Posts Tagged ‘Giovanni Rocchio’

South Florida — By klynch on March 31, 2009 at 10:29 am
Filed under: Fort-Lauderdale, Giovanni Rocchio, italian, Restaurants & Bars, valentino's

Review: Valentino’s in Fort Lauderdale

It’s always great to discover a new restaurant, one that isn’t necessarily new, but one that’s more of a hidden gem. It may not feature the fanciest sign or exterior, but it is as charming as can be when you walk inside. Valentino’s wouldn’t call your name if you drove past it as it is located in a strip mall. In fact, it’s very easy to miss even if you know exactly where it is, but it is definitely worth the drive down (or up – whatever the case may be).

Located on Federal Highway, just off of Davie Boulevard, this family run restaurant is charming in every way. Giovanni Rocchio runs the show here and creatively presents everything that comes out of his kitchen. You won’t find the typical Italian dishes here such as pasta covered with red sauce, fettucine alfredo and chicken parmesan, but you are more apt to find a new twist on tradition such as their calamari. Instead of fried calamari, you will receive grilled calamari served with artichokes, pepperocini, radicchio and chili oil – definitely making every bite a memorable play on flavors.

They do have a standard menu, but their list of nightly specials is a menu in itself. With everything sounding absolutely spectacular and having to choose just one entree would have been impossible, we decided to do a tasting menu. I’m glad we did.

The highlight of my meal was a fresh corn and arugula salad with candied pecans and goat cheese. This was the perfect combination of fresh produce and textures that I am still savoring the food experience there. The quality of ingredients they used was top notch and that made the difference here. As we were eating, they did receive a delivery from Swank Farms and it brought me back to my delicious outing there a few months ago when I was able to enjoy arugula, peas, lettuce straight from the farm. The freshness was unbeatable.

In addition to the salad, we were served tempura battered squash blossoms with rock shrimp and tomatoes, a grilled calamari salad, venison so tender that it melted in your mouth flavored with fennel, a seafood combination and a tasting of three chocolate desserts. Everything is made in house and the menu changes often that every experience here is a new one.

The service is stellar, the wine list extensive (you won’t find these wines at your daily Publix), and they will treat you like family. Currently there are only 17 tables in the restaurant and they remain full throughout the evening. This is definitely an add-on to your must experience places in Fort Lauderdale.

Where: Valentino’s Cucina Italiana, 1145 S. Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale.(954) 523-5767.

Hours: Open Tuesday through Thursday, 5:30 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m.

Photos from personal collection.

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