Wearing his non-conformist fleece sweater vest (his variation of a chef coat) baggy shorts, donning his orange Crocs and color coordinated ponytail, Mario Batali would most likely not meet the dress code requirements for some of his own Las Vegas restaurants. Attire aside, Chef Batali knows Italian cuisine better than anyone. Okay, maybe we include Chef Ettore Boiardi, to avoid offending the other Italian master.
In addition to Batali's world-wide portfolio of restaurants, he and his business partner Joe Bastianich have set up shop at The Venetian, Las Vegas with not just one, not just two, but yes four eateries to cover the wide spectrum of Italian cuisine: Carnevino, B&B Ristorante, Otto Enoteca Pizzeria and B&B Burger and Beer. If that's not enough, The Venetian also has restaurants by those up and coming lesser know chefs: Keller, Lagasse and Puck.
This month, the B&B Group (that's Batali and Bastianich if you're following along) brought me in for several days of food photography, for their spring menu offerings and to capture some restaurant architectural photography of their various private group dining rooms. If you've ever visited any of Batali's restaurants in Las Vegas, you know the size, caliber and aesthetic details in the architecture and design - they're gorgeous. Perhaps my favorite of the Batali restaurants to photograph in was B&B Ristorante. Located on restaurant row in The Venetian, B&B Ristorante doesn't scream at you when you walk by. In fact, its low-key entrance, mosaic artisan tile floor, quaint multi-room dining and limited seat bar are consistent with what you'd find while visiting a small village in Tuscany. If you didn't know what B&B stood for, you'd think you just happened upon the best little Italian restaurant in the world.
One of the first things I look for when photographing food in Las Vegas are surfaces. Unique surfaces, especially wood & natural stone, always provide a way to frame the food item and subtly capture an element of the room - B&B Ristorante offered just that with it's rich wood surfaces, table runners, natural stone bar top and linen covered tables.