I had guests coming in town, and I wanted to take them somewhere for a nice, subdued, and certainly delicious dinner. Since they were staying just outside of downtown (and we had an usually impressive snowstorm), I figured it would be best to stay in the general area of Broadway and West End. I admit, I often feel that that area can be a booby-trap. There are finds, and then there are typical, inauthentic, chain-style potholes. Okay, that was harsh, but really, I wanted to pick somewhere good. I picked Valentino's on West End.
Valentino's has been a local Italian institution for nearly twenty years. It is housed in an old residence that has dining on two floors with a cozy bar at the top of the stairs from the bottom to the top level. I'm sure the terms warm and inviting are trite, but that's exactly what it is while also maintaining that classic, Italian, white-table-cloth, vintage-red-wine feeling. Before we even touch on the food, let me say that our waiter was particularly exceptional. It seems very rare these days to have a waiter who is knowledgeable and helpful while also allowing you all of the time and personal space you want to enjoy your meal and your company.
When it comes to the menu, the wine selection is not to be taken lightly. Not only is it extensive, but it also ranges from $8 glasses to $400 bottles. Entrées are generally $20-30, so Valentino's may be something to reserve for a special evening. The dinner menu is one of those menus that make you angry that your appetite will eventually have a limit. But if I could recommend just one thing, it would be the gnocchi. They are these perfect little pillows of soft, heavenly goodness; they will absolutely change what you believe gnocchi to be. Wait, I forgot. The tiramisu - oh, the tiramisu. If you like tiramisu, don't miss Valentino's tiramisu. Just don't. Overall, Valentino's was a great choice. The meal, the waiter, the physical space of the restaurant and the company all made a wonderful evening. Bottomline: I wasn't disappointed. At all.
Photo Credit: VirtualErn