Restaurant: Valentino Santa Monica [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]
Location: 3115 Pico Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90405. (310) 829-4313
Date: December 14, 2018
Rating: My last meal here!
It is with great sadness that we mark the passing of the venerable and classic Valentino in Santa Monica. It’s been around for nearly 40 years and was at one time (in the 90s) the best Italian Restaurant in LA, if not the country, being one of the first American Italian places to offer extremely Italian, highly refined, ingredient focused food. Now it’s been a bit long in the tooth for some time now, and the cheffing not what it once was, but I’ve been there for so many wine dinners it’s like a second home.
So for our final Sauvages lunch of the year — oddly Bordeaux themed rather than Italian — we celebrate the legacy of the grand dame of LA Italian Fine dining.
Starting with some Champagnes.
There were so many wines this afternoon that I’m feeling too lazy to write them all up.
Crocchette of polenta stuffed with egg and cheese?
Crostini with burrata.
Shrimp wrapped in bacon.
Arancini cheese balls.
Or special menu today.
Whole Calamari Stuffed with Lobster and Braised in Light Tomato Broth and Oregano. I didn’t love this dish. A touch fishy.
I Tortini Gemelli di Melanzana e Fungi. Twin flans of eggplant and wild mushroom. These I liked because I’m partial to the soft baked texture of flans.
Spaghetti al Cipollotto with pancetta, mild onions, cherry tomatoes, parmesan & buffalo blue. Nice pasta. I always love some good pancetta with my pasta.
Duet of Stuffed Rabbit and Quail. Very meaty.
I forgot to take the picture of their dessert which was Budino alla Vaniglia e Croccante and Italian Praline-Caramel Pudding. My gelato (below) was plated next to it and was better, of course :-).
The holiday flavors continue — Traditional Cassata di Siciliana Gelato — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — Sicilian Christmas cake as a gelato, with a ricotta almond base mixed with candied fruit and dark Valrhona chocolate chunks — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #Cassata #Valrhona #CandiedFruit #fruit #chocolate #ricotta #almond #RicottaCheese #cheese CassataSiciliana
The holiday flavors continue — Eggnog Gelato — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — pure traditional eggnog made as a gelato with a real rum/sugar/egg zabaglione core — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #IceCream #eggnog #rum #nutmeg #cinnamon #egg #zabaglione
The afternoon served as a sort of parting function for owner, host and restaurant luminary Piero Selvaggio — and somewhat by coincidence Wolfgang Puck was there and joined in.
Everyone cheers Stuart on as he toasts his friend Piero.
The whole lineup of Bordeaux.
There was a ladies table at this event. Kinda a bit funny with its own wines, and they ordered off the menu rather than having or set lunch.
Piero and Wolfgang taste and drink.
Service was great as always, as Valentino really takes care of us — we are, after all friends of the owner, some for many many years. Sommlier/wine director Paul was in the house and handled all the wines to perfection.
The food itself was fairly typical of recent Valentino set menus with some nice dishes and a few more ho-hum ones. Piero is such a fine host that I really wish he had kept both the food and decor a bit more up to date. Spago has actually done a much better job of this and is still quite busy (and expensive).
To see more Sauvages lunches, click here.
Below is the long parade of Bordeaux. There were some seriously excellent wines in the bunch including the 1990 Margaux and 1982 Haut Brion!