Oscar's Steakhouse: It's good, fella
Oscar Goodman’s three-term tenure as mayor was six parts class, one part brass and garnished with flash. He instigated the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas and ushered it through the first arc of its renaissance, which included the $35 million renovation of the Plaza. When it came time to redesign a restaurant space inside the Plaza’s iconic second-story dome that overlooks Fremont Street and Main Street, Goodman was approached about attaching his name to a steakhouse concept.
“The Happiest Mayor on Earth” had long been interested in being involved with a restaurant or speakeasy since his days of representing high-profile clients as a prominent Las Vegas defense attorney back in the 1970s. Oscar’s Steakhouse opened in 2011 with Chef Jeffrey Martell at the helm, and downtown dining took a great leap forward. “It’s such a good vibe,” says Martell of the cityscape surrounding Oscar’s. “The Plaza and downtown kind of both grew together. They changed the atmosphere down here. It’s fun.”
Now Martell and his team have created new dinner and drink menus, as well as a “Black Book” with Goodman’s anecdotal annotation to dishes named after notorious associates such as Tony “The Ant” Spilotro (Spicy Spilotro skirt steak), “Little Nicky” Scarfo (Nicky’s roasted chicken and artichoke) and Jonathan “The CEO” Jossel (Jonny’s 44-ounce tomahawk chop). Goodman is a seasoned raconteur, and his invitation to “share of piece of real Las Vegas history” is worth taking while the bartender prepares a drink from the new cocktail menu.
Start off with Goodman’s preferred powerhouse libation, The Hizzoner, to get a kick from his favorite gin, Bombay Sapphire. The Defendant will clear any bourbon drinker’s court with its mix of Bauchant liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup and bitters, while the Q 1908 is another option for gin drinkers, and the Sazerac will appeal to lovers of both rye and absinthe.
No Nose’s Mob Meatballs, served with Martell’s unforgettable kitchen-made ricotta, and Benny B’s roasted bone marrow are surefire starter hits. The latter, named for downtown casino boss Benny Binion and served with grilled bread and caper sauce, is an only-in-Vegas experience not to be missed. Other new appetizers include Charlie Moose’s thick cut grilled bacon, Bobby K’s roasted beet salad and Big Chris’ osso bucco, but they might be hard to fit on a table already occupied by established items such as Izzy M’s fried calamari and Johnny Quinn’s crab cake. Try anyway, then order Joey C’s filet mignon if 14 entrées complicate the decision-making process.
Sheriff Ralph’s mashed potatoes and Dragon Lady’s Brussels sprouts or sautéed asparagus complete a classic combination for a great first meal here.
The restaurant has a special Thanksgiving menu this Thursday featuring butternut squash soup, turkey with traditional dressing and pumpkin white chocolate cheesecake. Goodman usually stops in to dine once a week, but he also hosts The Oscar Dinner Series. The next one, “From Mob Lawyer to Mayor of Las Vegas, A Retrospective,” takes place Dec. 5 and features Goodman telling his own story as well as expansions on figures included in his Black Book. Goodman brings it all to the table, as writer George Anastasia has stated, and there’s no better night to have a table at Oscar’s than during an Oscar Dinner.
Plaza, opens at 5 p.m. daily, lounge opens at 4 p.m. daily. 702.386.7227