Apr 4, 2024 - Food and Drink

Alon Shaya opens Safta 1964 in Las Vegas

Alon Shaya poses for a photo in front of a wood-burning oven. He leans an elbow on a countertop with pita bread.

Alon Shaya created Saba, an Uptown New Orleans restaurant. Photo by Emily Ferretti

Alon Shaya goes glitz and glam this week with a new restaurant residency opening at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Why it matters: The New Orleans chef not-so-secretly hopes the new brand could become permanent.

The big picture: Safta 1964 is the fifth restaurant launched under Shaya's New Orleans-based group, Pomegranate Hospitality.

  • It all started when Shaya launched Saba, leaving behind his namesake restaurant to what was then called the Besh Restaurant Group.
  • Next came Safta, a Denver restaurant named in honor of Shaya's grandmother.

Zoom in: The new space reimagines that restaurant, Shaya tells Axios New Orleans.

  • But first "I was like, all right: Vegas, grandmother … how do we make that work?" Shaya says.
  • Ultimately, the restaurant has Shaya imagining what his grandmother may have been like if she'd been in Las Vegas when she was young and frivolous.

Flashback: The trip to the desert isn't new territory for Shaya.

  • Shaya interned in Las Vegas as a young culinary student, and he ended up living there after graduation.
  • "It seemed like Disney world," he says. "It seemed like the ultimate place in the world to cook food because everything was there. Money was never an object. It's all about seeing everything bigger and brighter and better."

Dig in: With Safta 1964, Shaya is able to pull off some dishes he couldn't in any other city.

  • Think ambrosia salads and Jell-O molds, with layers of yogurt and fresh fruit juices translating into strips of cherry and lime. They'll be carved table-side, like a technicolor roast beef.
  • Israeli flavors will come through in a king crab tagine, hand-rolled couscous and a Lebanese style beef tartare.
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