Shawn McClain’s Balla Strip-Facing Gets an Opening Date

Chef Shawn McClain’s new restaurant, winner of the James Beard Foundation for Best Chef in the Midwest in 2006, is set to officially open Sept. 30 at Sahara Las Vegas. Balla Italian Soul, formerly Ballo, will offer a regional and seasonal menu of Italian cuisine in a bright and airy restaurant facing the Las Vegas Strip.

Linguine with Balla Italian Soul
Italian balla soul

“We do Italian a little differently, focusing on appetizer culture and well-prepared, wood-grilled flavors, while keeping pasta and pizza close to our hearts,” says McClain, who opens the restaurant with his business partners, Richard and Sarah Camarota.

Chef Shawn McClain adds sauce to a dish

Chief Shawn McClain
Italian balla soul

Thick toast with clams, mussels, calamari

Seafood toast
Italian balla soul

The dinner menu will include small plates like octopus marinated in Calabrian pepper, lamb tartare with marinated eggplant and shellfish toast with ‘nduja sausage spread. Pasta selections will include crab, chilli and summer squash linguini, a bowl of squid ink shells with puttanesca sauce and salt pork lardo agnolotti. Among the menu of Roman-style pizzas are the wood-fired ‘nduja pizza with candied potatoes and smoked cheese, and a classic margherita. Other dishes on the menu include lemon sea bream, bone-in 22-ounce rib eye, and black garlic Delmonico pork.

A plate with a large cut of ribeye

Entrecote with bone
Italian balla soul

The drinks menu will highlight negronis and spritzes, while desserts will include panna cotta with limoncello, baked crostata pies with pluots and goat cheese ice cream, as well as an assortment Italian cookies.

The Strip-facing Balla, located on the casino floor, opens to a glass deli station and bar with a brick ceiling and brass fixtures. An open kitchen allows diners to see their food as it is being prepared, while a pasta window offers a glimpse into the process. The main dining room is decorated with lit olive trees, Italian photographs and bold murals, seating 120 people.

A rendering of Ballo's patio

A rendering of the patio at Balla Italian Soul
Innovative Design Inc.

McClain has already opened eight restaurants in Chicago, Las Vegas and Detroit. The San Diego-born chef first came to Las Vegas 13 years ago when he opened Sage, his beloved restaurant in Aria which closed permanently during the pandemic. He also opened Five50 Pizza Bar, which also closed in Aria, and Libertine Social, his gastropub in Mandalay Bay.

Balla joins Philadelphia’s Chickie’s & Pete’s and chef Guoming “Sam” Xin’s the Noodle Den as part of the $150 million resort’s renovation that brings big changes to the Strip-facing exterior and a new “row restaurants”. Balla Italian Soul will offer dinner from Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

2535 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109

2535 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109

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