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Jonathan Gold’s Palate Has Evolved Past Italian Dinner Legend Valentino

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The restaurant is largely unchanged 45 years later

Valentino
Valentino, Santa Monica
Yelp

This week, instead of reviewing one of the city’s newest restaurants, Jonathan Gold revisits Santa Monica icon Valentino. The Times critic gives due credit to Piero Selvaggio’s 45-year-old establishment, explaining that “if you were a young diner plunging into the restaurant scene of the 1980s, Valentino was the restaurant you measured yourself against.” At the time, the restaurant was considered “the best Italian restaurant in the United States;” however, “the decades progress. Tastes change.”

That means that while the dishes are “playful, well-cooked and delicious,” there are some execution flaws, largely related to seasonality:

Still, you have had better tuna tartare, maybe even this week, and the cherry tomato garnishing the crespelle is as hard and tasteless as the ones you find in the supermarket. The seafood sauces are over-reduced and smack a bit of scorched shell, a taste straight out of 1986. November is not the best month to serve a preparation whose flavor depends on the fresh aroma of blueberries and asparagus. And the point of having the night’s dinner choreographed by a proprietor or captain is that every bite you take should be ideal and of the season. The highs here are pretty high, but the others are less so. [LAT]

The Goldster continues to dig at the restaurant, questioning why he was served a “classic early-spring dish of favas, tiny peas and baby artichokes, on a chilly late-fall evening; or why the restaurant’s version of crudo, finger-thick and almost flavorless under its refrigerator chill, is being served at all.”

Ultimately, Valentino seems past its time, with the critic concluding, “Has Valentino changed or have we? The answer, I fear, may be us.”

VALENTINO

324 North Rodeo Drive, , CA 90210 (310) 247-0103 Visit Website

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