I dined twice this week at the new B + B Ristorante in the Venetian, and it was fabulous, perhaps even better than Babbo! I was surprised that a newly opened restaurant was running so smoothly, but all was perfection.
The dining room is surprisingly small with only about 80 seats and dimly lit with masculine dark woods, very similar to Del Posto but with seating far more compact. There is also the fun rock or reggae that Mr. Batali chooses to play at all of his restaurants, but it is not overwhelming.
On Sunday we split several entrees to allow us to try more items. For Antipasti, we had Armandino's Salumi, which I belive was coppa, sopressata and finocchiona with sauteed ramps. Armandino is Mario Batali's father who quit his job at Boeing to apprentice at the famous Tuscan butcher, Dario Cecchino of Panzano Italy, and now runs a salumeria (Salumi) in Seattle to sell his excellent wares.
For Primi, we split two pastas, starting with Linguini con Vongole, with clams, onions, pancetta and lots of spicy chilies. I had not had this dish before at Babbo as I thought it would be boring in comparison to the other rich selections, but it was very, very good. The heat of the chilies combined with the fresh brininess from the clams and salty crunch from the pancetta was delectable. For the second pasta, we split the Pappardelle Bolognese. The fresh pasta was thinner than I was used to at Babbo, but was much better for it, as it melted in the mouth with the ragu rather than being chewy. This was the best true Bolognese pasta and ragu I have had outside of Bologna, ever.
For Secondi, we split the Scottadita and had roasted potatoes for Contorni. The lamb arrived too rare, but was whisked off and returned within seemingly mere seconds the proper temperature. The chops were delicious, with hardly any fat and the juicy grilled lamb flavored perfectly. The potatoes were roasted with rosemary, sea salt and whole unpeeled garlic to a golden brown and were an excellent accompaniment to the lamb.
For Dessert, we ordered the chocolate mousse with zabaione which was light and satisfyingly chocolatey. The chef or Mgmt also sent a complimentary Ricotta/Goat Cheese tart with berries that was also very good. There were also a tray of small cookies offered before the check, a nice touch.
We returned on Monday and enjoyed the exact same meal with only a few changes (we each ordered our OWN Linguini and Scottadita, they were that good - we did not want to share!). Our experience was absolutely consistent with the prior evening and we had another outstanding dinner.
Service was professional and unobtrusive with waiters both enthusiastic and eager to please. But I was most impressed by the Manager, Ricky Laine, who covered the dining room omnisciently catering to every guests concern and making sure all was well, and he is also quite easy on the eyes, I might add.
I also dined at Enoteca San Marco (Las Vegas Otto) twice and found the food and experience to be uneven and quite unpolished, but they only opened a couple of days prior and it would not be fair to comment until they have their kinks worked out. Which makes the experience at B + B so much more surprising, that after only a few weeks, that restaurant was run as smooth as an operation that has been open for years. I cannot wait to return...until I do, Babbo will have to suffice.