I dined at Bobby Flay’s new Italian restaurant in Las Vegas and it’s worth the hype

Las Vegas is practically synonymous with celebrity chef eateries and the resorts of Caesars Entertainment are home to a lengthy menu of A-list chefs. From Gordon Ramsay and Guy Savoy, to  Giada De Laurentiis and Bobby Flay, diners have a cornucopia of tastes to sip and savor in Sin City.

The latest celebrity chef dining experience to join Caesars Entertainment comes from Bobby Flay, Food Network icon and famed restauranteur. Flay has gained notoriety from award-winning Mesa Grill and countless television credits ranging from “Great Chefs” to “Beat Bobby Flay” and most recently, “BBQ Brawl” which airs Mondays on the Food Network.

The chef’s latest creation, Amalfi by Bobby Flay, is already highly anticipated after just having its official grand opening on June 18 with Flay hosting the celebration at Caesars Palace.

“This one was all about passion, about an obsession I have with Italy and specifically the Amalfi Coast,” Flay said prior to the grand opening.

Amalfi is inspired by the chef’s extensive travels to the Amalfi Coast and focuses on coastal, regional flavors. The menu highlights antipasti such as charred octopus with burnt orange and pancetta alongside tuna tartare with crispy rice and Calabrian chile sauce. Fresh pastas include a squid ink fettucine with lobster, shrimp and Fra Diavolo sauce and, the chef favorite, Scialatielli with a scampi sauce and basil.

Whole Roasted Fish with Calabrian Pepper Pesto and Roasted Lemon at Amalfi by Bobby Flay

Whole Roasted Fish with Calabrian Pepper Pesto and Roasted Lemon at Amalfi by Bobby Flay

courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

Yet the focal point of Amalfi by Bobby Flay is the fresh fish and seafood display reminiscent of the chef’s visits to coastal markets. This is exactly where Flay suggests diners start when designing their menu for a night out.

“The centerpiece of the restaurant is the fish market that we have in the back,” Flay said at the restaurant’s grand opening. “There’s a fishmonger there and he or she knows exactly everything about these fish. What their names are, what their characteristics are, where they come from, and how they should be cooked.”

Once guests select their fish, the kitchen prepares it to their liking, be it grilled over charcoal or roasted al forno and served with Meyer lemon and capers, red pepper and Calabrian chile pesto or salsa verde.

Chef Bobby Flay in the kitchen at Amalfi by Bobby Flay, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Chef Bobby Flay in the kitchen at Amalfi by Bobby Flay, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

“I think the table should be filled with some beautiful fish, some handcrafted pastas, and a bunch of Italian style cocktails,” Flay said, guiding diners on their first experience at Amalfi. “It’s an easy breezy cuisine, but it has tons of flavor from the way that I prepare it.”

Those familiar with Flay’s culinary background will notice his flavor preferences haven’t strayed. “I find chiles no matter what, and I’m using tons of Calabrian chiles that are big in Naples and part of the Amalfi Coast … so I was happy I could transfer the chiles of Mexico and the Southwest to the chiles of Italy to still come out of the same kitchen,” said Flay.

The Italian-style cocktails Flay mentions are an important component of the Amalfi menu, with the signature Amalfi Spritz a must-try. This refreshing beverage brings together Selim Spumante, Cappelletti Aperitivo and soda for a vibrant and fresh coastal concoction. Flay’s popular Limonata cocktail mixes Bacardi rum, Limonata soda, lemon and mint for a crisp, but easy pre-dinner beverage. For dinner pairings, Amalfi’s wine list focuses on the Campania region and beyond.

Guests visiting Amalfi by Bobby Flay will be transported to the Mediterranean thanks to the venue’s timeless design aesthetic. The natural palette combines stone and wood materials accented by greenery throughout, with organic fabrics and warm lighting adding depth to the cozy coastal atmosphere.

Amalfi Spritz, comprised of Selim Spumante, Cappelletti Aperitivo and soda

Amalfi Spritz, comprised of Selim Spumante, Cappelletti Aperitivo and soda

courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

The main dining room is an airy rustic space with towering wine displays and a full view of the kitchen. From here, guests can see fish selections heading to the kitchen for their customized prep, and during my dining experience Flay himself was hands-on and plating at the pass. His passion for Amalfi was clear well beyond the celebratory curtain drop.

“I’ve been part of Caesars Palace for a long time,” Flay said during his interview with the Seattle P-I. In fact, the space Amalfi occupies was formerly the chef’s acclaimed Mesa Grill, which had a run of 16 years. When Caesars approached the chef to ask whether he’d like to continue Mesa Grill or try something different, Flay had an immediate response. He says he told the team at Caesars, “Well, I’m really kinda into Italy right now in a big way and I’ve never opened an Italian restaurant and I think a fish restaurant would be amazing, so why don’t we do something based on the Amalfi Coast.”

Flay says that decision was made prior to the pandemic and that Amalfi was designed while everything was shut down. When asked about the good that came out of his downtime, Flay said, “I wouldn’t hope for it to ever happen again, that’s for sure.”

“That said, I go to work in every environment, and I just went to work in a very different way during the pandemic,” the chef said, referencing the inability to be present in a restaurant. “So I basically sat down and thought about what was important to me and what I wanted to do, with what my real passions were.”

While Amalfi took shape, so too did a number of other projects the chef is proud of. “My daughter, obviously, is the most important thing to me, and she and I started a podcast together. It’s been really great,” Flay said. “Even my cat, who is really well known, started his own food company. And Italy is a very passionate thing to me, so all three of those things are really my passions, and I figured out a way to bring them to life, based on sitting around and cooking full meals at home like everybody else.”

Award-winning chef Bobby Flay brings Bobby's Burgers to the Forum Food Hall at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Award-winning chef Bobby Flay brings Bobby’s Burgers to the Forum Food Hall at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

courtesy of Caesars Entertainment, Jason Lasswell

Another shift that took place during the pandemic was Flay’s quick-serve burger restaurants. Vegas regulars may find Bobby’s Burgers Palace a familiar name, yet Flay took time during the pandemic to rethink his burger eateries and offer something new to diners, Bobby’s Burgers, now open in the Forum Food Hall at Caesars Palace.

On the transformation, Flay said, “We rebranded it, changed the name, we changed the menu, we changed the scope of it, and it’s worked out really well.”

Visitors to Bobby’s Burgers will find budget-friendly dining options the whole family can enjoy, including the famous Crunchburger featuring American cheese, potato chips, and Bobby’s Sauce. Sides include cheese fries, sweet potato fries and buttermilk onion rings. Handcrafted shakes range from classic vanilla bean and dark chocolate to a Flay favorite, pistachio.  

Pistachio makes an appearance on the Amalfi dessert menu, too, with Bobby’s Pistachio Sundae made of pistachio gelato, dark chocolate sauce, Amarena cherries, vanilla crema and chopped pistachios topping it off. Another must-try dessert is the Lemon, Lemon, Lemon treat consisting of lemon cake, lemon custard and lemon crisps.

Chef Bobby Flay in the kitchen at Amalfi

Chef Bobby Flay in the kitchen at Amalfi

courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

To Bobby Flay fans who wonder if the chef has moved on from his roots in Southwest flavors, the answer is not quite. “Mesa Grill had an amazing run,” Flay said.

“At some point, I’m looking forward to the next version of it. Maybe the 2023 version of what that would be. That’s very different than what it would be from 1991 or even 2020,” Flay said. “That cuisine is definitely part of me forever and I’m going to, at some point, do the next version of it.”

Amalfi by Bobby Flay at Caesars Palace is open 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Reservations are encouraged.