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As We See It

2-minute interview: Mario Batali

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Mario Batali kicked off the Venetian/Palazzo summer celebration Carnevale with a tasting from each of his Las Vegas restaurants at Palazzo on June 1.
Courtesy Venetian/Palazzo

Saturday, June 1, 2013 | 1:53 p.m. | Palazzo's waterfall atrium

You just announced your fourth restaurant in Las Vegas, B&B Burger and Beer. What's the plan? This will be a simple, casual place where you don't need to speak Italian or would even want to speak Italian. The food will be pubby and burger-based, but still celebrating the Italian idea of food with delicious vegetables and salads and great meat.

Samples of Batali's burgers-to-be were enjoyed at the Carnevale kick-off party at Palazzo on June 1.

Has anyone asked "Mario Batali? What does he know about burgers?" Nobody has told me that yet.

I guess that makes me the first. I don't know anything about burgers other than I've been making burgers my whole life and I know when they're delicious, that's all. I don't think anyone will doubt we can bring a very interesting taste of beef to the burger situation given our success with Carnevino [Italian steakhouse at Palazzo]. That's where we're going with this. You've got all that trim from all those magnificent steaks that have that rich, complicated beef flavor. If we can use that and put it into our world, our beef will be different.

Do you find Las Vegas to be restrictive in terms of devising restaurant concepts you'd like to execute here? Is Vegas not ready for some things? No. I think Las Vegas is one of the most sophisticated markets in the country. Maybe New York and LA pretend to be more sophisticated, but when you look at the international and local and American clientele that's here on daily basis, you just can't match it. This is such a hot spot. We are bullish on Las Vegas right now. It had a couple down years a while back but it's back now and probably stronger than ever, and everyone is looking to move here and expand and we're proud to be part of the machine.

You're stepping into quite the burger war. In a market like this, the rising tide brings all ships to a higher level. I don't think anyone has anything to be afraid of, for a bunch of new people coming into town and raising the bar for burgers. It's just a question of who can do it best and most consistently and deliver that product to the customer on time.

What else do you have up your sleeve that will distinguish this restaurant from the pack? We're going to have crazy, cool craft beers, some even brewed especially for us, but we're also going to offer an affordable flight of wines, something at around $10 for two or three wines to taste with your burger. I think that's going to change the story.

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Tags: Dining
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Brock Radke is Las Vegas Weekly's food editor and author of the Strip-focused column The Incidental Tourist. He has written ...

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