White Truffles @Valentino
Went to Valentino’s last night and had an AMAZING meal!! It was just me and my husband. I picked 4 dishes + dessert and they split each one for us, so it was like having a custom tasting meal. I love how they do that for you, Scarpetta will also serve that way too.
Italian Chopped Salad.
Hubby loved it, it was a little too bitter for me, I think because of too much radicchio :o)
Grilled Octopus w/Squid Ink Israeli Couscous.
Loved this!! The octopus was super tender because they poach it first then grill it. The skid ink couscous was great too, not fishy, just enough mineraliness to it ;o)
Risotto w/White Truffles
I decided that if I had a choice, this would be my last meal that I would pick :o) I would just need to die in late fall...lol Valentino's makes the BEST risotto and white truffles are just sublime! They use Vialone Nano rice for their risotto. I already ate some when I took this picture. It was covered in truffles when it came to the table. It was $70 for app portion & $100 for entrée…we split entrée portion. They said that they would have the truffles until about New Years.
Sliced NY Steak w/arugula & tomato...
Ordered med rare, but maybe a touch too rare.
Most places dumb it down by making it too sweet and not enough alcohol in it ;o)
There were some interesting people dining…
One table had a woman gnawing on a bone, I do that sometimes too, but not at a place like Valention’s…lol Then later in the evening, she stood up and modeled a sweater that she was going to give to her mother, she actually made a presentation with it!
Another table had a young guy wearing a plain old white t-shirt as his attire. Can’t you dress up just a tad for a place like this??
The table right next to us had one couple at it, SHE talked on her cell phone for the first 15 mins…she even ate her salad as she gabbed.
P.S. Sorry the pics aren’t that great, I wasn’t very good with the iPhone this time...
225 N Canon Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Thanks for the great post. No one is as generous with white truffles as Piero Selvaggio. My husband and I are not fans of tasting menus; preferring to design our own. Your meal sounds wonderful. I doubt that we would be up for that much food but I do know that Piero would honor our requests and our appetites. For more years than I can say, we have been served a lovely pasta (chef's choice) adorned only with melted butter and a generously shaved white truffle. Valentino buys the best truffles at auction from Alba. During white truffle season I seek out the best and use it to make the best potatoes au gratin in the history of the world. If I have any left over, I'll cook some scrambled eggs with white truffles. My attitude is buy the best you can afford. Don't get screwed over by restaurant truffle tasting menus. Hell, they could be sneaking truffle oil (chemicals)into the mix. Go with Valentino if you want the best of the best. If you want to buy some white truffles for home consumption, talk to David at Surfas or Norbert at Cheese Shop. I used to buy directly from Urbani but I understand that is no longer an option.
I absolutely agree that Valentino is the best place to have white truffles. Here is a review of our last two meals at Valentino – we like to sit at Vin Bar, but the menu is definitely Valentino’s menu not the bar menu. All dishes are splits – one for two and orchestrated by Chef Nico and Piero.
Fritto Misto of calamari, shrimp, scallops and artichokes and zucchini – not one hint of grease – just top-rate fritto misto
The fritto was served with 3 sauces – an aioli of mayonnaise and garlic, taleggio cheese and an arrabiata sauce
Pappa al Pomodoro soup topped with burrata cheese – traditional, executed perfectly – lousy photo. Pappa al pomodoro is “a bread and tomato “minestra“, that is, a thick soup, and one of the oldest and most typical dishes of the Siena area. It is definitely one of the most representative dishes of the Tuscan cucina povera, the poor people’s culinary tradition.”
Tuna Carpaccio, Blood orange, blood orange sauce dressing paired with
Blood Orange Salad, Shaved Fennel, Arugula, Blood Orange sauce, topped with Botarga – Piero mentioned that it is typical of Sicilian cuisine to pair tuna with citrus.
This is an old-fashioned Sicilian dish that Piero named Tortino Ragusano. Piero grew up in the province of Ragusa, the smallest and the youngest of the Sicilian provinces that covers an area of roughly 1600 square kilometres in the south-western side of the Island. This dish consisted of zucchini slices, sliced mushrooms, Caciocavallo cheese, Ragusano cheese, Swiss Chard Sauce and Olive Oil – absolutely delicious.
Mezze Maniche pasta with parmesan, pecorino and black and red pepper. Mezzemaniche or mezze maniche is a cut similar to shortened rigatoni – a stout cylinder with raised edges to help hold sauce. The name of this cut of pasta comes from the Italian word maniche meaning sleeves. This was a dish with just 4 ingredients that added up to a spectacular dish.
John’s favorite pasta and what Piero calls peasant spaghetti. This is a family guarded recipe that has been an old Valentino favorite for years – ingredients include fresh tomato, proscuitto, pecorino cheese, garlic, olive oil, parsley.
For me – Egg in Truffle – Pasta ravioli was on the bottom – when you cut through the dish there was spinach, ricotta, parmesan, a coddled egg with a lovely runny yolk and shaved white truffles on top – John can be a peasant while I will go for the luxurious!
Chicken Valentino – This is another classic Valentino dish - circa 1973. Piero said he has served this about 5 times in the last 10 years. My thought – serve it more often and classic doesn’t mean “out of date.” Piero described this as the quintessential American-Italian dish. It consisted of grilled chicken, Italian sausage, olives and bell peppers – mama never cooked so good!
Cheese Plate – I didn’t write down the names.
As far as I am concerned this is THE Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. As a side note, we happened to have a guest in town who wanted to go to Valentino the night before this meal. We went two nights in a row and didn’t have one duplication – two nights – two completely different experiences – two wonderful meals. By the way you don’t have to be a regular to get the best of Valentino – Piero does it every night for every guest.
I sound like a broken record, but this is just the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Nico devised our menu and Piero and Paul Sherman selected the wines. Piero mentioned that many of the dishes that Chef Nico created were “new” to him – Nico is an incredibly talented chef with a contemporary flair. His flavor combinations are just extraordinary, he is a fantastic saucier and his execution is flawless.
Marinated swordfish carpaccio, blood orange dressing, pistachio, baby tomatoes, arugula – a perfect light beginning.
Abalone, sea urchin, sea urchin dressing, pea shoots, mashed potato under the shell – Chef Nico knows my love of sea urchin and this was a fantastic combination of flavors – uni and abalone – you can’t get better than that.
This was introduced as Chef Nico’s interpretation of Matzoh Ball soup! The “ball” was actually composed of speck, pork, crab, celery, carrot and ricotta cheese. It floated in a crab bisque with pieces of crab. There are no words to describe how good this was. The bisque was so rich and deeply flavored that you knew this was not made in minutes, but carefully constructed and lovingly tended to for hours.
Cannelloni (made with white semolina flour and squid ink infused pasta) stuffed with lobster, pappa al pomodoro sauce, ricotta cheese sprinkled on top and a roasted cherry tomato on the side – not a hint of toughness from the lobster and again the saucing was flawless.
Orecchiette pasta (literally little ear’s pasta), Swiss chard, pecorino, sweet mozzarrella cheese, olive oil – Valentino has always excelled at pasta and this was no exception.
Risotto saltato covering venison ragu on a sauce of ricotta cream, olive oil and parsley. Risotto saltato refers to the fact that you fry the risotto rice in a frying pan so that it becomes a golden and crispy cake. We were on a roll – each dish shone, not one overshadowed the other.
Fonduta on top of braised beef tartare, pea sauce, shaved white truffles on top – I am running out of descriptive adjectives. Enough to say that this was perfect.
Grilled pork, fines herbes, a sauce of jus, butternut squash, carrots, green beans, zucchini, baby corn, fennel – the vegetables were market fresh and the pork succulent. Underneath the pork was a mosto (must) of raisins, figs and apricots
Cheese for dessert
This was a perfectly constructed tasting menu and far superior to any Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. I can’t wait to go to Vin Bar again and see what else Chef Nico has up his sleeves. His creativity and execution are limitless.
316 Pier Ave, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Hi Lizziee, thanks SO MUCH for your comments and pictures! I ate at Valentino tonight with 4 friends. Based on your post, I requested the white truffle ravioli, and we all had it as our very decadent starter. Everyone at the table loved it. Truly fabulous!
I agree, the octopus with squid ink couscous is fabulous as well. They made a braised short rib dish with white truffle risotto for me. The risotto was lovely, I hate to say it, but my short ribs (based on a recipe from Daniel Bouloud) are far better. Theirs were dry.
Very glad we made it there before the white truffles were gone. Thanks again for the posts and recommendations! If I hadn't known about the white truffle ravioli from you, we never would have enjoyed it. And we really did :)
Maudie, your white truffle potato gratin sounds decadent!! I'm always afraid to buy truffles for home use, I'd be afraid that they are sub-par, but your recs for Surfas & Cheese Shop sounds great! Someone else was talking about Urbani, not sure if it is still available.
It also is nice to splurge once or twice a year at Valentino's to get the best :o) I hate everything with truffle oil, it is way too overused lately!
Thanks. I have my truffle sniffing-buying radar out.. I have been promised that I will get a superb white truffle. When I do, I will bury it in a jar of Carnaroli risotto (uncooked). I will likely make the aforementioned potatoes with white truffles, which is crazy/decadent/delicious. I will use some for the scrambled eggs and I will savor that truffle-scented rice to use whenever the mood strikes me. It would have gone well tonight with the Osso Bucco I made. Caveat Emptor: ONLY buy a truffle dish from the most well-established, reputable restaurant. In other words, Valentino, Vincenti, Osteria Mozza are the three most reputable restaurants which come to my mind. I would not trust any of the newer restaurants as I feel that it takes years to develop a rapport with the truffle purveyors in Alba.
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