Having recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, Buddy V’s Ristorante in the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian Las Vegas gives guests a delicious taste of what Sunday dinner at the Valastro house is like–seven days a week.
Growing up in downstate New York, my family was one of many that would frequently make the over two-hour drive down to the Jersey Shore to visit our grandparents and gather for Grandma’s Sunday “gravy”: Massive meatballs made with pork, veal and beef, hand-packed and served with mounds of pasta and a red sauce that caused a family riot when Grandma passed and it was discovered nobody ever got the recipe. Three decades later, the closest experience to those magical memories is driving down to the Las Vegas Strip to Cake Boss Buddy Valastro’s eponymous restaurant and enjoying the Valastro Sunday Gravy, featured prominently at Buddy V’s Ristorante.
Massive picture windows along the far wall reveal stunning views of the Strip from most tables in the dining room. A few small stairs take you to the lounge and bar area, and to the side of the dining room, there are multiple large tables and semi-private dining areas for larger families or business gatherings. The large open kitchen helps keep the energy high throughout the restaurant and the teamwork between the front-of-house staff keeps the familial vibes going. It really feels like you’re in a family restaurant the way everyone works in cohesion and shows love for each other. That’s hard to find! The rolling pins suspended in between different sections are a cute ode to Buddy V’s bakery roots.
The specialty cocktail list has some mainstays and some rotating selections. Buddy’s Old Fashioned (or Manhattan) is highlighted in the menu. Either selection is simple and straightforward, but using Amador Double Barrel Bourbon is what makes it a standout choice. The Espresso with a Twist is a wonderful, well, twist on an Espresso Martini. The restaurant uses El Tequileño Reposado – a wonderful choice due to the smooth flavor notes that complement espresso so well (cinnamon and vanilla), then adds Kahlua, Licor 43 and, of course, espresso. California and Italian wines make up the majority of the wine list both by the glass and bottle. Italian food pairs wonderfully with Italian wine, and there’s plenty of variety to choose from. Bottled and draft beer and a selection of mocktails are also available.
As you’d expect from an East Coast Italian family, the servings are generous. Whether you’re ordering antipasto, pasta or a main dish, there’s almost always plenty to go around. If you’re dining with a group, make a few selections from throughout the menu and take advantage of the sharing plates provided. In the antipasto section, the smoked Bellwether Farms ricotta is as delicious as the presentation is beautiful. Bellwether Farms is located in Sonoma County, but the cow’s milk used for the cheese is from New Jersey. The soft, slightly sweet cheese is smoked en route to the table in a glass jar and is served with spicy honey, very crispy prosciutto and grilled ciabatta with a large basil leaf underneath the cheese serving. The flavors all contrast beautifully and each ingredient stands out. Calamari Fritti is a standard on many Italian menus but few places does it better than Buddy V’s. The Anaheim peppers give the dish a slightly sweet and spicy touch. Order it “Hoboken style” for a blend of hot pickled peppers, garlic and EVOO that really take things up a notch. A variety of salads are available and protein can be added to any of them, turning them into a full meal. There is also Buddy’s Salumi & Cheese Board with accompaniments that is a must for any large group.
Pastas can be enjoyed either as a shared second course before the meal or on its own as a meal. Once again, protein can be added to any pasta dish. All the classics like fettuccine alfredo, spaghetti and meatballs, and so on are always available. One of the signature pasta dishes is My Mother-in-Law’s Linguine Shrimp Scampi. The thin, flat linguine noodle is perfect for the big, juicy shrimp, letting the flavors shine and providing a perfect base for the dish. A dish that multiple staff members claim as their favorite is Nonna’s 7 Layer Lasagna, containing Italian sausage, beef and pork, and ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
In the “Mains” section, a variety of chicken, fish and meat dishes are available. Most are served with a side of pasta. One of the signature dishes in the entrees is The Boss XL Veal Parm Chop. When the dish comes out, guests looks like when a cartoon character is served a ridiculously large plate of food, their eyes bulge out of their head – and then proceed to scarf the entire thing down. The oven-baked dish is served with spaghetti marinara and topped with fresh mozzarella cheese. The breading is the key to making this veal chop parmesan such a standout. Perfectly coated to stand up to the sauce, it keeps a consistent crunch until the last bite. The fresh mozzarella acquainted itself with the broiler for the perfect amount of time to create a melty, slightly golden topping.
As one would expect from the man known for Carlo’s Bakery and its outposts, Cake Boss and Buddy Valastro’s Cake Dynasty, dessert is taken seriously at Buddy V’s Ristorante. Traditional tiramisu, cannoli and other selections are available as well as one of the highlights – six sugared doughnut holes that come fresh out of the oven served with three dipping sauces and pair nicely with a coffee or after-dinner cocktail.
Buddy V’s Ristorante is open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
For more information, visit buddyvsrestaurants.com.
3327 S. Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109