Saturday, May 3, 2014

Restaurant Review: Buddy V's, Las Vegas, NV

Buddy V's - lunch on April 28, 2014
After that stellar overeating at the M Buffet, I did manage to eat again almost an entire day later. This time, we avoided the buffets and instead my mom, sister and I went to Buddy V's Ristorante at the Grand Canal Shoppes located between the Venetian and the Palazzo. I really was heading for Carlo's Bakery, also a Buddy V shop, because I wanted to check it out but his restaurant was right across from it and it was lunchtime so we decided to eat there. Buddy V is Buddy Velastro, TLC's Cake Boss. I'd heard of Cake Boss but never really watched the show. That might be surprising since it involves sugar, butter and pretty baked goods you eat but I don't watch a lot of TV and my culinary TV watching is mostly limited to Cupcake Wars on Food Network.
Anyway, we didn't have a reservation since it was the impulse of the moment to go to Buddy V's but we were able to get a table in the lounge section of the restaurant, no waiting, by the windows so we could see the Strip outside. Otherwise it would have been a 15-20 minute wait. For Vegas, that's actually not bad, especially for "celebrity chef" restaurants.

Buddy V's menu offers a good selection of Italian dishes. There are the ones you would expect like spaghetti, lasagna, chicken piccata and shrimp scampi but there were also less typical dishes like Agnolotti ("miniature ravioli, Sunday gravy-style veal shank, sausage and pork, brown butter"), Buddy's Salumi and Cheese Board, and Roasted Branzino (European seabass). My sister, a much more adventurous eater than I, went with the Sicilian Charred Octopus Salad. You lost me at "charred", "octopus" and "salad". But she loved it and thought it tasted amazing.
Sicilian Charred Octopus Salad - $18
My mom went with the linguine and clam sauce entree. My mom's a good cook and she makes a similar pasta but both she and my sister (who was sneaking in "a taste") thought this was extremely delicious. My sister said it was the best white clam sauce pasta she's ever had and when she recommended this restaurant to her boyfriend for the following night, advised him to get the linguine with clam sauce. So, if you like clams and pasta, this was apparently a winner.
Lisa V's Linguine & White Clam Sauce - $26
My own more sedate entree was the Bucatini Carbonara. Don't let its humble appearance fool you. I loved this. Normally, I get carbonara out of both indulgence (hey, I'm on vacation and I'm in Vegas) and defiance (yeah, I know I pigged out the day before but I haven't eaten in almost a day and I ran this morning). Whatever my reasons, I'm glad I got this one. When the server first placed the plate in front of me, I'm not going to lie, I thought the portion was a trifle on the small side. I mean, c'mon, we're in Vegas, the land of tacky glitz and super-size-me. But sometimes less is more and, in this case, that was a good thing. The sauce was rich and creamy like most carbonaras but it was also delicious and full of flavor. The pancetta provided a nice contrasting saltiness but wasn't overly salty. The portion size turned out to be perfect because with a sauce that rich, you don't want a lot. The only jarring note was on what was literally my last bite, I found a small strip of plastic nestling with the last bit of pancetta and noodle. Fortunately I found it with my fork and not by eating it. Now, these things happen and I've never found it to be a big deal. It's not like it was a bug or anything. It was just a stray piece of plastic that was likely wrapped around the pancetta and inadvertently got sliced into the dish along with the meat.
Bucatini Carbonara - $23
I did bring it to the server's attention though, not to be obnoxious, but to make them aware so they know to be more careful in the kitchen. I didn't mind so much but not everyone takes these things into stride and I wouldn't want anyone to get into trouble if a fussier patron happened along. The server apologized and the manager came to our table a few minutes later to extend his own apology. He offered us dessert but we were pretty full and I had no intention of repeating the hurt from the M Buffet so we politely declined. But when the server came back with our bill, she said her manager really wanted us to have dessert so she offered us something to go. They were genuinely apologetic and it seemed churlish to refuse, especially since I wasn't upset about the plastic mistake so I accepted their offer. Which is how we ended up with a complementary 2 cannolis to go.
I'm not a big fan of cannolis but I'd heard it was what Buddy Valastro was famous for so I wanted to try it. It saved me buying it at his bakery across the way because I had intended to. We didn't try the cannolis until later that afternoon but they were nicely packaged in a plastic container with a side of hot fudge sauce. I didn't want to wait too long because I knew they were cream-filled and figured the cannoli shell would soften quickly. However, I was pleasantly surprised that they still remained crisp. The shells were of a thickness that they were heartily crunchy rather than delicately crispy. Unfortunately I didn't like them as much as I had hoped. I think if they had been filled with traditional pastry cream like the one I make, I would've liked them just fine. But they're filled with cannoli cream which is made of ricotta cheese and sometimes cream cheese. I don't like the taste of either and, not being a fan of cream-filled desserts in the first place, the cannolis were just okay to me. However, my sister, who normally doesn't like a lot of sweets, loved the cannolis. She ate a whole one, minus the taste test bite I had. I probably consume more sugar in a day than she does in a week so if she liked it, it's good if you're a cannoli lover.

Overall, I liked Buddy V's. The food was good, the setting was bright and airy, it wasn't too crowded, the wait staff were nice and they handled the unfortunate plastic addition to my dish with courtesy and professionalism. The prices were in the mid to high range but for Vegas, that's actually pretty reasonable. Thumbs up - I'd go back again next time I'm in town.


  1. There's a lot of hype surrounding Carlo's Bakery--my sister made me take her and my niece to the original in NJ--and I have to agree about the cannolis, not my favorite. BUT--their lobster tail pastry--(thank heavens I had read reviews online to know about them)--those are outstanding. Still not worth waiting in line for them, though. Glad to know his restaurant gets high marks, too.

    1. The lobster tail pastry is on the dessert menu at Buddy V's - I'll have to try them next time I'm there. My bakery review of Carlo's Bakery is going up soon :).