John Curtas is …

BUDDY V’S Doesn’t Suck Like We Thought It Would

Leave the shells, take the filling

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Before we get to explaining the headline, a question:

Why are all cannoli shells as hard as a rock?

Are they supposed to be that way?

Does Mama Leone go out of her way to teach her bambinos: “Nowa youza gots to make-a these-a sosa they break-a your teeth-a each-a and every time-a, capiche?”*

It must be so, because Buddy V’s does nothing to disabuse you of the notion that these cylindrical tubes could double as Bangalore torpedoes should another land war break out in Europe.

This is a bit surprising since Buddy V is, like-a a cake decorator/pastry chef or something, who one might think would pay a bit more attention to the safety of his customer’s bicuspids. (Before we get to explaining things further, you should know that ELV regards cake decorating — the baton twirling of the culinary world — with the same contempt he usually reserves for fast food pizza, Republican presidential candidates and the Kardashians.)

Those shells may have been harder than trigonometry, but they did nothing to dissuade us from concluding that if red and dead Italian-American cooking is your thing, you can do a lot worse than this newbie in the old First Food & Bar space at the Venetian.

The origins of this Elizabeth Blau/Kim Canteenwalla production started with Sheldon “Call Me Shellie” Adelson — who apparently commissioned an Italian wedding cake of appropriately over-the-top proportions for one of his relatives from Buddy Valastro. So enamored was he of Valastro’s talents (and of the revenue he might regain from this hidden corner of his property) that a deal was inked to have the Cake Boss’ brand (and the family recipes!) affixed to this enterprise.

So, with all of that as its pedigree, Buddy V’s launched a couple of months ago. If you know anything about us, you know that ELV was absolutely, positively underwhelmed by the whole idea.

“Vegas needs more red sauce like Chris Christie needs another cheeseburger,” is what he thought to himself as he walked through the open portal:

Once you find it, you won't leave hungry

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We were hoping to sneak in, but sneaking in just doesn’t happen for ELV on the Strip anymore, so we were seated and got the full, intensive-care treatment. (Most of our loyal readers know that we rarely mention service for this very reason. But the waitron assigned to us was a real pro – attentive, briefly chatty and solicitous, but also mostly invisible.)

Once seated, we did the p.r. thing and chatted up the chefs (more on that later) and Katie Conway (one of our favorite p. r. gals in the world) before getting down to business — that business being plowing through about a third of the menu.

To our amazement, almost every dish was a clear winner. The eggplant parm (yeah, that’s all the dignity this menu gives to the word parmigiana – in accordance with all the dignity Italian-Americans have brought to these shores) is a double layer of twice baked eggplant both crispy and creamy, and so good you’ll be tempted to order another portion. (This from an avowed eggplant-hater, so you know it’s good.) Grandma’s meatballs may not challenge Rao’s recipe for local meatball hegemony, but they disappeared quickly after a number of dips and dustings in a vivid tomato ragu and some sharp Pecorino Romano. Those meatballs made another appearance in Valastro Sunday Gravy:

Bring an appetite...and a friend with an appetite

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…and amalgam of every popular protein — meatballs, sausage, lamb shank and pork — simmered until they’re falling-off-the-bone tender and then simmered some more in the family marinara sauce. It’s quite the meat and red sauce-fest, but also quite toothsome when served with a big plate of al dente rigatoni.

Almost as good was the linguine and clams:

Almost as good as Rao's

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….and a veal Marsala:

Good veal, properly Marsala'd

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….that showed some real care in the kitchen.

We joked with Canteenwalla that a Canadian-Indian (dots, not feathers) chef shouldn’t be cooking Italian this well, and that’s when he trotted out Bryan Forgione (he of the Italian-American Forgione restaurant dynasty), and that’s when it all made sense to us. Forgione has this food in his blood and it shows. His substantial chops are probably being wasted here, but as long as he and Canteenwalla are paying attention, you will be surprised by the vibrancy of this food.

John Mariani  has said for years that there’s nothing complicated about Italian-American food. All it needs, according to the author of The Italian-American Cookbook, is to be seasoned and cooked with care…and good ingredients. Then and only then can it really sing.

Buddy V’s may not be hitting the high notes in Rigoletto, but it carries its tune quite nicely.

ELV’s dinner for two, which could’ve fed four, came to $130+$30 tip, and included several glasses of wine.

BUDDY V’S RISTORANTE

In the Shoppes at the Venetian/Palazzo Hotel and Casino (Remember: when they spell it “shoppes” they’ve seen you comin’.)

3327 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.607.2355

www.buddyvlasvegas.com

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

* For this bad Italian accent (and any and all offensive references to Italians)  we hereby apologize to John Arena and John Mariani…but necessarily to all Italians.

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4 Responses to BUDDY V’S Doesn’t Suck Like We Thought It Would

  • And then there are these Italian-Americans:

    Vito Acconci
    Pietro Belluschi
    Giorgio Cavaglieri
    Mario J. Ciampi
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    Mario Salvadori
    Lawrence Scarpa
    Ricardo Scofidio
    Paolo Soleri
    Robert Venturi
    Brian Azzarello – comic book writer
    Joseph Barbera (1911–2006) animator, cartoon artist, storyboard artist, director, producer, and co-founder, together with William Hanna, of Hanna-Barbera
    Timothy D. Bellavia (born 1971) children’s illustrator, author and founder of We Are All The Same Inside – Sage doll-making workshop
    Ivan Brunetti (born 1967) cartoonist and comics-author
    John Buscema (1927–2002) comic-book artist and one of the mainstays of Marvel Comics during its 1960s and 1970s ascendancy into an industry leader and its subsequent expansion to a major pop culture conglomerate
    Greg Capullo (born 1962) comic book artist
    Anthony Flamini (born 1978) comic book writer
    Frank Frazetta (born 1928) one of the world’s most influential fantasy and science fiction artists
    Bill Gallo (born 1922) famed cartoonist and newspaperman
    Dick Giordano (born 1932) comic book artist and editor
    Frank Giacoia (1925–1989) comic book artist
    Carmine Infantino (born 1925) comic book artist and editor who was a major force in the Silver Age of Comic Books
    Walter Lantz (1900–1994) cartoonist and animator, known for founding the Walter Lantz Studio and creating Woody Woodpecker
    Bob Montana (1920–1975) comic strip artist who created the characters that launched Archie Comics
    Joe Orlando (1927–1998) illustrator, writer, editor and cartoonist
    Jimmy Palmiotti – writer and artist of various comics, games and film
    Leo Politi (1908–1996) artist and author who wrote and illustrated some 20 children’s books
    John Romita, Sr. (born 1930) comic book artist known for his work on Marvel Comics’ The Amazing Spider-Man
    Don Rosa (born 1951) comic book artist for Disney Comics.
    Eric Stefani (born 1967) pop musician, former Simpsons animator, and Grammy-nominated composer and writer
    Jim Valentino (born 1952) writer, penciler and editor of comic books

    Ettore DeGrazia
    Robert De Niro, Sr. (1922–1993) abstract expressionist, father of actor Robert De Niro, Jr.
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    Peter F. Secchia – former chairman and CEO of Universal Forest Products

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    Pat Croce (1954 – ) entrepreneur, once owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team
    Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. (1946 – ) billionaire, former owner of the five-time Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers
    Fred De Luca – founder of Subway Sandwich
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    Jay Sarno (1922 – 1984) Las Vegas business entrepreneur who owned several high-profile hotels

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    Amadeo Giannini (1870 – 1949) founder in 1904 of Bank of Italy, which later became Bank of America, the largest bank in the United States
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    Louis Rossetto (1949 – ) founder and former publisher of Wired Magazine

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    Ann Nocenti is a journalist, writer and editor known for her work on comic books and magazines.
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    Geraldine Ferraro, (born August 26, 1935), the first woman in U.S. history to be nominated for the Vice-Presidency of the United States from a major political party
    Ella T. Grasso (1919–1981), born Ella Rose Tambussi Grasso, first woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state without succeeding her husband
    Giuseppina Morlacchi (1846–1886), ballerina and dancer, who introduced the can-can to the American stage
    Nancy Pelosi, the first woman in U.S. history to hold the office of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
    Dennis Tito, the world’s first space tourist

  • You mentioned Bart Giamatti, but none of the countless Italian-American baseball players?

    Nice to see Anthony Cumia on your list, though. Love that increasingly paranoid but still hilarious dude.

  • Find one’s own path in life is exceedingly important. This is from Jung.

  • Looks delicious but probably not enough to cancel my Thursday reservation at Rao and go to this place instead.

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