Vin Bar/Valentino is the best Italian restaurant in this city. Piero Selvaggio ranks as one of the finest restaurateurs in the country. By choice we eat at the casual Vin Bar, but whether you choose casual or the more elegant Valentino you will have an incredible meal. Chef Nico Chessa has just devised a completely new menu that is innovative and creative emphasizing the 2 regions reflecting Piero’s and Nico’s origins, Sicily and Sardinia.
The idea behind this meal was for us to taste as many of the new dishes from the brand-new menu. Superb is an understatement. All comments that Valentino is over the hill are absurd. This was as creative and innovative a menu as any Italian restaurant anywhere in the country. Let me add as we were trying so many dishes we were served “family style” so we could split the dishes at the table.
Piero and Chef Nico
We never BYO at Valentino given Piero’s exceptional wine list plus his extraordinary ability to pair just the right wine with the food. We did start with some champagne not pictured.
1. Cannnoli di Tonno : Savory cannoli filled with tuna mousse – almost like a tuna tartare – the tuna was extraordinary and the cannoli a perfect “wrapping” 2. Arancine di mare: seafood rice balls – a one bite wonder 3. Cazzilli: Vegetarian croquette – what sets Chef Nico apart from other chefs is his deft hand with the freshest of ingredients.
1. Seppie con carciofi e bottarga “sgranata” – Cuttlefish with artichokes and cured mullet roe – bottarga – absolutely stunning – the freshest of fish handled perfectly with an extraordinary blend of ingredients 2. Cervella di vitello donate con cipolle all’ agrodolce – Veal brain fritters with sweet and sour onions – an absolute must order dish with the onions adding the perfect accompaniment.
Spaghetti aglio e olio i ricci di mare o alla bottarge di muggine – spaghetti with olive and garlic – the first in the photo was made with Sardinian bottarga and the second in the photo was made with Catalina Island sea urchin – both were incredible but Chef Nico knows my love of sea urchin and I literally “inhaled” each bite. Old-fashioned food – absolutely not!
1. Malloreddus con purpuzza e fiore Sardo – Morsel pasta with just made sausage ragu and pecorino cheese – Many Italian restaurants will tell you that they make their pasta in house – to be honest one of the few restaurants that I truly believe this claim to be true is Valentino. 2. Zuccotto di melanzane al Ragusano e pennette- Penne with eggplant, tomato basil and Ragusano cheese – both dishes were perfectly executed.
Excuse the photo as the photographer was busy eating and was lousy on the photo. Above the dish as presented with half eaten food!
Roasted veal served with
Zucchini and mushroom Tortino
Lamb stew with red wine, potatoes, olives and crown dill
Grilled young chicken with lemon sauce and baby greens
All three were fantastic showing extraordinary skill and depth of flavor.
We were quite full but Piero insisted we have a cheese course – how could I say no!
To be honest my note taking was taking a dive - as best as I can recollect – prickly pear sorbet, cannoli and panna cotta – Piero did write Bianco Mangiare Bronte.
To say that this was a fantastic meal is a huge understatement. Every single item we had is on the new menu so you don’t have to be known to have any of these items. All you have to do is go, order from the new menu and enjoy one of the finest meals you will have anywhere in this country. A must for anyone who loves great food! I am just waiting for the day when Chef Nico wins Iron Chef and Top Chef Masters. He is that good!