It seems that everyone is coming to San Antonio these days, including celebrity chef Buddy “Cake Boss” Valastro. His new Buddy V’s Ristorante has quickly become a hot dining spot in the Alamo City thanks to the Cake Boss’ knowledge of much more than cake.
The fantastic menu at Buddy V’s proves that the Cake Boss knows just as much about pasta, pizza and savory Italian as he does about sweet treats. Located at The Shops at La Cantera, Buddy V’s offers a taste of Buddy’s family gatherings and beloved heirloom recipes. Offering unique twists on classic Italian-American cuisine, the menu also stays true to Buddy’s baking roots with timeless sweets, like his world-famous cannoli. But don’t just rush to dessert—the rest of the menu is definitely worth your time.
If you’re ready to jump into Buddy V’s, keep a few things in mind. First, whether you go for lunch, happy hour or dinner, be sure to bring your appetite. You will definitely not leave hungry. Portions, even the lunch options, are very generous. Second, no matter how hungry you are, try everything because it’s all good.
And, yes, the restaurant has great bar space and a terrific happy hour, featuring drink specials and small bites. Before happy hour kicks in, you can enjoy a sunset menu that offers wonderful options from 3pm to 5pm, including two of my favorites, “Grilled Cheesy Garlic Bread” and a Caprese salad that is fresh, different and fantastic.
While Buddy’s name is at the top—and all over the menu—the flavor options at Buddy V’s are truly a family affair. The menu features heirloom recipes that have been passed down in Buddy’s family, so enjoying a meal at Buddy V’s give you a taste of his family gatherings. And as you ponder options including Buddy’s Favorite Pizza or Buddy’s Caprese (the wonderful salad I mentioned above), you’ll also find “My Wife’s Eggplant Parm” and “Grandma’s Meatballs” among the appetizers, while the dinner menu includes “My Mother-In-Law’s Shrimp Scampi.”
The pasta options include many Italian standards, like spaghetti pomodoro, spaghetti Bolognese, fettucine Alfredo, cheese Alfredo and of course, Nona’s Lasagna. And if you’re in the mood for pizza, you’ll find classics like Margherita and pepperoni alongside flavors that Buddy crafted, like spinach and artichoke. I loved the latter so much that I had to know more: it was inspired by the classic spinach and artichoke dip that you can always find on the table at family gatherings. Buddy wanted a fun new approach to this classic, so the pizza features a fontina cheese sauce as the base, topped with spinach sautéed in garlic, roasted mushrooms and artichoke hearts finished with Parmesan cheese.
The dinner menu expands to include a full array of seafood, chicken, veal and beef options, with grilled salmon, garlic shrimp, chicken piccata and steak pizzaiolo among the flavors to enjoy. There’s also veal Parmigiano and veal Marsala, two Italian classics that are definitely at home with the other heirloom recipes the restaurant features.
You won’t find anything new or experimental at Buddy V’s. And that’s what makes it so wonderful. The dishes are classic Italian, made from true family recipes, and the staff makes you feel like one of the family. The staff knows the menu well, talking you through the options and sharing stories about the dishes and the recipes. I was impressed by how quickly they offered to customize dishes to accommodate dining concerns, so if you’re vegetarian or follow other diet restrictions, don’t be afraid to ask for changes. (The Chicken Rigatoni, minus the chicken and the pancetta, was still terrific.)
The restaurant has fun décor, such as a light fixture that features large whisks and glass bottles, as well as walls filled with bundt pans and room dividers made from rolling pins. The family photos that are sprinkled throughout the restaurant give you a glimpse into the family behind the flavors—but my favorite family photos are included in the dessert menu, where you’ll see a photo paired with each sweet option.
And yes, save room for dessert. This is the Cake Boss, after all. Of course Buddy created some special cakes for San Antonio, including a replica of the Alamo (pictured above). Surrounded by treats including a cowboy boot cake, it gives some local flavor to the restaurant, only the third location for Buddy V’s. The cannoli is as fabulous as you’d expect—get it to go if you think you’re just too full to enjoy one more bite. Buddy’s Lobster Tail is a fun pastry featuring fresh fruit and custard crème and the Cookies and Cream Cake leaves no doubt as to how Buddy earned the title of Cake Boss. Mangia!
Cover: Buddy’s Alamo cake. Photo by Dawn Robinette
Dawn Robinette is an award-winning writer and communications expert based in San Antonio who enjoys finding new discoveries, revisiting old favorites and telling stories. She regularly writes for San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine. You can read more of her work at Alamo City Moms Blog.