BBE Editor's Pick
3115 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica
Piero Selvaggio opened Valentino back in 1972, creating a restaurant that was grand and stylish but never aloof. In the process, he introduced something almost as legendary as the restaurant itself—the famous 106-page carta dei vini—as thick as a phone book but far more interesting. Over the years, Valentino became Santa Monica’s fancy dining room and LA’s veritable wine museum, with bottles, glasses and awards framed in mirror-backed windows. Then, three years ago, Selvaggio went all casual, adding the tiny Vin Bar, just next door, the perfect spot to grab a crudo sampler or a signature pappardelle al cioccolato. In vino veritas, and the truth is, a great glass of wine tastes pretty good in either place.
Vitello tonnato (cold roasted veal loin in tuna sauce)
Paccheri (short tube pasta with lamb ragù)
Costoletta di maiale saltimbocca
Ossobuco (braised veal shank with semolina gnocchi)
Frico (Parmesan chips)
Grilled flat bread pizza with buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto
Porchetta e patate arrosto (roast pork belly and roasted potatoes)
I cannoli Siciliani (Piero Selvaggio’s favorite dessert classic)
The two alcove tables at the end of the main room are semiprivate and always in demand, as are the two booths across from them. At Vin Bar, the two-top along the south wall gives you views of the bar, the crowd and, if you’re so inclined, the flat-screen TV.
chew on this
Owner Piero Selvaggio arrived in Brooklyn from Sicily at 18 and soon moved to LA to live with his uncle, a manager at Chasen’s, who gave him a job as a busboy. Eight years later (in 1972,
after becoming a manager at Chasen’s himself and earning a bachelor’s degree in Romance languages), he opened Valentino.
Valentino and Vin Bar:
lunch: Fri. 11:30 PM–2:30 PM
dinner: *Mon.–Thurs. 5 PM–10 PM (Fri.–Sat. to 10:30 PM)
*open Mon. only during BBE promotion
$28 (free range chicken) to $44 (ossobuco)
$14 (pecorino and tripe ravioli) to $18 (catch of the day)
$35 for three-course prix fixe