Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Valentino: Las Vegas

Where to go for dinner on our third night in Vegas? This would be the last dinner reservation we made as we would just wing it the next day, prior to our evening flight. I wanted something different from what we had already eaten and eventually thought Italian might be a nice choice. So, after checking out some of the available choices, I selected Valentino, located in the Venetian Resort. Piero Selvaggio's Valentino is a sister restaurant to the famed Valentino in Santa Monica, California.

Valentino has a casual elegance, and would certainly be an impressive location for a date or special occasion. Their wine list is quite extensive, carrying many Italian wines as well as plenty of wines from other regions. One of my friends actually brought a bottle of Mouton-Rothschild with us to begin the evening (only being charged a $35 corkage fee). Obviously, that was a stellar wine that was muchly appreciated.

The food menu is diverse and does not consist of the typical Italian dishes. The menu items are more Italian influenced. Prices are on the higher end but you do receive ample quantity as well as very high quality.

We began with a couple of appetizers, a Scallop Saltimbocca (with Prosciutto & sage) over Potato “Rosti” ($22) and Domestic Culatello with Ciabatta Bread Chips and Home Made Burrata ($22). The Scallops were delicious, cooked just right and the blend of flavors was very appealing. Culatello is a special type of Prosciutto, the so-called "heart" of it, and was very thin sliced. It was silky smooth with a salty and nutty flavor. Quite good! Burrata is an Italian cheese, a combination of mozzarella and cream. It is a smooth, spreadable cheese that looks like goat cheese but has a more buttery flavor. Both appetizers were very tasty.

For my entree, I went for the 10 oz Buffalo Medallions with Grape Must Pickled Cipolline Onions ($48). This came with a few other veggies as well. There was an ample size of buffalo and it was absolutely delicious. Very tender, juicy and flavorful. I even enjoyed the onions though I am usually not that keen on them. I tried a piece of the Kurobuta Pork Medallion, Marinated in Green Apple brine, and it was equally good, also tender and juicy. The Pan Seared Wild Tasmanian Salmon with Fresh Grape Sauce was another very good dish.

As a side, I ordered the Potato Tart with “Guanciale” and Asiago cheese ($16). This was like a round piece of cornbread, though made from potato and covered with melted Asiago. Inside the bread were pieces of Guanciale, a type of unsmoked bacon made from pork cheeks. This was a superb side dish! Quite flavorful with a nice blend of the cheese, pork and potato.

With dinner, we also ordered a bottle of wine, a 1996 Chateau Musar Bordeaux-style blend from Lebanon. This may be the best winery in Lebanon and they make excellent Bordeaux-stryle wines. Everyone very much enjoyed this wine and it paired well with our dinners.

We skipped dessert as we did not have enough time before we had to be elsewhere. Overall, this was another excellent dining experience. Service was very good. The food was plentiful, delicious and of high quality. I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Vegas.

Valentino (Venetian) in Las Vegas

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