Ambra serves up upscale Italian fare with a lively vibe

Ambra’s seafood tower, deconstructed
Photo: Wade Vandervort

Ambra is Italian for “amber.” It calls to mind a unique kind of luxury—rich, honey-colored gemstones; a Mediterranean sunset; and, in this case, a contemporary Italian restaurant on the Strip.

Having debuted late in the summer in the former Fiamma space, Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar at MGM Grand does what Vegas does best: serve up fun, approachable luxury. You could get engaged here—the ring delivered in a glass of Champagne from the 16-page wine list—and then return with your bedazzled friends for a bachelor or bachelorette party. The lush speakeasy room, Privata (Italian for “private”), waits for you with secret menus. Bring your coworkers there for a dinner meeting or simply drink at the bar, which faces Morimoto.

With Chef Vic Casanova at the helm (yes, that’s his real name), the menu is laden with indulgent Italian favorites. Handmade pastas include a spicy Rigatoni Amatriciana ($26) seasoned with Calabrian chiles and a meaty macaroni bolognese ($23).

For the full experience, begin with hot and cold antipasti, such as the signature prime beef tartare ($24) and meatballs al forno ($16). Sample the luscious bluefin tuna ($27) from the crudos menu or splurge on the Ambra Tower ($110), which offers all the gifts of the sea: crab, lobster, shrimp and more.

Crown the evening with an entree. The grilled branzino ($45) is exquisite, while the Chicken Parmigiano ($31) ranks among Vegas’ best. The tender veal chop marsala ($69) is topped with morels and porcinis and served with a marsala sauce and anchovy butter.

Pair the meal with a few cleverly named cocktails, like the Matcha Thinking ($16), with green tea, sake and grapefruit, or the You Can’t Catch Me ($16), with cinnamon syrup and gingerbread rooibos-infused Ketel One.

When it’s time for dessert, the server will roll out an Amaro liquor cart. The dolces are Italian favorites with a showy twist: The tiramisu ($15) is topped with a gold leaf and a dark chocolate disk, while the prosecco granita bellini ($15) is finished with flaming cotton candy.

AMBRA Italian Kitchen + Bar MGM Grand, 702-891-7600. Monday-Thursday, Sunday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.

Tags: Dining, Food
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