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Restaurants open at CityCenter's Aria in Vegas

Hotel-casino Aria, the Cesar Pelli-designed centerpiece of Las Vegas' $8.5-billion CityCenter, has opened, along with restaurants from chefs such as Masa Takayama, Shawn McClain, Michael Mina and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Directly off Aria's lobby is Takayama's Japanese restaurant Bar Masa, designed by Richard Bloch, with a three-story high entrance and seating for 256. (Shaboo, the more intimate shabu-shabu restaurant located inside Bar Masa, is set to open this weekend.)

Bar Masa is flanked by McClain's American-Mediterranean restaurant Sage and chef Julian Serrano's namesake Spanish restaurant. Clustered on the second floor (not far from the Gold Lounge club) are Michael Mina's seafood restaurant American Fish, Vongerichten's Jean Georges Steakhouse and the Maccioni family's Sirio Ristorante.

The 24-hour Cafe Vettro has floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the Vdara resort. Other restaurants include the Vegas outpost of the Eva Longoria Parker/Todd English collaboration Beso, Union Restaurant & Lounge, Skybox Sports Bar & Grill, Blossom and Lemongrass. And, of course, there is a buffet -- 25,000 square feet devoted to all-you-can-eat.

On opening weekend, the line was long for pastries and gelato at pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury's patisserie, conveniently located between a bank of video poker machines and the craps tables.

The Tar Pit is open

Mark Peel, Jay Perrin and Audrey Saunders have officially opened the Tar Pit.

Among what Saunders calls "neoclassical cocktails" are the Jamaican Firefly (dark rum, house-made ginger beer, lime juice and simple syrup) and the Gin Gin Mule (gin, mint, lime simple syrup and house-made ginger beer). The bar also serves a small selection of chef Peel's cuisine, featuring dishes such as duck rillettes and Stilton, vitello tonnato, fried oysters and duck sliders.

Dining room menu options include braised pork cheeks and ears on orecchiette, coq au vin blanc, gnocchi with escargot and wild boar meatballs.

609 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 965-1300; www.tarpitbar.com.

Bastide back on

Bastide, the on-again-off-again-on-again restaurant owned by commercial director Joe Pytka, is serving breakfast and lunch with a new chef, Joseph Mahon, heading the kitchen. Dinner service is expected to start next month at the Melrose Place restaurant, which now boasts an adjacent Assouline bookstore.

8475 Melrose Place, Los Angeles; (323) 651-5950.

-- Betty Hallock and Krista Simmons

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