I sound like a broken record, but this is just the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Nico devised our menu and Piero and Paul Sherman selected the wines. A glass of champagne to start – not pictured. Piero mentioned that many of the dishes that Chef Nico created were “new” to him – Nico is an incredibly talented chef with a contemporary flair. His flavor combinations are just extraordinary, he is a fantastic saucier and his execution is flawless.
Marinated swordfish carpaccio, blood orange dressing, pistachio, baby tomatoes, arugula – a perfect light beginning.
Abalone, sea urchin, sea urchin dressing, pea shoots, mashed potato under the shell – Chef Nico knows my love of sea urchin and this was a fantastic combination of flavors – uni and abalone – you can’t get better than that.
This was introduced as Chef Nico’s interpretation of Matzoh Ball soup! The “ball” was actually composed of speck, pork, crab, celery, carrot and ricotta cheese. It floated in a crab bisque with pieces of crab. There are no words to describe how good this was. The bisque was so rich and deeply flavored that you knew this was not made in minutes, but carefully constructed and lovingly tended to for hours.
Wine Number 2
Cannelloni (made with white semolina flour and squid ink infused pasta) stuffed with lobster, pappa al pomodoro sauce, ricotta cheese sprinkled on top and a roasted cherry tomato on the side – not a hint of toughness from the lobster and again the saucing was flawless.
Orecchiette pasta (literally little ear’s pasta), Swiss chard, pecorino, sweet mozzarrella cheese, olive oil – Valentino has always excelled at pasta and this was no exception.
Close-up of the pasta – another winner.
Risotto saltato covering venison ragu on a sauce of ricotta cream, olive oil and parsley. Risotto saltato refers to the fact that you fry the risotto rice in a frying pan so that it becomes a golden and crispy cake. We were on a roll – each dish shone, not one overshadowed the other.
Fonduta on top of braised beef tartare, pea sauce, shaved white truffles on top – I am running out of descriptive adjectives. Enough to say that this was perfect.
Grilled pork, fines herbes, a sauce of jus, butternut squash, carrots, green beans, zucchini, baby corn, fennel – the vegetables were market fresh and the pork succulent.
Underneath the pork was a mosto (must) of raisins, figs and apricots
Cheese for dessert – not pictured,
This was a perfectly constructed tasting menu and far superior to any Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. I can’t wait to go to Vin Bar again and see what else Chef Nico has up his sleeves. His creativity and execution are limitless.