Buddy V's Ristorante
3327 south Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109
Last year when we were in Las Vegas with my parents for a hockey game, they had wanted to visit Carlo's Bakery. No, make that, they were adamant that we visit Carlo's Bakery. Apparently, they are very big fans of this place because they watch Cake Boss, a reality show that features the bakery that Buddy Valastro runs with his family in Hoboken, New Jersey. I've never seen the show, but it must be a hit because there are now 18 Carlo's Bakery locations spread throughout the US. The show also spawned the place where we would be eating dinner on our first night in Las Vegas, Buddy V's Ristorante.
Buddy V's is located at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, right across from Carlo's Bakery. This hotel property has some of my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas; Canaletto, Bouchon, and Grimaldi's, and others that I am very excited to try in the near future, (Yardbirds, PrimeBurger, and more). Another added bonus about eating at Buddy V's was that we were able to make a reservation for our party of six on Open Table, so there was no waiting around for our table to become ready.
With reservation in hand, we arrived at Buddy V's at 8pm on a recent Friday. The restaurant was very busy but it was more of organized chaos. Not sure why, maybe it was the black and white tiled flooring, the wafts of Italian food being brought out to the tables, or something else, but the inside of this space reminded me of a slightly more upscale Maggiano's. Lots of people at the bar, a very open and active kitchen, and a display of some of the good looking cakes from across the hallway immediately caught our attention.
We were seated in the back row of booths, near the window featuring a fantastic view of the north side of the strip. The layout of the restaurant was pretty spacious, with plenty of room between tables, so you did not feel like you were on top of other parties. Even with the extra space though, it was really quite loud in here, which helped me drown out what I assume was a boring conversation at the end of the table.
The menu here is predictably broken up into starters, salads, pizzas, pasta, main dishes, sides, and of course since this is the Cake Boss's restaurant, desserts. Prices are pretty modest by Vegas standards, with entrees ranging between $25 to $46, pasta dishes hovering around the $25 mark, and pizzas going for $18. Let's see how this evening's dinner turned out for us.
Since Katie's brother and sister in law were staying at another hotel farther south down the strip, they were delayed waiting for their Uber, so we started with three appetizers to keep us occupied. The Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara ($13) was a good way to start things off. This dish exuded hominess with its smoked mozzarella and fontina cheese blend, egg, pancetta, and peas rounding it out. It was delicious, but the consistency was just a tad too soupy for my taste. A little better was Grandma's Meatballs ($13). Six meatballs made up of a mixture of veal, beef, and pork and then bathed in a marinara sauce with a sprinkle of parmesan. The meatballs were fork tender and the marinara was a great accompaniment, as it was not too acidic, with just the right sweetness to the sauce. I dreamed of having these in a sandwich, which they offer only during lunch. The Grilled Garlic Bread was another winner. They use the same cheeses on this bread as they use in their mac and cheese, fontina and mozzarella, and it gets nice and bubbly underneath the broiler. Very crunchy on the sides and soft in the middle, just like a good piece of garlic bread should be.
I was pretty full from the appetizers and the lobster roll I had earlier in the day, so I did without my usual Caesar Salad ($12), but luckily someone got one so I could snap a picture of one. It looked pretty good, with plenty of dressing, a sprinkling of parmesan and fresh romaine. The menu says they use polenta croutons, which I would have liked to have tried. Katie got a Dinner Salad ($9) which featured mixed greens, a variety of tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and a vinaigrette dressing. Pretty basic, but she seemed to like it well enough.
Entrees were up next, and we'll start with Rachel's selection on this evening, the Cheese Ravioli ($23). This pretty traditional ravioli was filled with ricotta and dusted with plenty of parmesan and a Pomodoro sauce. Rachel said she picked this because it seemed like the lightest of all the dishes here, and she was right about that. The six ravioli was one of the most manageable meals, as you will see as you scroll down.
Another pasta dish was next, as Katie tried the little heftier Orecchiette and Italian Sausage ($24). This pasta dish had a lot of flavors included in it. The well made orecchiette and subtle sausage was joined in the bowl with broccoli rabe, basil, pecorino, tomatoes, and a very good pesto sauce. Katie loved the pesto sauce at Buddy V's, as it went well with the freshly made pasta. The sausage was not as prominent in this as she imagined, which lead to a lighter tasting dish.
I was a little surprised by Lynn's selection on this evening, the Chicken Marsala ($27). She usually goes for a smaller meal, but maybe since she was in Las Vegas she was going a bit wild. The tender chicken was under a bunch of mushrooms and a delicious and rich marsala sauce. She put a pretty good sized dent in this, but could not finish it. This also came with linguine on the side, not that she needed it with this big plate.
Definitely, the best looking of all the entrees was this Nonna's Lasagna Al Forno ($26). This brick sized square of lasagna was made up of all things good; Italian sausage, pork, beef, mozzarella, provolone, and ricotta. This was a fantastic version of one of my favorite of all Italian dishes. It had a good balance of meat and cheese, the noodles were nice and firm, and the sauce covering this was a nice compliment to the rest of the dish. Dennis had no chance of finishing this but gave it a noble effort. Better luck next time big guy.
My smart-aleck brother in law thought he could slip a middle finger in the picture of his Quattro Formaggio Pizza ($18) but I cut around it. Got ya, buddy. Anyways, this four cheese pizza included ricotta, mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and was finished off with a touch of truffle oil. This was definitely an elevated cheese pizza. Good, crispy crust and the cheeses were of course fantastic. Nicely done.
When I perused the menu at Buddy V's, there was really only one thing that I just had to order, the Valastro Sunday Gravy ($28). This Italian combo plate came with meatballs, sausage, lamb, and pork covered in a zesty tomato sauce. The meats were wonderfully tender and I loved all of them. This came with a bowl of rigatoni that I really did not even bother with because I knew there was no way I was going to finish this plate. I was totally right.
It's been our tradition when we are making reservations in Las Vegas to let the restaurant know we are celebrating a birthday, even if it's still quite a way in the future. This time it was our beloved Rachel that had her faux birthday dessert. Buddy V's sent out a Canoli ($9). which was piped with sweet ricotta cream and studded with pistachios and chocolate chips on separate ends. I confess I did not try any of this because I was pretty uncomfortable with everything that I had eaten here. Everyone else really enjoyed this dessert, but next time I'd like to try their Nutella Cake, which I hear is amazing.
I'd say the moral of the story of our time at Buddy V's is to show up very hungry or be prepared to split meals because most entrees can be easily split between two very voracious eaters. This being Vegas, you also don't want to be lugging leftovers all over town with you. I'd characterize the food here as better than my last few trips to Maggiano's, which I used to love. This is stick to your ribs Italian cuisine. Italian food that makes you well aware that you just had a gigantic meal before going out and hitting the tables or seeing a show. Service was professional and moved things right along at a pretty good clip. Prices were not out of control based on the size of the meals. The next time we are in Vegas and have the cravings of Italian food dancing through our heads, we'd make a beeline right back to Bobby V's.
Out of five cakes, (since this is the Cake Boss's restaurant after all), five being best to zero being worst, Buddy V's Ristorante gets 3.5 cakes.
For more information about Buddy V's Ristorante, head to their website here: http://buddyvsrestaurants.com/