Right on cue

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Best Billiards takes a shot at becoming Vegas’ most progressive pool hall

 

By Renée LiButti
Vegas.com

What do you get when you cross a state-of-the-art pool hall with an Italian café and an art studio? Answer: Best Billiards.

This unconventional new establishment opened five months ago on the northeast corner of Flamingo and Sandhill roads, less than five miles east of the Strip.

A product of Ermanno Scalas' workshop stands guard at the entrance.

A product of Ermanno Scalas' workshop stands guard at the entrance.

It’s not a difficult place to spot. Two large Roman statues flank the entrance. Outside the front door, chairs are lined up in a row – trattoria-style. The window advertises “Espresso,” “Cappuccino” and “Paninis” as standard fare, while a signboard promotes daily specials like salmon pasta and carrot soup.

But fear not, pool hall traditionalists. Beer (featuring Peroni) is served…along with fine wines.

“Yes, this is a new idea for Las Vegas,” said Ermanno Scalas, who is originally from Sardinia. He dreamed up Best Billiards with his wife Mary. A master artist, Ermanno has a space in the back where he sculpts whenever he’s not playing with patrons or conducting lessons on Italy’s most beloved games – five-pin (Italiana), nine-pin (goriziana), carambola and boccette.

“We’re about sports billiards,” he said. “It’s a place for the true billiards enthusiast.”

Indeed, Best Billiards caters to serious players. There are 12 tables, which were all made by Hermelin, a manufacturer that has been renowned in Italy since 1825. In fact, Ermanno boasted, Best Billiards has the most Hermelin tables of any pool hall in the U.S. Ten of them are even heated. This helps reduce moisture that can severely alter the speed and deflection of the balls.

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Las Vegas' newest pool hall has a great Old world glow about it.

Automatic scoreboards are found throughout the joint. One table that’s used during tournaments has stadium-style seating. Recently, groups from Houston and Santa Clara held events here. Among Best Billiards’ clientele are many United States Billiard Association (USBA) members as well as international players from South America and Europe.

Two private pool rooms are located toward the back – one has its own bathroom. These were designed for players who come in to train with coaches. They can also be used for birthday parties.

“We are family-oriented and welcome all skill levels and all ages,” said Mary.

There’s no smoking. No music blares overhead. Thanks to the vibrant lime green interior, it’s neither dark nor dodgy.

The café is warm, friendly and classically Italian.

The café is warm, friendly and classically Italian.

“We’ve noticed that some people are wary. They’ll sort of cautiously push the door open and peek in,” said Mary. “But once they come inside, they are comfortable and immediately at ease.”

At Best Billiards you’re sure to have a fun and delicious time. Where else in Las Vegas, can you enjoy professional-caliber pool, sink some exciting shots and then sit down with your opponent to a frothy cappuccino and a plate of pasta? Molto bene!

Best Billiards, located at 3740 E. Flamingo Road, is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Free five-pin lessons are offered on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, call 702-990-0502.

Five More Places to Play Pool in Las Vegas

Got game? These five billiards hot spots are perfect for re-enacting scenes from cool pool movies like “The Color of Money.” Pretend you’re Tom Cruise as Vincent and mutter to a potential Fast Eddie-like opponent, “You want my game? You couldn’t deal with my game.”

Club Charleston (5740 W. Charleston Blvd.)―Situated on the northwest corner of Upland and Charleston boulevards, this adults-only pool hall offers serious billiards action in a casual atmosphere. The 11 Connelly pool tables with leather drop pockets are spaciously placed. Open 24 hours, there are in-house leagues that compete every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday afternoons. Patrons can also enjoy a wide selection of drinks (featuring the signature “ice cold” beer), watch sports on big-screen TVs, listen to one of 2,000 songs on the internet jukebox or play video poker and darts.

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas―On the third floor of this stylish new resort on the Strip, you’ll find an open lounge-like area with three ornate pool tables. They are free to use.

PoolStory_cueclubCue Club (953 E. Sahara Ave.)―Located in the Commercial Center and open 24 hours, this is not only the oldest pool hall in Las Vegas (established in 1964), but it’s also the largest with 15,000 square feet of playing area. There are 39 tables featuring 19 regulation tables, one billiards table and one 12-foot snooker table. Tournaments are held regularly and include one free hour of practice time. Nine-ball is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Patrons under the age of 21 are welcome until curfew. In addition to a pro shop, there’s a full cocktail bar and a grill, where you can savor a juicy burger.

Mickey’s Cues & Brews (7380 S. Eastern Ave.)―Established in 1991 by Michael Gresser, this is a family-operated business. Situated in south Las Vegas about a half a mile from McCarran International Airport, this clean and laid-back pool hall is housed in an 8,000-square-foot building. It boasts five nine-foot Diamond tables, nine nine-foot Brunswick Gold Crown III tables and 10 seven-foot Diamond bar box tables. All of them feature Arimith balls and Simonis felt. There’s an in-house league that’s sanctioned by the Billiard Congress of America (BCA), and every Wednesday night, you can join the “Handicap Nine-Ball Pool Tournament” at 8 p.m. The cost is $10 to buy in. Open 24 hours, all ages are welcome until curfew. Along with pool, patrons can play video poker, foosball and video games or watch sports on the 60-inch flat-screen TV. Since smoking is allowed, only drinks – beer, wine, soda and fruit juice – are served.

PoolStory_poolsharksPool Sharks (3650 S. Decatur Blvd.)―Situated just five minutes west of the Strip and also open 24 hours, this pool hall has been around in some form or another for more than 18 years. There are 27 tables (a mix of seven- and nine-foot lengths). Smoking is allowed here, so there is no food. Patrons must be at least 18 years old. Tournaments are held Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays for a $10 entry fee. BCA Hall of Famers have been known to stop in occasionally for a game.

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I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.