New diner traces roots to NY

Apr 9, 2002 4:44 AM

If there’s a recipe for success in opening a restaurant in Las Vegas, it might go something like this: Start with a dynamite menu with bargain-priced selections; add a warm and friendly wait staff; blend in an atmosphere of fun and good times; finally, cross your fingers and pray.

Even though the Central Park West restaurant in the Sahara ­­Pavilion has been open for only a few weeks, its Brooklyn-style charm and ambiance has already generated a loyal word-of-mouth following. Either the operators have found the formula for success, or they have friends in ­­extremely high places.

Located just a few doors from several other popular west-side restaurants, Central Park West is a 24-hour, bar-and-grill style restaurant, whose extensive menu is available around the clock.

At the heart of the restaurant is a massive bar, which features slant-top gaming machines (multi-game) and overhead TV monitors. The bar area is flanked by elevated dining ­­areas which include hardwood tables and upholstered booths decorated in green and tan.

Helping to isolate the diners from bar patrons are etched glass murals depicting New York landmarks, such as the Brooklyn Bridge.

Of course, the star of the joint is its menu, a happy-go-lucky mix of pizza, pasta, deli sandwiches, juicy burgers, classic entrees such as shrimp scampi and filet mignon ”” and everything in between!

“We wanted to open a place where you could get a great corned beef sandwich or ”˜bada bing’ burger or anything else at 2:00 in the morning,” said owner Ron Smilow, who previously owned and operated Las Vegas restaurants that included Jerome’s. “Even though this is supposed to be a 24-hour town, it’s surprising what you can’t get after hours.”

In opening a New York-style “diner” with a deli influence, Smilow enlisted the help of Kenny Burger and Bill Miller. On the restaurant’s menu they are depicted as the “Three Wise Guys,” though they collectively swear there’s nothing in the back room except a pantry and a pasta-making machine.

“We really wanted to create something like you find in the neighborhoods back in New York,” Burger said. “The idea is to have a cool hangout where you can get great food and play your favorite video games.”

So far, their idea is bearing fruit. A loyal legion of customers have rallied around the wood-fired pizzas (the grilled eggplant is superb), 100 percent angus Bada-Bing burgers (charbroiled and served on a Kaiser roll), homemade pasta (try the gnocchi with pesto cream sauce), veal Parmigiana, and center cut pork chops, to name a few.

Other great choices include a classic bruschetta, grilled Italian sausage hoagie, piled-high corned beef sandwich, and eggplant Parmigiana.

Central Park West also serves a complete breakfast menu, an array of salads and soups, and desserts to die for, including the Grand Marnier rice pudding and a unique, parfait-like Tiramisu.

“The desserts are something special, since we have Vera, the pastry chef from The Rio, creating them,” Smilow said. “Try to save room ”” or even make room! ”” for one of her desserts.”

Central Park West is at 4760 W. Sahara Ave., in the Sahara Pavilion; phone 258-1919