America did not invent pizza, but it does seem as if it has perfected it and made it their very own. James Beard award-winning Executive Chef Shawn McClain decided to take it a step further and make pizza his very own with his latest restaurant Five50 Pizza Bar, located inside of ARIA Casino & Resort. With Chef McClain at the helm you know you are not going to get a typical pizza and he does not disappoint.
Five50 does serve up some tasty classics, the margherita, the gotham (meatlovers) as well as providing guests with a lengthy list of toppings so that they can create your very own Five50 pizza. Chef McClain then lets his creativity out with the rest of the pizza menu, which includes: truffle, North Beach, farmstead and you get a sense that he has a liking for ricotta as the blanca and forager, as both contain that rich cheese as a topping.
So many pizzas, so many toppings, where do you begin? Well the gotham has quickly become the favorite in the short history of Five50 Pizza Bar, which opened in early July. Who doesn’t love a pizza covered with a variety of meats, but Chef McClain made this truly the ultimate meat lovers with his toppings of in-house created sausage, salami, mozzarella, grana padano and imported pepperoni. That might be the most popular, but the most memorable has to be the truffle pizza. The smell alone as it is being brought to your table will live in the annals of your mind forever. The shaved truffles and truffle salami take the intensity flavor of this pizza way up. Chef McClain also added a great twist to the pizza as he placed thin slices of potato that had been cooked in olive oil before being placed on the pizza and then in the oven. You will love the texture that the potatoes bring, tender and cooked just right to give you a great bite as you are getting that chewy and crispy crust.
The most shocking item on the menu to me was the Heirloom tomato salad, shocking because I loved it so much. This salad proves that if you take some of the best ingredients of the world, the food just speaks for itself. The tomatoes were delicate and full of flavor, incredibly juicy and they were plated perfectly with the equally soft burrata cheese. Eating this salad while drinking the Lemon Basil cocktail, adult-like lemonade made with Ketel One Citroen and Stiegl Lemon Shandy, could be the best combination to combat the Las Vegas heat.
Chef McClain wanted to provide a menu that was wide ranging and he succeeded. One of his favorite items to feature on any menu is octopus and he managed to find a way to make it fit into the Five50 setting. He serves up a flawless octopus and then puts it on crunchy toasted crostini and served with a roasted fennel puree and eggplant caponata providing a wide range of flavors with each bite. Five50 also has a meat and cheese bar that is a great way to enhance your flavor experience as you can try items such as: chorizo, prosciutto in the meat department and who can pass up the incredibly rich blue cheese or try something new like the San Andreas sheep cheese from Oregon.
While pizza is king at Five50, to not mention the handmade pastas would be a crime. To find a dish like the wild mushroom ravioli in a so-called pizza restaurant was an amazing find. Not everyone is going to want to get pizza so perusing the menu if you are looking for a dish that will wow you this is it. The ravioli had the fresh just rolled slightly doughy sense to it and was filled with beautifully flavored braised veal breast and topped with mushrooms that tasted so fresh you would think they were grown on the roof of ARIA. Just to share this one at the table is a must to experience this dish.
The question on everyone’s mind is what is behind the name Five50? Well first off it is the temperature of the wood-fired oven that churns out the amazing crust on Chef McClain’s pizza and secondly it is the cost of a slice of pizza, $5.50. Five50 keeps the slice counter open until 2 a.m., so whether you are leaving Haze or the Gold Lounge or coming out of a show, this has quickly become the late night haven of the hungry.
Five50 has created one of the ultimate chocolate lovers desserts with the milk chocolate-lavender custard, don’t be fooled by the lavender in the name of this delectable dessert. There is an undertone of lavender, but that little floral flavor is a nice compliment to a supremely chocolate dessert. While you get a great textural contrast with the combination of chocolate streusel, whipped crème fraiche and chocolate pearls, the custard really makes this a light dessert that is the perfect end to a rich meal.
Five50 Pizza Bar is the perfect compliment to ARIA, finally providing a more casual faire, while giving you first class ingredients. It really doesn’t matter if you are passing by and looking for an amazing slice of pizza or if you want a sit down experience, Five50 is one of the great new treats in all of Las Vegas.
For more information on Five50 Pizza Bar, visit: http://www.arialasvegas.com/dining/restaurants/five50