Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 | 3 a.m.
Ralph Scamardella is head chef for two of the most profitable restaurants in the country: Tao at the Venetian and Lavo at the Palazzo, with other locations in New York City. Scamardella talks with VEGAS INC about the challenges of catering to a foodie — and clubbing — crowd.
What’s it like to work in a restaurant/club atmosphere?
For us, the quality of the product is the same as it would be in any high-end restaurant. Most restaurants start early and end early. We go until 1 a.m. The length of service is longer and the intensity of service is greater.
What’s different about having a restaurant in Las Vegas than in New York City?
I think you have more of a cross section of people. You have to cater to a broader taste palate. More people have restrictions. Your clientele are transient. A lot of people come to Tao and Lavo from middle America, and they have a different palate than people from New York.
What’s your favorite dish at Lavo and Tao?
At Lavo, it’s the Chicken Dominic. At Tao, red curry scallops.
If you had a TV show, what would it be called?
“War and Peace.” (Laughing) That’s what restaurants are: One moment, everyone’s running around. The next, everyone’s sitting around, waiting for the next battle. You have to always make it fresh, make it better and stay current on food trends — that’s super important.
Would you be the show’s breakout star?
I’ve got a face that’s made for radio. (Laughing) I like being the guy behind the scenes making everything happen.
Do you consider yourself a businessman?
Yes. I consider myself a businessman who happens to also be a chef. You have to do a lot more than cook.
How’s business going?
Knock on wood, business has been great. I don’t know what recession everyone’s talking about. We’re always noted for being the top-grossing restaurants in America. We have great food and a great experience for guests. We’re great on every level.