John Curtas is …



One of the ways a guy knows he’s middle-aged is when he sees a woman walking with her daughter and they both look good to him. And a sure fire way to tell if you’re too old or jaded to worship at a celebrity chef shrine is whether you think basking in some Food Network God’s absentee aura is worth the price of his ruining your meal – with things that have nothing to do with his cooking. Take that chef’s taste in music for example…PLEASE!

Because another sign of Sun City-i-tis settling in is when you don’t want the music to start. The hoary-yet-accurate cliche is that music in restaurants ruins both the music and the food, but truer words were never spoken.

Apparently though, they weren’t heard by Mario Batali. Probably because he was too busy listening to his music. And make no mistake, Molto Mario takes his music very seriously. He’s probably as proud of his musical tastes as he is of his cooking…..and now that he’s famous, he’s going to force feed the Flaming Lips on you just as eagerly as he does his oddly constructed pork chop that looks like a lonely, vertical blob o’ overcooked meat on the plate.

Actually, I kinda like the Flaming Lips, who sound a little like The Electric Light Orchestra crossed with Morrisey, just not with my linguine. I know these things because when you dine in at the new B&B Ristorante at the Venetian, Batali (who presumably knows you are there for the food and wine), subjects you to what he considers his tasteful and eclectic collection of pop and rock (at absurdly inappropriate sound levels), while you try to enjoy your meal.

Now one of the great joys (and I might add small victories) of life is watching the rich and famous make fools of themselves thinking their success in one arena qualifies them as experts in another. But Mario sets the bar pretty darn low when he thinks his skill in the kitchen qualifies him to match Jimi Hendrix with risotto tartufo. At least Henry Ford thought making cars gave him a leg up on dictating world peace, and….uh… sorry Mario, but the only things you should ever consume to All Along The Watchtower are pot, pizza, and a dozen Krispy Kremes.

If I were paying more attention to the food, which is hard to do at B&B over the din, I’d tell you the pastas are the strength of the menu-as most are fabulous, the appetizers overpriced and mediocre, and the right side of the menu – meats and fishes – done better at Valentino (just down the hall) and Circo, just down the street.

But dining at a Bastianich and Batali showplace is as much about feeding the over-sized egos of chef and patrons alike as it is about the quality of the food. With his blaring rock and roll soundtrack , Batali is telling us – Veruca Salt-like – that: “I want it MY way, Daddy!” and you should be as pleased with yourself for the privilege of basking in his glow, as he is in being able to bestow his good, or not so good, taste upon you.

Click here to hear my review of B&B Ristorante on KNPR – Nevada Public Radio.

B&B Ristorante at The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109

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