As I have stated numerous times before, we prefer dining in the casual part of Valentino, mainly because we have an opportunity to chat with Piero. The food is sensational and you are not dining from a casual/bar food menu but rather exquisitely prepared food from Valentino’s menu that just happens to be served in a casual environment. Per usual, we leave all decisions regarding wine to Piero and Paul Sherman and all food choices to Chef Nico and Chef Fabio. Our only responsibility is to enjoy and savor each and every choice.
Champagne to start from their list
Calamari Salad, lemon dressing, beet sauce, celery, carrots – calamari can be a disaster if not executed properly – these were perfect.
Australian Crab Cake, Orange Soup, Drops of Olive Oil, Fried Sage – the crab was delicious and the orange soup was a revelation. Chef Nico explained that it was just oranges ground in the blender and then strained – no cream, no bindings – just orange! This is an idea I intend to steal – it would make a tremendous sauce and as a cool soup it was spectacular.
White wine from Valentino’s list – this is the one place we never BYO – there is no need to as Valentino has one of the best wine cellars in the city.
Breast of Quail wrapped with Speck and stuffed with Raschera cheese on a bed of lentils with small dice of carrots, braised fennel on the side. Another A+ dish – the combination of the quail, the speck and the Raschera was a perfect marriage of ingredients.
“Raschera is a semi-hard pressed cheese from the Piemonte region. Raschera is a table cheese made from raw cow’s milk, but some sheep or goat’s milk is sometimes added. Aged anywhere from one to six months, Raschera is ivory in color, rich in mouth feel, with a buttery and mild taste that gets sharper with age.”
Red Wine from Valentino’s list
Chef Fabio called this “My Italian Flag Pasta.” It was composed of 3 different pastas — the white was gnocchi, the green was spinach pappardelle and the red was beet pasta. The saucing was a lobster ragu topped with slivers of ricotta salata cheese – this pasta is made in house – perfectly made and perfectly cooked. My question is why go anywhere else for the best pasta in the city?
Spinach semolina dough, porcini tortellini (tortellini pasta filled with porcini mushrooms), foie gras, tomato confit, summer black truffles – another winning pasta dish
La Quercia Organic Pancetta, Amatriciani with sausage pearls and an array of fresh farmer’s market vegetables – corn, carrots, spring onions, sweet peas, green onions. The sausage pearls had been sauteed in their own fat. Again each element of the dish complemented the whole making for a stunning array of taste and texture.
Amatriciani is a traditional Italian pasta sauce based on guanciale (dried pork cheek), pecorino cheese and tomato. Originating from the town of Amatrice (in the mountainous Province of Rieti of Lazio region), the Amatriciana is one of the most well-known pasta sauces in Italian cuisine.
Cheese course served with spoons of honey and pear salsa and a dried salad of apricot, salami, walnuts and fresh pear
There is only one word to describe this meal – perfect.