Piero Selvaggio’s Valentino restaurant inside the Venetian Resort and Casino presents the gusto of contemporary Italian cuisine within the bright lights that encapsulate the Las Vegas Strip. Award-winning Executive Chef Luciano Pellegrini designs a palatable seasonal menu that includes enticing pasta dishes and decadent main courses. Satiate your appetite with exhilarating entrees like I Garganelli neri: black homemade pasta with lobster carbonara (bacon, cream, yolks and sea urchin). Or please the carnivore inside you with L’agnello: fork tender lamb ossobuco braised in red wine and serve with porcini infused gnocchi. Praised by Wine Spectator, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine, Valentino’s wine collection offers more than 2,000 varieties, primarily from Italy, California and France, and features both affordable treasures and rare vintage wines that appeal to novice and veteran wine lovers alike. Be mesmerized by Valentino’s opulent setting; patrons can dine lavishly in the restaurant's contemporary dining room, filled with rustic tones and a subtle charming palette. Valentino will take you for a journey that is filled with refined elegance and contemporary Italian cuisine.Read More ...
It is fitting that Piero Selvaggio named his restaurants Valentino—the Italian word for Valentine—because it is clear that love for food, service and hospitality is the mission of each of his three award-winning establishments. His flagship was founded in 1972 in Santa Monica with a chef by the name of Gianni Paoletti. The two parted ways a few years later but Selvaggio was fearless and continued as a restaurateur, it has paid off. Today, Valentino has three locations with Las Vegas representing the second locale established 13 years ago followed by Dallas, Texas.
Despite the three distinct locations, each Valentino adheres to a strict standard of hospitality through their attentive and knowledgeable staff as well as consistently well-prepared Italian food using the finest ingredients. This is no surprise given Selvaggio’s business acumen prompted his partnership with celebrated chef Luciano Pellegrini. Together, Selvaggio and Pellegrini are maestros orchestrating the gastronomic equivalent of Luciano Pavarotti solos.
Valentino Las Vegas is located off the casino floor at The Venetian and is the perfect place for dinner before the percussive fun of the hotel’s Blue Man Group show or the ideal respite after power shopping at The Shoppes at Palazzo. The classic Roman design of the hotel easily segues into the stylish Valentino with its rich colors, wood accents, luminous lighting and bold design accents of mirror, glass and walls of sparkle.
Valentino speaks to Pellegrini and Selvaggio’s Italian heritage through the diverse menu selections and in the comfortably elegant surroundings with touches of travertine tile and Murano glass. There are two Valentino dining experiences available: The Grill at Valentino, the casual dining option located in front of the establishment, and the main dining room. It may be informal but the appointments are as welcoming as the main dining area except The Grill has a TV and adjacent lounge to the bar. The menu uses the same fresh ingredients as the fine dining neighbor except the provisions are smaller and served in paninis, antipasta salads or on the rustic pizzas. A coffered ceiling, intimate pub tables and modern seating with chrome accents provide niche areas to meet friends pre- or post-show, grab a plate of calamari and a chilled Peroni. Beers are but a fraction of cheers found at the bar because the global selections of wine can also be decanted at the bar. The talented bartender could also construct one of its specialty concoctions if beer or wine isn’t your preference. One of the signature cocktails—Blueman Martini—is a tantalizing mix of blueberry vodka, Hypnotic, blue curacao, crème de peche and a hint of sweet and sour but you can’t go wrong with any of the citrus based signature drinks. Of course, Limoncello,—the tangy Italian aperitif—is a wonderful conclusion to a meal or on its own.
Our host Jorge Luna enthusiastically welcomes us. As he checks on our table, my guest and I spend a few minutes at the bar admiring the rich mahogany wood that reflects the glow from the overhead Venetian glass pendants. Polished glass and silver punctuate the spirits wall, allowing guests to clearly see every beverage offering. We are escorted to our table as the sound of laughter from the bar transitions into the soothing tunes of Vegas’ bygone Rat Pack era.
As Luna guides us, he pauses to proudly show off the cozy wood paneled vestibule. The walls showcase the many awards earned by Valentino and Chef Pellegrini. These accolades are the pedigrees indicative of culinary and wine proficiency and superiority. DiRoNA. Wine Spectator. Bon Appetit. Robb Report. Four Diamond. And the award many U.S. chefs covet like an Olympic gold medal because it’s the highest honor food and beverage professionals can have bestowed, the coveted James Beard Foundation Award. There is also an abundance of local epicurean, wine and community services awards that are all very impressive.
Luna gives us a tour of the entire restaurant before it is filled by eager diners. There are several dining rooms ranging from a private four-top chef’s table to larger rooms capable of seating over 50 guests. A few of the intimate dining areas are held in reserve for celebs as well as the Sands Chairman and magnate Sheldon Adelson who pops in regularly for the day’s delicacies. What is most remarkable about these rooms, or the whole restaurant for that matter, is the magnificent wine collection featured in the overall architectural design. Breathtaking.
A sea of 34,000 bottles of the world’s most sought-after and soon to be discovered vintages are carefully cradled in glass enclosed wine cabinets. The list is so extensive that Wine Spectator has lauded Valentino with the Grand Award annually since 2002.
There are approximately 2,000 global selections with emphasis on wines from Italy, California and France. There is a wine for every budget ranging from the modest $32 Famiglia De Rose Chianti to rare vintages including a 2009 Domaine De La Romanée-Conti red that commands $28,000 per bottle. Thankfully, there are some wonderful alternatives that don’t require mortgaging your house and resident Wine Director, Gretchen Allen is very pleased to assist.
We are seated in a cozy, velvet high back corner seat. Our waiter, Neil, promptly greets us as he brings us Parmesan wafers gingerly arranged in a starfish pattern. They melt on our tongues like snowflakes imparting a burst of buttery saltiness.
As Neil pours our Panna still water, out comes Chef Pellegrini equipped with an extending hand and a warm smile. His voice possesses enough of his Italian accent for us to know where he was born. He asks us if we would mind him choosing our selections and we gratefully accept his guidance. Before he departs he asks if either of us has a food allergy to which my guest notes eggplant. We are duly impressed with the chef for asking especially since eggplant is a staple ingredient and a trip to the hospital is not what we wanted this evening.
Chef Pellegrini chooses the sampling menu with wine pairing for us. Though the menu changes on a daily basis, the inspiration reflects all regions of Italy including the autonomous location of Sicily. Seasonal ingredients are highlighted in classic preparations in the menu items but tonight’s sampling menu will feature approximately 70 percent of what is available on the standard menu. That’s good news because we’re told that this particular menu is retiring soon. Not surprisingly it is the classic pastas like I Garganelli Neri, a black pasta topped with a lobster carbonara made of bacon, cream and sea urchin, as well as the fork tender L’agnello Ossobuco braised in red wine and served with porcini infused gnocchi that have folks clamoring time and time again.
Our first course arrives shortly thereafter and is served on a round plate but in linear fashion. Our waiter skillfully recites the preparation, ingredients and gives us a lovely brief on the Piemonte wine with which these appetizers are paired.
Unlike my dining companion, I am able to sample Chef Pellegrini’s eggplant parmigiana. What is interesting about its construction is the accordion-like slices of eggplant placed plank-to-plank after being dredged in the homemade breading and then lightly fried. Served over a bed of lightly dressed radicchio with dried tomatoes and topped with a dense but balanced marinara sauce, each bite is reminiscent of eating in my best friend’s grandma’s kitchen. We can’t wait to taste the Capesante, sea scallop wrapped in Pancetta with a white wine caper sauce, and our eagerness is met with pure joy. The seared and plump scallop is cooked perfectly, making its bite hearty but not overdone or chewy. Set aloft is a polenta wedge topped with a butter caper sauce and crisp basil micro greens, the contrast of the briny shellfish with the dense polenta marries texture and flavor beautifully.
As we sip our Arneis wine, we enjoy the Culatello or prosciutto. The saltiness of the cured pork complemented by the fresh mozzarella, which was slightly drizzled of virgin olive oil, gives an earthy platform that showcases the complexity of the curing process.
The pacing between dishes allows us to observe the restaurant for a moment. The maître d' Vincenzo Demonte begins to seat guests who seem as eager to dine as the wait staff is to serve them.
A steel grey table linen dress each of the angular tables in the main dining room and are topped with a simple votive and a silver water sleeve. The square chargers are curvilinear from the side and resemble stone. Unlike the other dining areas, the main dining room whispers to art deco with bold, primary colored linear rooms but our favorite area is the decanting station. Valentino utilizes the hallway for maximum efficiency and abutted glass tables to the wood paneled walls. They then outfitted them with modern Italian decanting glassware that glisten under the scone lighting on each side of an oversized mirror: simple, elegant and practical.
Our second course consists of rapini gnocchi, spaghetti ragout with rabbit and crescenza ravioli with a dash of crunchy walnuts and complemented by poached pear slices. These are all enhanced by the smooth and feminine wine Veneto Corvina. The ravioli pillows are truly al dente and tinted deep red thanks to beet juice. They burst with a buttery cheese filling. My companion adores the rich gnocchi that gets its green color from the integration of slightly bitter rapini. It is beautifully contrasted by the smooth and classic tomato vodka cream sauce.
Pellegrini makes all his pasta in-house, and the result is evident in the Spaghetti with Rabbit. This is my favorite so far with nice chunks of lean, shredded rabbit steeped in a rich peppery meat sauce on firm noodles. Sprigs of fried parsley top the appetizing dish and are delightful on its own. We could eat more but Neil tells us we may want to save room for the upcoming items. We reluctantly agree as I grab just one more bite of the crusty bread from the complimentary bread basket.
Our fish course consists of a medley including poached swordfish roll atop a red pepper reduction, a branzino sea bass that is so light and buttery that the skin remains to bolster the flavor and adds a healthy crunch. It’s placed on a bed of pearly rapini flavored couscous and garnished with olive oil sautéed greens. I can’t help but devour every morsel of the Ricciola or amberjack, a firm white meat fish angled in the Mediterranean. It is served with braised cabbage in a butter, wine, and caper sauce and lightly crusted with fine breadcrumbs.
While our fish medley was enhanced with the Rose Franciacorta, our main entrées—of veal scaloppini, Chicken Mattone and short ribs—is complemented by the Piemonte Nebbiolo “Marghe.” This bold and tannic choice with hints of rose and tar couples well to the meats, especially the glazed and braised short rib with mashed russet. I cut my milky veal scaloppini with a fork and take a bite with the accompanying golden yellow polenta drizzled with Bottarga Chardonnay cream sauce. Next is the moist and juicy Pollo al Mattone. I like a crisped skin on chicken and this has it along with demi-glace and is served with a glistening brick of spinach risotto.
When Neil came to clear and cheerfully crumb the table, we were not ready to admit defeat because we’ve heard about the desserts at Valentino. With our final wine, the raisin rich Toscana Vin Santo, pairing in hand, we stand our ground and wait for the barrage of desserts to come our way.
Ever have those experiences where people rave about a place, and then you go there and think “eh?” Well, dessert will not disappoint you at Valentino. Neil brought us an assemblage of four gorgeous treats. They sat before us and like the other presentations, were placed in linear fashion and we were advised to eat them in order per the chef.
The first treat up is tiramisu. The combination of mascarpone, cocoa and ladyfingers in the hands of Pellegrini equals a heavenly rich yet fluffy representation of this classic dessert. Two red sugar wands reach out from the cocoa sprinkled top and we use them to swizzle our espresso. The sweets get better if that’s even possible. The chocolate ganache cake made with hazelnut is adorned with succulent fresh raspberry and blueberries, and a raspberry sorbet. The delightful dessert pieces dance in unison on a delicate creme anglaise dressed platter that completes the composition. The piece de resistance: the beignet style doughnut. Even Chef Pellegrini admits he indulges in this item, and after one bite we understand why. Though it’s topped with confectioner’s sugar like a traditional doughnut, we realize it is filled with a silken chocolate cream anglaise. This is the Italian food equivalent of being able to smooch George Clooney! My companion is equally smitten.
As we bask in the afterglow sipping our perfectly brewed espresso, Chef Pellegrini joins us. He is a man of contrasts. He has earned a rarified place in the culinary community and commands respect, but he never declines a patron’s request to meet him. He is a self-assured and confident man yet makes self-deprecating comments followed by a chuckle. And he is simply dashing with a silvery wave of hair and a 12 o’clock shadow likely due to the long days demanded of a chef.
Then it occurs to me. Chef Pellegrini looks like Adonis, the Greek god of desire and love. Could it be that Selvaggio’s adumbrated success is because he manifested love in the form of a chef at Valentino? Though we may never have that answer, what is known is that love by any other name would nary taste as sweet as Valentino.
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Such a great place to eat! The atmosphere was great, the service was awesome, and the food was amazing! I highly suggest this place if you are in Vegas and want a nice place to eat.
This restaurant excelled in both service and food quality. The food selection was diverse as was the wine list. Expect great things but be prepared to pay for it.
I had the best Chilean Sea Bass I have ever tasted.
Really good Italian.
I think the Restaurant was a little over hyped. Food was average at best,overpriced for Average. I wouldn't recommend it to a friend and have no plans of returning. Lots of other better choices. My steak was overcooked and the lobster (too little to tell you what it tasted like unless you like shell).
I was very disappointed by our experience. For the money the value was not there. Very sad because I used to love this restaurant.