>> Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Last time I was in NY I missed going to Mario Batali's BABO restaurant since we couldn't make reservations for a large group (think 12 people). So when I realized that he had a restaurant in Vegas it was pretty much a given that I was going to go check it out. The only obstacle was to convince my friends. Luckily for me, after seeing the menus, they were pretty excited themselves. So right off the plane, we headed off to get ready for dinner at Batali's B&B Ristorante in the Venetian.
Atmosphere: Situated inside the glamorous Venetian hotel, the softly lit dining area brings forth comfort and coziness.
Price: Mid $10s - $40s
Food and Wine: After perusing the menu, we found it extremely hard to decide on any one item since we wanted to try everything. Initially we were going to try the Chef’s Tasting menu however with the time commitments that we had (usually requiring 3 hours or more for a tasting), it was decided that we would just choose an array of dishes to share.
We decided to follow the traditional Italian menu the way it’s meant to be enjoyed, starting with an antipasti of the Artichoke Salad with Mache and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. The artichokes were extremely flavourful and paired very well with the meyer lemon dressing. Addition of the mache with its mild lettuce flavour was a good match to the tangy salad.
Next up we moved on to the primi dishes, normally the pasta portion of the meal. We sampled the Gnocchi served with peas and proscuitto. I was surprised that the gnocchi was dense opposed to the pillowy soft gnocchi’s that I’m use to eating at an Italian restaurant. I specifically ordered this dish because it demonstrates how skilled a chef is and was a bit disappointed, especially more so since I was at the great Mario Batali’s restaurant. I was able to recollect myself and move on. The next dish we sampled was the Black Spaghetti with Sicilian Pesto. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and had a very nice spicy pesto sauce. My dinner companions found the dish to be a bit overly spiced. However, I enjoy the heat and found that I preferred this over the aforementioned gnocchi.
At this point we couldn’t wait for the secondi’s to arrive since we ordered the Rabbit Porchetta and the Crispy Polenta Sweetbreads. I’ve always wanted to try sweet breads but haven’t been able to find a place in Calgary that served it on their menus. Therefore it wasn’t a shocker that it was the one thing that I was looking forward to the whole evening and they did not disappoint. The sweetbreads came with three pieces, each perfected coated in a crispy polenta shell and served with fava beans and oyster mushrooms. When I took my first bite, the crunchy coating gave way to a delicate and soft interior that reminded me of offal, but much lighter. I can see that certain individuals might not enjoy it due to the texture, but I recommend that everyone at least try them once. They were a bit heavy though, so the dish was best shared since I couldn’t imagine eating all three sweetbreads myself.
The Rabbit Porchetta came with black trumpet mushrooms in a light primavera broth. We all found the broth a bit mild and did nothing for the rabbit itself. It also didn’t help that the meat of the rabbit was slightly over cooked resulting in a dry stringy texture. I wouldn’t recommend this dish since there are so many other choices to choose from.
Of course we couldn’t end the evening without dolci aka dessert. We ended up with two contrasting dishes, the Grappa Panna Cotta and the Dark Chocolate Torta. The panna cotta was extremely velvety and it literally melted in your mouth leaving a nice light creaminess. The brown sugar strawberries were a delight as well. Contrasting with the dark chocolate torta made both desserts stand out. The torta was soft and moist, I didn’t even need the blood orange sorbetto that it came with, but then again it wasn't much different from other dark chocolate cakes. The only thing I would change was the portions of the dolci was extremely small, we probably could have used another dessert had we known the size of each dish.
For the evening we decided on two different wines, we started with the Rosso di Montalcino Talenti 2007, which has lighter fruity notes and a medium bodied finish. It tasted of raspberries and blackberries and went well with our lighter appetizers dishes. Next we decided on the Chianti Classico Fontodi 2006, with a oaky flavour reminisce of chocolate and cigars. It too was a medium bodied wine and accompanied the dark chocolate torta very well.
My Picks: Crispy Polenta Sweetbreads, Grappa Panna Cotta
Overall: I was pretty excited to be enjoying my first dinner at the world renowned Mario Batali’s restaurant since I missed my chance in NY. Who doesn’t want to eat at Mario’s, especially after witnessing all the iron chef episodes on the Food Network? There were a few dishes that underwhelmed but the overall experience was great and I would definitely try it again, who knows, maybe next time I’ll be able to check out BABO.
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109