go way off the strip to Rosemary's on West Sahara and brining up the rear is Spago, which started the whole stampede and still competes with the best of them.

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These ten aren't about voting numbers or advertising revenue, just my picks of where to get the best tasting food and restaurant experiences in Las Vegas.

This is John Curtas.

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