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B & B Ristorante


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I did end up going to B & B Ristorante at the Venetian when I went to Las Vegas last weekend. Walking around the Grand Canals, I saw that Enoteca San Marco (Mario's other restaurant there) appeared to be in business. I don't know if it's a soft opening or what; I hadn't heard that it has opened yet. B & B Ristorante is a bit hard to find, as it's not on any map we found, but armed with information from a job listing that it was "at the end of Restaurant Row, across from Delmonico's," we found it. It's a relatively small restaurant, up against the Blue Man Theater.

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B & B is meant to be the Las Vegas version of Babbo. The menu is nearly identical, though perhaps with less offal. We arrived armed with expectations and a good idea of the menu. To my surprise my mother had even done some research and had strong opinions on what should be ordered, based on what has been said about the dishes at Babbo.

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As we sat down and were handed menus, we got the first antipasto for the table, some chickpea bruschetta. It tasted like chickpeas and olive oil, and not much else - which wasn't a bad thing. Our plan was to each order an antipasto and distribute pieces around the table so we could all enjoy each. My mother and brother didn't feel like they could handle three full courses plus dessert, so my brother ordered a pasta and my mother ordered a main dish, while I ordered both.

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We shared three antipasti: the grilled octopus, the lamb's tongue salad, and the calamari and seppie fritti. I only got a picture of the octopus, but all were good. The octopus was ridiculously well-prepared. The meat was perfectly tender, the outside was well-charred and lent a succulent but bitter flavor, and the vinegar sauce perfectly counterbalanced the bitterness of the char.

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I only had a small taste of my mother's lamb tongue. In the dim light it was difficult to distinguish the mushrooms from the slices of tongue, and the flavors were similar - but the tongue didn't have the springy texture of the mushrooms. My brother's calamari fritti was very nice. It was a light tempura-like batter, and there was a sauce with capers and perhaps lemon.

For the pasta course, I ordered the beef cheek ravioli with back truffles and crushed squab liver; my brother ordered the goat cheese tortelloni with dried orange and wild fennel pollen. Both were excellent. The beef cheek ravioli was rich and meaty. The meat inside the ravioli was ground to the same texture as coffee grounds, and the liver-truffle sauce on top was wonderful.

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The goat cheese tortelloni were incredibly good. The goat cheese stood out in a bright citrusy sauce, with the strong hits of orange and fennel. It was so good I caught myself daydreaming about it one day before lunch.

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My mother ordered the whole grilled branzino (sea bass). It was presented whole and fileted tableside.

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There was a flub as they were fileting, however: their working area to filet the fish was the edge of a table in the center of the room that held olive oil, cheese, and so forth.

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While the fish was being fileted on the very edge of the table, something became unbalanced and the plate began to fall off the table. The server caught the plate in time, but the fish continued on to meet the floor. They quickly apologized, and had another fish out in a couple minutes. This time another person fileted it, and did so without incident.

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The fish was split between my mother and my brother, and served with an intense lemon relish of some kind.

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I couldn't resist ordering the sweetbreads. I'd never had them before, and was curious, and of course had heard that this preparation was great. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. I had just finished my rich beef cheek ravioli, and the fried taste of the sweetbreads just wasn't what I needed then. The texture wasn't exactly fluffy like I've heard them described - it was like phlegmy chicken nuggets. My family declined to taste one. The duck bacon wasn't much like bacon in taste or texture. It was more like dried meat. The "sweet and sour" sauce over the top layer (the membrillo vinegar maybe? It had the consistency of thinned puree) overpowered any other flavors.

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Next came the dessert menus. I have heard that the crostata is something to go for, but the crostata available at that time was a blueberry crostata, and I'm not a big fan of blueberries. So I had the panna cotta, flavored with honey and star anise, and served with tiny biscotti. My brother had the same.

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My mother asked about the one item we couldn't interpret on the menu, a "tortina di ricotta e robiola [something]," which had us smacking our foreheads when told it was a cheesecake. :smile: It was topped with some sort of fruit - cherries and some type of berry, which were hard to identify because they were marinated in some type of alcohol - and it was quite a strong cheesecake. You could really taste the underlying robiola cheese in it.

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All in all, it was a very enjoyable dining experience. Oh, as far as copying Babbo, the music came along too. We got to enjoy CCR for the first 45 minutes, then it went on to an artist I recognized, but couldn't think of his name (I've probably heard him in the past on British radio).

-- There are infinite variations on food restrictions. --

Crooked Kitchen - my food blog

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  • 2 months later...

Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbila reviewed B & B Ristorante at the Venetian in Las Vegas: With his B & B Ristorante, Mario Batali shows Vegas how it's done

Suddenly, the Venetian actually feels like Italy. B & B is grand but not fussy, with Italian whites to dream over.

In a city where ersatz is celebrated, in a hotel and casino where gondoliers float revelers down "canals" filled with chlorine-puffing water, Batali and Bastianich have installed a restaurant that exudes Italian soul. That's something worth celebrating. And worth a detour.

Bottom line, she gave the restaurant a three-star rating. That's impressive. Well, she was impressed with the sommeliers there. They know their stuff.

With so many other restaurants in Las Vegas that I haven't tried yet, I'm wondering whether I should "bump" B & B to the top of the list??

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbila reviewed B & B Ristorante at the Venetian in Las Vegas: With his B & B Ristorante, Mario Batali shows Vegas how it's done

Suddenly, the Venetian actually feels like Italy. B & B is grand but not fussy, with Italian whites to dream over.

In a city where ersatz is celebrated, in a hotel and casino where gondoliers float revelers down "canals" filled with chlorine-puffing water, Batali and Bastianich have installed a restaurant that exudes Italian soul. That's something worth celebrating. And worth a detour.

Bottom line, she gave the restaurant a three-star rating. That's impressive. Well, she was impressed with the sommeliers there. They know their stuff.

With so many other restaurants in Las Vegas that I haven't tried yet, I'm wondering whether I should "bump" B & B to the top of the list??

I'd put them on your list, what a gorgeous restaurant and equally pretty food! The reviews I've seen of B&B have been all positive.

What other restaurants in Vegas are on your "to do" list? I know I can benefit from your experience in fine dining, which is certainly greater than mine. Also, do you have a favorite steakhouse in Vegas? My party and I usually do one steak place and one other fine dining restaurant in Vegas. We've done Prime and Delmonico and we tend to try new places each time, I'm leaning towards Stripsteak.

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