Nove Italiano’s chef keeps local scene on the menu
By Brock Radke
Just as his restaurant—Nove Italiano, perched atop the Palms’ Fantasy Tower—offers one of the most unique dining experiences in Las Vegas, Geno Bernardo is somewhat distinguished from the city’s talented roster of executive chefs.
Although he leads the kitchen at one of the most popular restaurants in one of the most popular casino resorts in Vegas, Bernardo, a native of New Jersey, is absolutely grounded in the local food scene. His amiable style and undeniable talent make it easy to understand why Nove, just off the Strip, is just as popular with locals as it is with Vegas visitors.
“We’re always trying to push the bar in this restaurant, from service to drinks to nightly specials,” Bernardo said. “We’re always trying to come up with something new within what we do, Italian food, and for the last couple of years that has meant working with local farmers and supporting our community here in Las Vegas.” Farms in Vegas? It’s true. Bernardo has two growers in nearby Pahrump that exclusively supply Nove with specialty produce. “In the casino atmosphere, it’s sometimes hard to convey that message to our guests. People still think this is just a casino town, and there’s nothing outside of that. But there is a community here.”
Bernardo may be slurping up Japanese noodles in his off-hours, but he’s focused on the Italian version when the white chef coat is on. He opened Nove in November 2006, and it remains one of the premier Italian restaurants in the city.
“I think we always get mentioned when it comes to the best Italian food in town, even though we are off the Strip and might be a little overlooked,” he said. “But we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished. We’re doing something great up here. We’re cooking from the soul.”
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