Shawn McClain, the James Beard Foundation winner for Best Chef Midwest in 2006, plans to open a new Italian restaurant on the north end of the Strip this fall. Ballo, Italian for dance, features light Italian cuisine when McClain opens the restaurant with his business partners, Richard and Sarah Camarota, at the Sahara.
“When you come to Ballo, we want to take you away, show you the real vibrant, colorful, sexy side of Italian food culture, whether it’s an intimate dinner or a real social gathering,” McClain says.
Simple ingredients highlighting vegetables form the base of menu that takes its cues from the coastal regions Southern Italy. “It really comes down to some really simplistic approach to ingredients, expertise, and precision,” he says. “We have some great tools in the kitchen — a wood-fired rotisserie and oven — so we can really present some really rustic ideas.”
An open kitchen lets diners see their food as it’s made, while a pasta window offers a glimpse inside the process. McClain and his team plan to offer fire-roasted meats and fish, Roman pizzas, a deli window, as well as an eclectic Euro-centric wine list, desserts featuring espresso liqueurs, and an apertivo cart.
The space plans to feature contemporary Italian art with smaller spaces for people to gather.
McClain first came to Las Vegas 12 years ago when he opened Sage, his stellar restaurant at Aria that closed permanently during the pandemic. The San Diego-born chef also opened Five50 Pizza Bar, which also permanently closed at Aria, along with Libertine Social, his gastropub at Mandalay Bay.
Ballo joins Philadelphia’s Chickie’s & Pete’s and hand-pulled noodles from chef Guoming “Sam” Xin to Noodle Den as part of the resort’s $150 million resort remodel that brings big changes to the Strip-facing exterior. Both of those restaurants open this summer.
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