Chef Bruce Kalman Opens His First Las Vegas Restaurant
Leaving fine dining Italian cuisine for American BBQ, James Beard-nominated and Bravo Top Chef favorite Chef Bruce Kalman opened his first Las Vegas restaurant with business partner Richard Camarota, dubbed Soulbelly BBQ, in the heart of the Downtown’s Arts District May 13, 2021.
Kalman says, “I came to Las Vegas because a chef friend of mine convinced me it was a great place to start a business. I’ve been so warmly welcomed by the incredible culinary and business community. I want Soulbelly to be something special that celebrates the amazing soul of Las Vegas and its people. We’ve held a series of pop-ups to build momentum, but it’s finally time to show the city of Las Vegas what we’ve been smoking!”
“We saw an opportunity to bring a totally new experience to Las Vegas’ growing off-strip dining scene. The combination of great, honest barbecue, cooler beers, American whiskey and live music is something we’re really passionate about and excited for people to enjoy. We’re also really proud and grateful to be joining this awesome family of indie restaurants, bars, shops in the area; the whole neighborhood is set to explode with energy as the world re-opens,” says Camarota.
From fine Italian to American BBQ – Chef Bruce Kalman’s Evolution
A veteran chef, Kalman became most known for his time at and ownership of LA’s Knead & Co. Pasta Bar + Market and Pasadena’s UNION, where he wowed diners with his Italian cuisine.
Committed to art of cooking, Kalman has always prided himself on house-crafted dishes created with the best-quality ingredients. In a kismet meeting, Kalman found himself at a charity event also attended by Backbeat BBQ founder and Foo Fighters Front Man Dave Grohl. To help Grohl serve the crowds, Kalman was introduced to the passion, effort and incredible community of American BBQ. From that experience, Soulbelly BBQ was born.
A Chef’s Take on Regional American BBQ
Coming from a very different side of the culinary industry “barbecue has been humbling,” says Kalman. “I really wanted to respect the tradition while putting my own spin on my meats. I’m taking a little more of a chef’s approach than a pitmaster’s, though the heart of the industry and culture can still be tasted.”
Signature #jigglymeatdishes include Kalman’s Salt & Pepper Brisket, Carolina Pulled Pork, Chipotle Cider Glazed Drumsticks, Pork Spare Ribs, housemade Hatch Chile and Cheddar Hot Links, and Texas Sausages.
Sides That Don’t Suck
From handcrafted pasta and chicharrón breadcrumbs for the Mac and Cheese, to extensive recipe testing for the Coleslaw, Kalman dedicated his efforts toward ensuring that each dish on Soulbelly BBQ’s menu was crafted with full flavor in mind.
Further showcasing his creative side, Kalman has adorned the bar menu with rotating bites like Pigs In A Blanket, Frito Pie, Pickled Eggs, Chicharrón Chips, Pimento Cheese Dip and more.
Cooler Beer & American Whiskey
Soulbelly BBQ’s beer and cocktail program features American beers like Lone Star and Shiner, alongside locally brewed Nevada beers. Most notably, HUDL Brewing, Soulbelly BBQ’s next-door neighbor, is specially brewing the Charred & Shifty – an American red made with Garrison Brothers barrel ashes in the mash.
Putting the Soulbelly spin on classic cocktails, the menu is dressed with sips including an Old Fashioned and Mint Julip, beside twists like the Sweet Tea Sangria and the Lunch Box.
A Garage With Rustic Soul
This former automotive garage turned restaurant was carefully designed to reflect and honor the culture surrounding American BBQ. Murals on each side of the space showcase iconic figures like the Queen of Texas BBQ and pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz, alongside southern musicians like Koko Taylor and Buddy Guy.
Again tying in Kalman’s love for music, the restaurant has a 16-by-8 foot stage, which will soon become home to live musicians. A few special accent features include Soulbelly BBQ’s mascot, an antique metal pig now named “Lambchop,” and the vintage beverage cooler parked near the front of the restaurant.
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