A world away from its ancestral home in Italy, Cipriani opens in Las Vegas, bringing its heritage of dishes specific to Venice—and some invented by Giuseppe Cipriani himself—to Wynn Plaza.
Ernest Hemingway, Giuseppe Cipriani and Ruggero Caumo at Harry's Bar in the 1950s
When the newest outpost of Cipriani opened in Wynn Plaza, gourmands and the fashion set knew that a legacy that is at once familial and international had touched down. Those who understand Italian cuisine and people who cook it know that it’s not enough to refer to “authentic Italian” cuisine; you must speak regionally. For example, if you make your way to the Amalfi Coast via Salerno and have time to kill before the ferry to Amalfi or Positano, you might find yourself in a bar near the port and notice an unusual pastry—a pastry not seen on the Amalfi Coast just 10 miles away. If you ask about it, you’re likely to receive the following response: “This is a Salerno pastry. You can only get it here.” This might also happen in Capri or in Parma—or in Venice.
It was in Venice in 1931 that a bartender named Giuseppe Cipriani debuted Harry’s Bar in a stone building on a canal just off Piazza San Marco. The restaurant was a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway (the literary legend most strongly associated with the venue), Orson Welles (known for enjoying two bottles of Dom Pérignon at one sitting) and the spiritual leader Aga Khan (he loved the caviar and ravioli). Luminaries of successive generations followed their lead, from Alfred Hitchcock and Truman Capote to George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. And although the original Cipriani landmark has now become a global brand, with restaurants from Monte Carlo to Ibiza, New York, Mexico City, Abu Dhabi and Dubai (among others), Cipriani stays true both to its very specific regional roots and to the dishes invented and made famous by Giuseppe himself. When fourth-generation Cipriani heir Maggio Cipriani speaks of the cuisine that this celebrity set enjoyed— Venetian dishes like calf’s liver alla veneziana, baccalà mantecato (whipped salted cod with polenta points) and sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines)— he’s saying something gastronomically and culturally meaningful.
Cipriani's beef carpaccio
To Maggio, Wynn and Cipriani are natural partners. “I truly believe that the Wynn resorts are the benchmark in our industry,” he says. “They distinguish themselves for great attention to detail, quality and service—values that we share and are appreciated by the same clientele.” Maggio recalls that he was immediately taken with the locale. “Wynn approached us with this wonderful location in this exciting new plaza retail section near some prestigious brands. We had been thinking about a Vegas project for some time, and this seemed to be a perfect match.” The brands of which he speaks are indeed renowned: Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Stefano Ricci.
Cipriani at Wynn Plaza has now joined them, sprawling over a curved, 7,000-square-foot space: The main dining room is roughly 3,000 square feet, while a private dining area seats 50. Global Cipriani aficionados will observe the careful design touch of Michele Bonan, the famed Florentine architect known for his work on yachts, grand estates, hotels and several other Cipriani venues that are wildly popular with jet-setters.
“Bonan helped us design Cipriani Downtown Miami, Downtown Ibiza and Cipriani Masaryk [Mexico City], to name a few,” Maggio says. “Some elements, like the nautical feel of the space with its glossy walnut and chrome or the terrazzo flooring, are consistent with the other locations, but each restaurant has its own unique character, different color accents and unique lighting fixtures.” Against the richness of that walnut—which wraps the columns and the walls with an art deco élan—royal blue and burnt orange dominate.
The iconic vanilla meringue cake
The menu upholds the legacy brilliantly. Other restaurants might import their mozzarella; Cipriani produces its own in Italy and flies it in. “We will feature our traditional Cipriani cuisine, with classics from Harry’s Bar in Venice like the baked tagliolini with ham and our vanilla meringue cake,” Maggio explains, “but we will also include different pizza selections and some Japanese cuisine dishes in our Yotto section of the menu, which is already featured in some of our other locations around the world.”
And one beloved menu item is arguably identified with the brand more than any other. “One dish that was invented by my great-grandfather Giuseppe in 1950 and is probably the most popular, served at Harry’s Bar in Venice and in all the Ciprianis around the world, is the carpaccio,” Maggio enthuses. Given its rich flavor, fanciful presentation and storied history, the carpaccio is all but required.
“The dish was inspired by the Countess Amalia Nani Mocenigo, whose doctor had prescribed a diet forbidding cooked meat,” he explains. “So he served her a plate covered with paper-thin sheets of raw filet mignon with a light, cream-colored sauce drizzled over the meat in a crosshatch pattern. At that time in Venice, a major exhibition of the Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio—an artist famous for his bright reds and shiny white colors—provided the name.” Likewise, he named the Bellini, the distinctive white peach and prosecco cocktail he invented in the 1940s, after the unique color he’d seen in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini. The iconic Cipriani offerings, like the art that inspired them, are true to the place where they were born. Sampling them nearly 6,000 miles away in Las Vegas, you’ll be transported to an experience that’s authentically Italian.