Italian family favorites on the Strip
Overlooking the Las Vegas Strip, Buddy V’s Ristorante at The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino is one of the most prime perches to have a meal in town. The first restaurant by celebrity baker Buddy Valastro of TLC’s Cake Boss, this outpost was inspired by a long tradition of family gatherings and recipes, passed down by Valastro’s mother, grandmother and aunts.
Across the way from Buddy’s V’s is Carlo’s Bakery, the first outside of the East Coast, where a constant line of folks queue for a taste of what made Valastro famous. Crowds gather outside the giant window to watch bakers in action creating his famed lobster tails, triangular puffed pastry pockets filled with French cream and Baileys. It’s a bit like watching fish in an aquarium, but fans of the show enjoy seeing the bakers, and when Valastro is in town, he’ll occasionally join them in the exhibition kitchen. Though don't worry about waiting in line — you can order many of the bakery treats, including the popular lobster tails, for dessert at the restaurant.
It can be a bit tricky to find Buddy V’s if you’re not familiar with the Grand Canal Shoppes, but if you can locate Barneys New York, you’re close. Head up the escalator to the second floor and adjacent to the beloved department store is the 11,000-square-foot restaurant. The lovely, open, bi-level dining room floor features a bar area near the front of the Las Vegas restaurant that affords an excellent view of the Strip. The décor reminds you you’re in a baker’s house, with accents such as strung-up rolling pins serving as a space divider and giant industrial whisks used in the chandeliers.
The Family Feast
Though this is Valastro’s first foray into the world of savory restaurants, the Italian-American already had an arsenal of recipes at the ready. Family favorites such as the Valastro Sunday gravy, a slow-simmered all-day affair that involves meatballs, sausage, lamb and pork over a bowl of rigatoni, or My Dad’s Bucatini Carbonara, where the hollow pasta is cooked simply with pancetta, black pepper and an egg. There’s also, of course, lasagna straight from nonna’s recipe book, made with Italian sausage, beef, pork and four cheeses.
Since Buddy V is all about family, one of the best ways you can celebrate with yours is at the Sunday “family brunch,” a buffet-style meal for one set price that makes you feel at home. There’s a whole antipasti section, devoted to salumi, cheeses and cold salads such as hearty panzanella and caprese, as well as the carvery, with maple-glazed ham, Italian sausage and slab bacon. And it wouldn’t be brunch without choices such as grandma’s meatballs, orecchiette and Italian sausage, panettone French toast and eggs
The sweetest touch can be found in the dessert menu — and we don’t mean just the confections. The menu is presented as a photo album, so when you’re perusing through the items such as butterscotch crème brûlée and the pastry that made him famous, Buddy V’s XL lobster tail, there are old photos of Valastro and his family growing up interspersed throughout the book.
Home-style Italian food is always in season in Las Vegas, especially when it’s from the hands and old-school recipes of such a family-oriented chef like Valastro.