Piero's Italian Cuisine: A Las Vegas Institution

Evan Glusman watches his three children run through Piero's Italian Cuisine, the 33-year-old restaurant near the Las Vegas Convention Center. It's something he used to do as a child in the restaurant's early days, until he started preparing in the kitchen, roasting red peppers and cutting off the tips of the green beans and the tops of the strawberries. During those three decades, many things have remained the same, except for the clientele that comes to fill this restaurant with capacity for 354 people. The food hasn't really changed, Glusman says while talking about adding Garbage Caesars salad to the menu.

One brutal summer, he wanted something light and decided to put shrimp, avocados, tomatoes and heart of palm in it. That salad became a secret item on the menu and, eventually, it was added to the permanent list when everyone started ordering it. Thirty-three years ago, if you had asked his father to put something on the menu with “garbage” in the name, he wouldn't have done it. “My father is slowly recovering,” says de Freddie, who originally opened the restaurant in a 1,400-square-foot space for 62 people on Karen Avenue and moved it five years later to Convention Center Drive.

Your customers age and don't buy again. Some of the most famous customers have their own space. There's the Tark Room, adorned with memories of former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian from the high-flying days of the Runnin' Rebels at the top of the NCAA. Piero's is still a hot spot before the Rebels games, and Jerry and his son Danny come to dinner from time to time.

Even after all these years, the interior hasn't changed much. The brick of the main dining room, the bronze ceiling and some of the original wood remain. Lithographs by Aldo Luongo, original oil paintings by José Bellver and huge fresh floral displays on antique pine tables dot the room. Some staff members have been in the restaurant from the start.

Gilbert Felez, a classically trained chef who believes that food should speak for itself, has been at Piero's almost from its start. In fact, five weeks after it opened, Piero Broglia left when a table asked for vegetables and refused to serve them. Felez has been in the kitchen ever since. This Wednesday night, Piero's is full of guests huddled in the small lobby waiting for a table.

Some of the A Room tables have already passed into the hands of a new group of regular customers. Piero's is a difficult act to follow, says Freddie Glusman. If you stop by, you'll find valet service there. You have a special table most of the time if you are a special customer.

At the end of the day, Evan says “the Piero thing is just fun”. He believes that Piero's will be timeless and that it gets better every year. Interesting facts: The list of notable people who have visited Piero's includes former presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Las Vegas regulars include Jerry Lewis, Mike Tyson, Phyllis McGuire, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme.

Part of the movie Casino, starring Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone was shot in Piero's. Even some scenes from different restaurants in the movie were actually shot at Piero's. The well-known restaurant has welcomed diners for decades which is remarkable in a rapidly changing city where restaurants come and go. Piero's Italian Cuisine offers guests a personalized non-corporate experience that's hard to find in contemporary Las Vegas.

The art exhibition A Life is Beautiful, The USA Basketball Showcase and The Return of Monster Jam top The List Of Things To Do In Las Vegas This Week - it's a festive spring for one of Las Vegas' most venerable and famous restaurants: Piero's Italian Cuisine! For The Past Two Years The City Of Las Vegas Has Promoted The Concept Of Brewery Row In The Arts District Both In Public And In Politics - Broglia Became A Southern Nevada Restaurateur In His Own Right Owning Several Well-Known Restaurants Over The Years - He Moved The Restaurant To Its Well-Known Location Across The Street From The Las Vegas Convention Center In 1987.

Tony Knilands
Tony Knilands

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