Piero Selvaggio is one of the best restaurateurs in the country. His passion, his joie de vivre, his hospitality and his generosity is unrivaled. This is not a restaurateur missing in action; Piero is always there and is always making sure that his flagship restaurant delivers.
Lately, we have been trying out the Vin Bar, the informal space at Valentino. But even though we were sitting in the casual part of the restaurant, Piero insisted that we meet chef de cuisine, Giacomo Pettinari and that we just let Chef Giacomo cook. Not only did Chef Giacomo cook, but he also came out of the kitchen to describe each dish like a proud papa.
Cute guy plus super chef
For more on the chef see here:
Grapefruit, Marinated Scallops, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil Oil, Caviar – excellent balance of flavors, light and seasonal
Sicilian couscous with tiny dice of tomatoes, carrots, zucchini with a touch of cayenne for heat. On top was tuna tartar marinated with pine nuts, oven-dried cherry tomatoes and olive oil. A parmesan cheese stick lay across the top. Chef Giacomo explained that couscous and tuna is a typical Sicilian combination. This was definitely not your standard tuna tartar – innovative, plus delicious.
This is a dish that the chef, Giacomo Pettinari learned from his mother – Seppia Cuttlefish Soup with green beans – definitely comfort food with great depth of flavor.
Hand-made Strozzapreti with tomato sauce, a base of riccota sauce and strips of fried pancetta. Giacomo explained that this is also called “priest chokers.” He said it is called this because centuries ago, it was common practice to let priests eat for free in restaurants. Wishing to get rid of the “freeloaders”, chefs rolled the pasta in such a way with the hope that the pasta would get lodged in the priest’s throat and choke. Well, I obviously didn’t choke – the pasta was cooked to perfection and wasn’t drowned out by the sauce. Excellent
Pappardelle pasta with chestnut ragu, beef shortribs and cumin. I questioned Giacomo about the use of chestnuts and he mentioned that he had frozen them when they were fresh. This was exceedingly rich, but again perfectly executed.
Angus Beef with Chanterelles and Red Wine Reduction- I tend to prefer fish and/or game to beef as a personal preference so I only took a couple of bites of this. John ate all of his and had my portion as leftovers the next day.
Sheep’s milk cheese from Piedmont
Cow’s milk cheese from Toscano
We never BYO wine at Valentino. Valentino’s wine list is legendary and it would be an insult to Piero to bring wine. We have known Paul Sherman, Valentino’s sommelier for years (he used to work with Ken Frank) and we left it up to him to chose the wine.
Wines in the order they were served:
Vin Bar and Valentino is one of the nicest dining experiences in Los Angeles.