Navigating the menu at B&B Ristorante [Vegas]
My dad and I are hitting up B&B this Saturday in Vegas. It has a pretty formidable menu. Anything that is just revelatorily good, or that we must try? We were really looking hard at the tasting menus- either the regional or pasta.
The first part of this answer will be the usual cop-out, but it really does come down to personal tastes and preferences, because of the diversity of the offerings. Having dispensed of the disclaimer, here is what we have been impressed with lately - the longer they have been open in Las Vegas, the more they have been willing to go away from being just a sister of Babbo, and into developing some of their own identity. The Batali influences are absolutely in play, but some regional sourcing (west coast, with the Santa Monica Farmers Market a prime player) is now creating menu items that are specific to this property. Hence, a lot of changes as different ingredients become available.
Since we are in the heart of spring, the current offerings reflect a lot of this - appetizers like Fava Lonza with Pecorino; Garlic Sformato (think something halfway between a custard and a souffle) with Peas and Prosciutto; Field Greens with Trebbiano Vinagrette; and a spring Vegetable Frito Misto. Some "fresh" pastas on the menu are Cavatelli with Flowering Greens and Smoked Ricotta (one of my favorite dishes of 2009 so far); Stracchino Ravioli with Spring Bulbs; and Stinging Nettle Taglitatelle with Spring Lamb. And some "fresh" current sides are Dandelion Greens with Garlic and Chili, and Scafata di Primavera (a spring vegetable stew). While much of the rest of the menu can be found at Babbo, these are primarily B&B creations, and it shows a lot of focus on what is fresh right now. Which also means that many of these dishes will be gone in a few weeks, but hopefully they will be replaced with the same seasonal focus. And also note that many of the main dishes are traditional proteins that stay on the menu year-round, but are currently paired differently (Rabbit Porchetta with "Carrot Pappa"; King River Salmon with "Favetta"; Beff Tagliata with "Young Lettuces and Spring Onion Marmalade", etc.).
But as always it comes down to personal taste. We like to lean towards whatever is freshest at the time, particularly when there are combinations we have not had before, and especially with a culinary team that we can trust. The kitchen still has a heavy hand when it comes to salt, so be forewarned.
Thanks a lot. I understand it really IS a loaded question- I appreciate the great answer. I will do that and report back.
Any input on the "seasonality" of the tasting menus? We were looking to try a wider variety of things, but if we would be better served by sticking with the more seasonal specials. that is fine.
The tasting menu's are particularly well-designed for how the courses play off of each other, and that is not a bad way to go when trying B&B. They also bring some heartier and richer flavors than some of the spring items mentioned in the earlier post. I believe the regional tasting is "Lazio" right now, which will mean a Roman influence, and a couple of items on the latest pasta tasting menu also seem to reflect the season (like the Cavatelli with Rabbit Ragu and Favas). If it is a first trip, those menu's provide a nice way to work through their flavor spectrums.
I went to B&B last weekend and was not really impressed. I had the lobster spaghetti and not only was it way over-salted the waiter REFUSED to give me parm cheese. I know, I know Italians don't put cheese on seafood, but they should have still honored the customers request. My friend's dishes were also too salty - I think one had pasta with tuna and the other something with sausage. On the same trip we went to Rao's and it was far better than B&B and also less expensive also.