Archive for February, 2013

Vin Bar/Valentino

I have been raving about Valentino for years, but now I absolutely recommend Valentino as a destination restaurant as Valentino is unequivocally the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. By choice we eat at the casual Vin Bar but you can have an elegant dinner at Valentino; whether casual or elegant you will have a wonderfully orchestrated meal with superb service and cuisine. At most restaurants we BYO, never at Valentino. Piero’s wine list is extensive and extraordinary and we just let Piero choose the wine. Chef Nico has just introduced a new menu and it is off the charts superb. We just let Chef Nico choose our tasting menu and he always “blows us away.”

Vin new menu

New Chef Nico special menu – you can order Valentino classic dishes but do try the inventive and contemporary creations of Chef Nico

Vin Mumm

Champagne to start

Vin fritter

Shrimp and Zucchini Fritter on a bed of peach sauce – a one bite wonder

Vin white wine

White wine – one of the best white wines I have had at Valentino

Vin calamari

Crustacean “Spezzatino” ( stew of crab, scallops and calamari) with seaweed calamari salad and sea urchin dressing – each element was executed perfectly with both taste and texture a delight

Vin Chardonnay - front of bottle

Vin Chardonnay

2nd white wine

Vin Veggie torta

Tortino Ragusano – A Sicilian Vegetarian Dish – Zucchini, Kale, Abalone Mushrooms with a Pomodoro sauce of red and yellow tomatoes greatly reduced – no cream. This also made me want to become a vegetarian!

“Ragusano is an Italian PDO protected cheese made exclusively in provinces of Ragusa and Siracusa, Sicily. It is one of the oldest cheeses in Sicily with evidence dating as early as 1500.  Originally known by the name of Caciocavallo, it lost its historical name after it acquired the recognition of PDO. A hard cheese from the pasta filata family, Ragusano is made with whole milk from Modicana breed of cows fed on fresh grass or hay.”

Vin stuffed calamari

Calamari stuffed with whitefish and calamari heads topped with fresh tomato and oregano in a seafood broth – this is serious food from a very talented chef – the seafood broth was wondrous and the calamari cooked perfectly

Vin Red wine

Red Wine

Vin beef tongue

Crudo of Kobe Beef Tongue Carpaccio with Maui Onions and Black Truffle Emulsion, Arugula – OH MY!!!!!! A+++

Vin black truffle

Crespelle (crepes) stuffed with wild mushrooms, shaved black truffles with a saucing of truffle fondue – this dish reflects Valentino’s concept — “It is our philosophy and inspiration to use Italian cuisine as our canvas. Our palette consists of only the freshest, most natural and delicious ingredients available.”

Vin 2nd red wine

2nd Red Wine

Vin pasta pillows

Sweetbreads Agnolottti with Pear Puree, Parmigiano Spuma, Candied Roasted Walnuts, Ricotta Cream Sauce – I sound like a broken record but another winner

Vin eelk  better

Elk with Porcini Mushrooms, Roasted Walnuts and a sauce of the porcini mushrooms and parsley – the meat was fork tender and seasoned to perfection. The mushrooms were the perfect foil for the meat.

This was a spectacular meal from beginning to end with A+ everything — wine, service, cuisine – just perfect. I urge everyone to run not walk to Valentino and make it one of their regular haunts. It is more than worth it.


ROC – Sawtelle

Sawtelle Blvd is bursting with new restaurants. ROC is one of the newest and certainly worth a trip. It is open continually for lunch and dinner.  If you stop by around 4 you miss the crowd and can be assured you will get a table. Greg, our server, was fantastic – knowledgeable plus fully committed to making our dining experience fun and pleasurable. There is no liquor license so be prepared for soft drinks and tea. We did make one mistake and ordered everything at once.  It is best to order one dish at a time so you aren’t  rushed and overwhelmed by a table loaded with dish after dish.

ROC room 1

The room as you enter

ROC room

The room by the open kitchen – notice the light fixture

ROC Kitchen better

The open kitchen

ROC making dumplings

The chef making dumplings

ROC dumplings

Shanghai Soup Dumplings with Shrimp and Pork (Xiao Long Bao) – Greg had to teach us how to eat this.

ROC dumpling ready to eat

First you carefully remove the dumpling, dip it in the ginger sauce and  put it on your soup spoon. You then gently pierce the top skin of the dumpling and the wonderful soup spills on the spoon mixing with the sauce. Then you just pop it into your mouth. I would say I got a C doing this – it does take practice!

ROC string peas

Sauteed String Beans with Garlic – we asked for a medium amount of garlic – delicious

ROC pancake

Scallion Pancake with Gingered Soy Dipping sauce – another winner and a large portion for two (We did end up taking quite a bit of food home)

ROC chicken dish

ROC Rice Cake with Chicken, Napa Cabbage and Spinach – my least favorite dish

ROC crispy pancake

Crispy Shrimp and Pork Dumplings with Ginger Chili Dipping Sauce – The dish is presented as a crisp pancake. You then carefully cut the pancake and turn it over.

ROC underneath the dumpling

Underneath the pancake are the shrimp and pork dumplings – 8 pieces in all – another winner dish.

We will definitely return to ROC, order one dish at a time and practice how to eat the soup dumplings.