Now through the end of the day on Friday, July 23, My Table Entrée is offering half price certificates for Valentino. $40 will get a certificate for $80 worth of food; $20 will get you one for $40. It’s my opinion that Valentino is the best Italian restaurant in the area. This deal is great way to try it.
Come see why its progenitor in the Los Angeles area was called the best Italian restaurant in the country by the New York Times and the best in the world by Gambero Rosso. I have gotten to know proprietor Piero Selvaggio, and he would not claim that the restaurant is at that level, but it is excellent. Valentino is something different for Houston, modern and inventive, drawing inspiration from all of Italy but rarely replicating a dish. The “philosophy is an extraordinary balance between tradition and creativity,” wrote the Italian Veronelli guide some years ago, and applicable here. You won’t find any of the Italian-American restaurant stalwarts, but what you might at a top ristorante in Italy. The ingredients are first-rate, both local and international, especially the artisanal products from Italy that help define a restaurant as Italian. Resident chef Cunninghame West, who spent many years in Selvaggio’s kitchens, is quite skilled, both in terms of execution and creativeness.
The food I’ve had at Valentino is better than I have eaten during several trips to Italy. I have yet to have a dish that did not work well. Some of the highlights on the menu are: hickory smoked quail; eggplant parmesan gratin, a unique take on this staple; Gnocchi Tricolori; Fagottini d’Aragosta, fresh pasta filled with lobster; buffalo tenderloin medallions, easily the best buffalo dish I’ve ever had; and black truffle-crusted tuna medallions. The desserts are first rate, and the cheese offerings, a more Italian way to finish a meal, are superb.
The two other locations have the top Wine Spectator Grand awards. The wine list here is not nearly there, but it is quite expansive and very well-chosen. Selvaggio also has a James Beard Award for wine service that is evident, and the array of fantastic finds from Italy, especially.
The sleek setting is very attractive. Many of the elements were wisely kept from the Bistro Moderne days. The often lively VinBar fronting the dining room can be a fun choice for a pre- or post-dinner drink.
Restrictions apply for the certificate: it expires on November 30, 2010; good for food only; does not apply to tax or gratuity; not for alcohol; one certificate per couple per visit; no cash back and no change given. To purchase a certificate visit www.mytableentree.com.
2525 West Loop South (in the Hotel Derek), 77027, (713) 850-9200