Buddy Valastro, aka “Cake Boss” Buddy V, is in town this week overseeing the soft opening of new restaurant, PizzaCake in Harrah’s. The shop, which has entrances from both the casino floor and the Strip, offers sweet and savory dishes that revolve around the theme of pizza.
“My father-in-law owned a pizzeria for 30 years, and I really wanted to come up with the perfect New York/New Jersey style pizza and bring it to Las Vegas,” Valastro says of his inspiration for the restaurant.
Valastro’s father-in-law, Mauro Belgiovine, relocated to Las Vegas to oversee the operation. And the celebrity baker says he brings a vital component to a diverse leadership team.
“That’s what the uniqueness is of what we’ve got going on here,” he explains. “You’ve got me, who’s got a ton of baking knowledge — whether it be cakes or breads or different doughs. And I’ve been doing it for years, so I really understand dough and stuff like that. You’ve got my father-in-law who’s been a pizzaiolo for 30 years, who owned a classic New Jersey-style pizzeria. Then you have our chef Bryan Forgione, who’s my executive chef at Buddy V’s. So you’re hitting it from three angles.”
While the official grand opening is set for March 7, PizzaCake quietly “soft opened” last Wednesday, without all of its features up and running. The walk-up cake vending machine and slice window on Las Vegas Boulevard, for example, won’t be operating for about two weeks. But the restaurant is serving its New Jersey-style round, Sicilian rectangular and layered “pizza cakes” by the slice.
The sweet side of the operation is also up and running. Valastro and his team offer what he calls “over-the-top cookie pizzas” made with cookie dough and assorted toppings. Among the varieties available now are s’mores, peanut butter cup and Fruity Pebbles. But Valastro’s favorite appears to be a spin on the pane e Nutella he ate for lunch as a kid.
“I’m actually taking that same Sicilian (dough), and I’m cutting it in half. And I’m slathering it with Nutella, bananas and strawberries, slathering the top with Nutella, putting some little crumbled caramel popcorn and warming it up. I tell you it’s to die for.”