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Buddy Valastro Says He Was Surprised That Diners Sought Buddy V's for Its Food

Buddy V's Ristorante gets pumped up to celebrate its first anniversary.

“Cake Boss” tv star Buddy Valastro stands in his signature pose, arms open to welcome guests to his restaurant.
Buddy Valastro
Bill Milne

Can you believe that it’s already been one year since Cake Boss star Buddy Valastro opened his first restaurant? Yes, at the end of October, Buddy V’s Ristorante swung open the doors in its space at the Palazzo in the Grand Canal Shoppes. Valastro brought an Italian restaurant with all of his family’s favorite recipes. Here, he talks about the first year of the restaurant, some of the issues the restaurant has overcome and his plans for the future.

How did Buddy V’s Ristorante come together?
The restaurant is a dream I had for a long time and I couldn’t image a better place for it than Las Vegas and the Venetian. There are so many incredible chefs here, I’m humbled to be in such good company. Buddy V’s was a labor of love for sure, but from the beginning it’s been a team effort with my family, my partners Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla and the team at the Venetian. And now we’re celebrating the one year anniversary of Buddy V’s, I can’t believe it.

What have you learned in the first year of running your first restaurant?
I’ve learned a lot since we opened the doors. Luckily, there are similarities in running a bakery and running a restaurant, but I’ve come to find there are a lot of differences, too.

What were you thinking about in terms of design of the restaurant?
I wanted Buddy V’s to feel like home. These are family recipes we’re cooking, food I used to eat at my Nonna’s house, so I wanted to bring that comfortable, family feeling into the design of the restaurant.

What was the menu testing process like?
That was a lot of fun. There were so many great dishes I wanted to include, but we had to narrow them down. So one night I had my wife, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins all cook what they thought should be on the menu and we just spent hours eating and tasting and talking about which dishes were gonna make the cut and that’s how we did it.

Has Vegas embraced the restaurant?
Definitely! I’m so grateful for the warm welcome we received from the city of Las Vegas. This is such a great culinary town, there’s so much delicious food here. I’m just happy everyone is enjoying what we’re making.

Six months in, what changed?
You know, we had some wrinkles to iron out, both in the kitchen and front of house, but that’s expected. We wanted to see how the guests liked everything and made tweaks here and there to improve the overall experience.

What’s the most unexpected thing that happened in the first year?
The thing I didn’t expect, or rather I guess it more surprised me, is that we would be sought out and recognized for our food — not just fans coming to be a part of the experience or people coming to get a great Italian meal, but people finding us because we had the best lasagna or that they heard the bar had the best happy hour.

How about the craziest thing?
The craziest thing that I don’t think I will ever get used to is how people freak out when I walk in. It’s crazy to me because it’s just me! I walk in and normally hear a scream and think something’s wrong and then realize they are screaming for me. It’s definitely crazy…in a good way!

What's the must order dish of the moment?
The veal bone-in parm chop. This dish is like forgetaboutit!

What's on tap for the future?
I’ve always got something bigger and better on my mind! Stay tuned…

With the insane lines at Carlo’s Bakery, can we expect to see a second open in Las Vegas?
You know, we’ll see happens. Right now I’m thrilled everybody is enjoying the bakery. It’s the first Carlo’s outside of the East Coast, so being a very hands-on person, it was very different to open a bakery that I couldn’t just drive to if I wanted.

Does Carlo’s help feed business into Buddy V’s?
I like to think of that part of the Grand Canal Shoppes as a little slice of Hoboken with Buddy V’s and the bakery right across from each other. I think they support each other in terms of bringing in business. Someone might be there just for the bakery, but they get there and see the restaurant across the hall and decide to have some lunch and vice versa you know.