Buddy Valastro's first restaurant lands in Las Vegas.
Cake Boss Buddy Valastro on Buddy V's Vegas and More
By Lesley Balla
October 11, 2013
Photo by: Lesley Balla
The road to Las Vegas wasn’t an obvious one for Buddy Valastro, but it was pretty direct. After filming Cake Boss at the Venetian one season, he met resort owner Sheldon Adelson, who, it turns out, has a similar background to Valastro: both worked their way up from rags to riches, Adelson from newspaper delivery boy to Vegas mogul; Valastro, who started working at his father’s bakery as a kid, is now a reality TV superstar. The stars aligned for the two and a deal was struck for Buddy V’s, now open at the Palazzo.
Valastro already was thinking of a restaurant at that point, joining forces with Elizabeth Blau, a well-known Las Vegas restaurant consultant and owner, and her husband, chef Kim Canteenwalla. “We looked at spaces in New Jersey and New York but couldn’t find the right place,” says Valastro. “I told Mr. Adelson that my dream was to have a restaurant in Las Vegas, and he said he wanted it at the Venetian.” Boom. Buddy V’s was born.
The food here is mom-and-pop Italian-American: Sunday gravy. Meatballs. Eggplant parm. But him being the "Cake Boss," there’s no way it could be a small family spot. In fact, it’s huge - 300 seats or so, a big bar and dining room, open kitchens and views of the Las Vegas strip from the wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Photos of Valastro and his family line the walls; in the private room, drawings from his kids are now public art. Rolling pins dangle from the ceiling, and giant whisks became light fixtures. Not to mention the giant bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and kitchen counter - all made out of cake and fondant - behind glass when you walk in. “We wanted to acknowledge that I’m the Cake Boss, that I’m a baker, but didn’t want to scream it,” he says. “The photos just make everyone feel like family.”
There are definitely sweets on the menu, from the “lobster tail,” a flaky pastry filled with cream, to tiramisu-inspired cocktails at the bar. Most of the savory dishes were all inspired by Valastro’s family recipes and finessed by Canteenwalla. “We had a two-day powwow, like a cook-off with my family and a team of chefs. All of my aunts, my grandma, my mother-in-law,” Valastro says. “My wife made two kinds of eggplant, an eggplant parm, which is my favorite, and roasted eggplant. Kim turned that into Eggplant Done Two Ways for the menu. It’s amazing. It’s the essence of what we do with his own flair on it.” Imagine the ramifications if someone’s meatballs were left out; thankfully at least one dish from every family member made the cut.
When Valastro is at the restaurant (the entire family came out for the opening), you know it by the lines of people out front waiting to meet him, take photos or just shake his hand. But with Cake Boss on its seventh season, plus the Next Great Baker, Bakery Boss and Kitchen Boss, the man is extremely popular. The dream of taking Buddy V's to other cities isn't off the table, either. They fully expect to open more around the country.
“We just want you to feel like you’re in grandma’s basement here,” Valastro says. Take a look at the dessert menu and you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about - there’s a picture of one of his family gatherings at his grandmother’s house next to the description of "carnival-style zeppole." See that and more below.
Window seats have views of the Strip.
Whisks as light fixtures = awesome.
From the bar into the massive dining room. Love the rolling pins!
On top of spaghett-eee...made of cake and fondant...
Just like grandma's basement: Valastro's family photos are used as art on the walls and on the menus.
A view of the kitchen.
More homey artifacts for decor.
A negroni, Buddy V-style.